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

Time to budget for your booze.
maddy sims the knot associate editor
by
Maddy Sims
maddy sims the knot associate editor
Maddy Sims
Associate Editor
  • Maddy writes for The Knot, with a specialty in beauty, sustainability, mental health and inclusivity.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Maddy wrote for several different publications, including Insider, Bustle, Real Simple and Apartment Therapy.
  • Maddy has a Bachelor's degree in magazine journalism and a Master's degree in health, science and environmental reporting (both of which are from Northwestern's Medill School ...
Updated Mar 01, 2022

Whether you prefer an ice-cold craft beer, a fresh white wine or an aged whiskey, odds are you'll be providing your guests with alcohol at your wedding. As such, you may be mulling over decisions like determining the cost of alcohol for your wedding.

While we're for all types of weddings (dry, bring your own alcohol and open bar are just a few options), a majority of couples—93% to be exact—end up serving alcohol at their weddings. So how much do these couples spend on booze? We found the average cost of alcohol at weddings, based on data from all over the country.

According to The Knot 2021 Real Weddings Study, the average amount of money spent on a reception bar/liquor was $2,300. It might seem like a big chunk of change, but most couples deem it as a worthy expense, especially after they see their guests sipping signature cocktails and having fun on the dance floor.

There are a few factors that come into play when determining how much you'll spend on alcohol. First and foremost, is your wedding guest count. The higher the number of guests, the more you'll pay for alcoholic beverages. According to our study, couples who hosted weddings of 50 or fewer people on their guest list spent an average of $1,300 on alcohol, while those with more than 100 guests spent over $3,000 on booze. Of course if your guests tend to be heavy drinkers, you'll spend more than if you've invited a bunch of teetotalers.

Open bars were a big hit at weddings in 2021 with 67% of all couples offering guests a full open bar (complete with beer, wine and hard liquor) at their wedding reception. In other instances, about 15% of all couples went the route of serving beer and wine at the wedding without an open bar option. Something to keep in mind is some venues don't allow liquor on-site, so if it's important to you to serve a tequila concoction as your signature cocktail, then factor that into your venue hunt.

Finally, those signature cocktails are still popular with 36% of all 2021 couples serving their own rendition at the reception. (That's up from 24% in 2018 and 12% in 2008.) And if you need custom drink inspo, consider some trending favorites like lemon drop champagne punch or blackberry whiskey lemonade.

The biggest drop-off in alcohol options at the wedding is the presence of cash bars, which continues to decline in popularity. Just 5% of couples who exchanged vows in 2021 opted for this particular choice. In short, there are many different options available if you and your partner want to have a boozy celebration.

Despite the discrepancies in types of wedding bars, there is one thing that 50% of all respondents had in common: a champagne toast. Whether couples married in a forest, a backyard or a ballroom, more than one-half of all couples raised a glass of bubbly at the reception.

Whatever option you choose, you'll want to make sure that you have a professional caterer or bar service handling all the details. Some wedding venues will allow you to purchase your own booze from a liquor store, but you must make sure that licensed bartenders are doing the serving—they'll make sure that you have all the glassware, mixers and garnishes to make your wedding bar a success. And make sure your guests who are imbibing know how to get home safely. Don't forget to tip your bartenders too, as they'll be working hard to keep your guests satisfied and happy.

And, if you're planning a dry wedding, you're certainly not alone. As our study found, 7% of couples who married in 2021 chose to abstain from serving alcohol at the reception, which helps eliminate alcohol costs in your wedding budget too.

Our take? Do what's right for you—whether that's having a full-service open bar or serving your most creative mocktails. After all, your wedding day is really about celebrating you and your partner's love with friends and family. Cheers to that!

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