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I get emails every week asking me about how I figured out how much alcohol to get for the number of guests we had. SO, I decided to write a post dedicated to just that!

We were expecting 150 guests so we had to figure out how much of each thing to get. We planned to get 3 types of wine: a red, a white, and a blush, as well as beer. E wanted a variety of beer instead of just one kind, so that’s what ultimately made us decide to go with cans over a keg. Plus if we had gotten a keg we would have to rent more glasses, so really there wasn’t much of a price difference- it might’ve actually been cheaper to buy cans like we did.

As you know, we purchased our wine from Trader Joe’s for about $30 a case, which is ridiculously cheap. A venue we had looked at and almost switched to in the middle of our planning process wanted to charge us $40 for EACH bottle of wine so just imagine how much we saved by being able to do the alcohol ourselves! E’s groomsman T is in the army so he was able to buy the beer at the PX on the army base for a discount AND tax free. So we saved alot in that way. If you have friends in the millitary- they can do this, too!
We used this calculator from Frugal MacDougal to help figure out how much of each to buy:
http://www.frugalmacdoogal.com/event_planning/

We ended up buying 96 bottles of wine (3 cases white, 3 cases red, 2 cases blush= 8 cases) and we got 9 cases of beer- I think 3 different kinds. We didn’t have any liquor. The beer was pretty much gone by the end of the night, give or take a few cans of each, but we had a case and a half of wine left so I would say we over-did it on wine a bit. We also had a pretty young crowd- lots of our friends from high school and college so we had a big group of drinkers I suppose. As I said before in my alcohol budget post, we spent a little over $500 for all our alcohol including the bartender to serve it and our custom wine labels. W00t!

You can really save alot of money by just having wine and beer at your reception. No one is going to care as long as there is something to drink. BUT, if you’re set on having liquor- try doing a signature drink, or a few to choose from to save from having a full open bar, which can be really outrageous.

I hope this has helped any of you who’ve had questions! :)

Reader Louise had this to add to my post- which I thought was such great advice I didn’t want anyone to miss it:

I'm buying my own alcohol as well and used the Frugal MacDoogal link to estimate the purchase. I also checked out several other on-line estimators and they are all within a few bottles of one another.

Some additional info:
Ask about case discounts where ever you purchase. It can be up to 12% (the largest I found so far)!
Ask about weddings. Frugal MacDoogal gives extra discounts for weddings.
Ask about returns. Most places will let you returned
unopened bottles or cases of wine. The whites cannot have been chilled though, so make sure you discuss with your venue that they should not chill all the white at once.

I think the PX option is a good one, if you have it. My folks are military and to be honest, Frugal MacDoogal has better pricing on lots of wines. :)
One great place is Costco. Since TN doesn't allow sales of liquor in our Costco, it's not an option for me, but they have great wines for cheap. Cost Plus too!

Oh, and I think you need to take into account the age of your drinkers. BSB is in her 20's as are most of her friends, I'm guessing. Me and my crew are older, some into their 40's. If it's not some fancy indy brew, they'll drink wine.”

Thanks Louise for the extra tips! Great advice! :)

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About Jessica

Jessica is the creator of The Budget Savvy Bride; she launched the site in May of 2008, shortly after becoming engaged. Jessica has been recognized as a budget wedding expert by various media outlets and continues to share realistic inspiration and actionable tips to help brides save money on their weddings. Google

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  • http://itsahero.com/ Rachel

    I am still so impressed by how little you spent on alcohol. I love love love this idea. I really think this is one of THE most useful tips you could post since it’s so costly to provide beverages for your guests! I am keeping this post in mind for the future events!

  • Jenn

    This is a great post. Before i got married i searched every site high and low but really just had to use my judgement. We provided our own alcohol which saved us alot. We had 80 guests (alot of drinkers) and this is what we had. I wanted to represent my county so we purchased 40 bottles of wine from our local vineyards, 8 cases of beer, and 8 bottles of liquor. When everything was said and done, we had 15 bottles of wine left over, about 4 bottles of liquor left over, and about 4-5 cases of beer left over. We spent about $800 on alcohol. Although we had alot left over, we have been able to enjoy it with our friends after the wedding. But looking back, we probably should have taken our mother in law’s advice and went with a little less and saved ourselves a couple hundred dollars. But like i always say, i rather have too much alcohol, then not enough!

  • http://abrideinboots.blogspot.com Lillian

    This is uber-helpful! So did you buy the wine at Trader Joe’s in Atlanta and carry it back? Wish they would sell wine at the one here!

    • Budget Savvy Bride

      Yep, I had a friend of mine who was already making a trip to Atlanta pick it up while she was there. Who doesn’t love a little day trip to Atlanta to visit IKEA and H&M and all the other wonderful places they don’t have in Nashville?! haha. I know I was really hoping that the wine in the grocery stores bill would pass. :(

  • http://www.thethirty-somethingbride.blogspot.com The Thirty-Something Bride

    I’m buying my own alcohol as well and used the Frugal MacDoogal link to estimate the purchase. I also checked out several other on-line estimators and they are all within a few bottles of one another.

    Some additional info:
    Ask about case discounts where ever you purchase. It can be up to 12% (the largest I found so far)!
    Ask about weddings. Frugal MacDoogal gives extra discounts for weddings.
    Ask about returns. Most places will let you returned
    unopened bottles or cases of wine. The whites cannot have been chilled though, so make sure you discuss with your venue that they should not chill all the white at once.

    I think the PX option is a good one, if you have it. My folks are military and to be honest, Frugal MacDoogal has better pricing on lots of wines. :)
    One great place is Costco. Since TN doesn’t allow sales of liquor in our Costco, it’s not an option for me, but they have great wines for cheap. Cost Plus too!

    Oh, and I think you need to take into account the age of your drinkers. BSB is in her 20’s as are most of her friends, I’m guessing. Me and my crew are older, some into their 40’s. If it’s not some fancy indy brew, they’ll drink wine.

    Sorry to blog in your comments, BSB! I get carried away.

    • Budget Savvy Bride

      haha I love it! thanks for all the extra advice: I might add it to my post up there so no one misses it!

      • http://thethirty-somethingbride.blogspot.com The Thirty-Something Bride

        How sweet! Thanks BSB! I am loving your new web set up here. So user friendly and clean looking. Really love it!

  • http://brideonbudget.blogspot.com Ashley

    Great post. Our alcohol budget is $500 also.

  • http://the2smiths.blogspot.com the future mrs. smith

    this is fabulous. i so wish our venue allowed us to bring our own alcohol – but other parts of it made up for that shortcoming.

    a note on the no liquor – we’re deciding to do the same thing, and less for the cost aspect – more that people act better when they don’t have liquor. a beer/wine drunk is usually easier to handle than a liquor drunk. so it’s double the benefits!

  • http://www.bigspoon-littlespoon.blogspot.com Natosha

    Just to chime in with something different – we have decided on a dry reception. I’ve gone back and forth on the issue because so many people expect alcohol at weddings these days. However, the vast majority of our guests do not drink (the exception is the younger generation). I drink socially, but Big Spoon does not. It makes sense for us as a couple and for our guests to simply cut out the booze and put the money elsewhere.

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