Here’s How Much the Average Couple Spends on Alcohol for Their Wedding

Unless you’re having a dry wedding, you should start preparing your booze budget ASAP.
by Sophie Ross

Whether you prefer an ice-cold beer or aged whiskey, odds are, you’ll be providing your guests with alcohol at your wedding. (For the record, we’re all for dry weddings or “bring your own” scenarios if that’s what you’re into too.)

Regardless of what you’re stocking your bar with, you’ll need to budget accordingly.

According to our 2017 Real Weddings Study, the average amount of money spent on a reception bar/liquor was $2,365. It might seem like a good chunk of change (and it certainly is), but for most couples, it’s  a worthy expense once they see their guests sipping signature cocktails and having a fun time.

Of course, the amount you end up spending will likely depend on your preferences and the type of wedding you’re having. According to our study, formal or black-tie weddings were more likely to have a full-service, premium open bar (with an average cost of $3,970); semiformal weddings are more likely to have a full-service open bar with non top-shelf liquor ($2,341); and casual weddings are most likely to skip the liquor altogether and simply serve beer and wine ($1,325).

One thing that 33 percent of our respondents had in common—regardless of the type of wedding—was a champagne toast. Cheers!

Open bars—whether premium (29 percent) or non top-shelf (24 percent)—continue to be popular. Cash bars have been steadily declining over the years (likely for good reason), with only 8 percent of couples saying they asked their guests to pay for drinks (vs. 10 percent in 2015). Other less popular options were an open bar for beer and wine with a cash bar for liquor (7 percent), wine service only with dinner (3 percent) and “drink tickets” (1 percent). Two percent of couples took a BYOB approach, while 9 percent recorded not providing any alcohol at all at their wedding.

Whatever you choose to do, just make sure your guests who are imbibing know how to get home safely—and don’t forget to tip your bartenders (roughly $335 to be exact, according to our study).

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