📋 Get the Wedding Quick Start Guide!

Tips for Stocking the Bar

When you shop via links on our site, we may earn a small commission if you make a purchase. Learn more.
Jessica Bishop Headshot

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 military- they can do this, too!FrugalMacLogo
We used this calculator from Frugal MacDougal to help figure out how much of each to buy:

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 these tips for stocking the bar 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! 🙂

Jessica Bishop Headshot

is the founder of TheBudgetSavvyBride.com, and author of the best-selling book,The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner & Organizer. Jessica's expert wedding advice and money-saving tips have been featured by Good Morning America, COSMOPOLITAN, Glamour, and more.