If your wedding venue and caterer allow it, having a BYO alcohol wedding -- purchasing and providing the alcohol for your event -- can be a huge budget saver. It can also be a great way to serve the specific liquor, beer and wine of your choice, instead of choosing from a pre-selected list of options. 

Of course, there are logistics to consider, like who will bring the alcohol and who will ice it down? What about garnishes and glassware? But one of the biggest questions may be, how much alcohol do I need for my wedding? Another disadvantage of this bar option is that if you run out of alcohol, you are out! So you definitely don’t want that to happen.

Having A BYO Alcohol Wedding

Consider your booze. Buying every type of liquor is definitely going to bust the budget. Instead, you are most likely going to be providing a modified bar. For beer, you typically want to offer at least two options, a dark beer and a light beer. A third IPA option is becoming more popular, as are craft beers. For wine, you want to offer at least one red and one white varietal. Sparkling wine is optional based on your preference. The standard liquor bar includes a whiskey/bourbon, gin and vodka with tequila and rum as optional add-ons depending on your preference.

Don’t forget about the mixers and garnishes. Standard mixers include tonic, club soda, soda and juice. For soda, you will want a Coke/Pepsi, Diet Coke/Pepsi and Sprite/Ginger Ale. Standard juices for a wedding bar are cranberry juice and orange juice. Garnishes are also important (typically lemon and lime). Of course, don’t forget anything you might need for a signature cocktails well!

Use a Wedding Alcohol Calculator

The standard alcohol calculator for weddings assumes one drink per guest per hour. If you are offering a full bar, the standard guideline is 50% wine, 20% beer and 30% liquor. If beer and wine only, assume 75% wine and 25% beer. However, you know your guests best so make sure to adjust according to their preferences. 

Remember, one bottle of wine is four drinks and one bottle of liquor is 18 drinks.

Other things to consider:

  • Don’t forget about non-alcoholic drink options, including water, for your under 21 and non-drinking guests.
  • Make sure to check your state laws and venue rules to confirm you are adhering to all guidelines, including a liquor license.
  • Buy cases or kegs when possible to receive an additional discount.
  • Ask your store if you can return any unopened bottles after the wedding.
  • Don’t forget ice and buckets to ice down the alcohol!

When In Doubt, Go With The Pros

Having a DIY wedding bar seems like a good idea in theory, but the costs add up quickly. When determining a BYO alcohol wedding cost, take into account more than the booze. You will need ice and ice buckets, mixers, sodas, drinkware, garnishes, and bartenders to actually make and serve the drinks. 

You can save yourself a lot of time, stress, and math by hiring a bar service for your wedding instead!

Check out our recent Every Day I’m Bustlin’ show where we discussed all things wedding bar, including open bar alternative options (including providing your own!):

 

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Photo Credit: Kate Pope Photography