Posted on April 26, 2017

bar sign

One of the most common questions we hear at the Ranch is “How much is the bar going to cost?”

The short answer is “It depends.”

There are dozens of drink calculators and guides online that suggest how much to budget for alcohol at a wedding reception. Those estimates can range from 10-20% of the overall wedding budget.  While you wouldn’t dream of asking guests to purchase their meals, hosting a bar is just as important. But the truth is, YOU know YOUR guests best.

Try putting together a simple spreadsheet.  First highlight the number of guests who are old enough to drink.  Then, in different colors, highlight the number of light, average, and heavy drinkers.

The general rule of thumb is that guests will drink 2-3 drinks in the first hour and 1 drink per hour after that on average.  Apply this information to your spreadsheet along with the cost per drink for your venue to determine a cost estimate for the bar. Ask yourselves how much you are willing to spend and consider the following ways to make your budget go further:

  • Specify to the bartender whether you will want shots or doubles served.  Providing drinks that way can add up quick!
  • Provide liquor during a Cocktail Hour only then switch to beer and wine during the reception.
  • Offer a limited batch of a Signature Drink.  This is also another way to put your personal stamp on your special day.

Apply these ideas and you’ll have everyone raising their glasses to the happy couple!



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