• Wendy VanWagoner

For Couples Wanting to Save Money on Your Wedding Bar Package

Updated: Oct 21

Is serving only beer and wine your best option? The math might surprise you.

No doubt about it, weddings are expensive! Understandably most couples will look for ways to save money on the many elements required for a wedding. Now, I may be a bit biased since I own a boutique mobile bartending service, but I would suggest not cutting too deeply into the bar budget. Why? Honestly, a complimentary bar is what your guests are most looking forward to, and it’s the one spot of the wedding reception that will be repeatedly visited all night long. Your bar service is essentially the lifeblood of the party.

A typical spend for most wedding bars is somewhere between $3-$5,000. For those wanting to keep it on the less costly side, the common assumption is that beer and wine-only service is the way to do it.

Below I’ve done the math for you. The calculations below are based on “industry standards” of how guests drink at weddings. It is impossible to predict how your guests will actually be drinking, but it’s been my professional experience that these figures are pretty accurate on average.

First, let's figure out the total number of servings

We will use average numbers for guest numbers, hours of bar service and assume that the guests are 'average' drinkers.

150 guests

5 hours of bar service

Average drinkers

Guests will drink:

First hour: 2 drinks x 150= 300 drinks

Hours 2-5: 1 drink per hour x 150 x 4= 600 drinks

Total alcohol servings: 900

Beer & Wine Service

When beer and wine are the only alcoholic options at a wedding, guests will typically consume more beer than wine.

Guests will drink:

60% Beer = 540 servings

40% Wine = 360 servings

beer, wedding bar, beer and wine, bar menu


540 servings = 45 - 12 pks

Bud Lt (24 pk):12 x $19 = $228

IPA (12 pk): 11 x $19 = $209

Lager/Amber (12 pk): 10 x $19= $190

TOTAL: $627


360 servings = 72 bottles

Red wine: $10 x 36= $360

White wine: $10 x 36= $360

TOTAL: $720


Beer, Wine & Mixed Drinks Service

When liquor is on the menu, guests will overwhelmingly prefer mixed drinks over beer and wine. Note: the calculations below were for standard mixed drinks, such a vodka/tonic, rum/cokes, etc., and do not include the price of mixers and ice.

Guests will drink:

30% Beer = 270 servings

20% Wine = 180 servings

50% Liquor = 450 servings


270 servings = 23- 12 packs

Bud Lt (24 pk): 6 x $19= $114

IPA (12 pk): 6 x $19= $114

Lager/Amber (12 pk): 5 x $19= $95

TOTAL: $323


180 servings = 36 bottles

Red wine: $10 x 18 = $180

White wine: $10 x 18 = $180

TOTAL: $360


450 servings = 28 750 ml bottles

Tito’s Vodka (35%): 10 bottles x $20 = $200

Jack Daniels (35%): 10 bottles x $25 = $250

Capt. Morgan (15%0 : 4 bottles x $15 = $60

Tanqueray Gin (15%): 4 bottles x $25 = $100

TOTAL: $610


Beer and Wine Service is Not the Least Expensive. Surprised?

The key thing to notice here is that although beer and wine may cost less per bottle, there are fewer servings per bottle. A 750 ml of liquor will make approximately 16 drinks, whereas a bottle of wine will serve 5-6 drinks. If your guests only have beer and wine as options, they will drink more beer and wine which will add up quickly.

In the end, it makes sense (and cents!) to do the math before settling on what bar service package you’re going with. Cheers!

Want to figure out what your Alcohol Budget will be? I created a FREE Alcohol Budget worksheet so that you can plan with confidence!

Click the button below to get access to the Happy Bar Alcohol Budget Worksheet!