Here's The Average Cost of Alcohol for Weddings You Need to See

Time to budget for your booze.
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
by
Chapelle Johnson
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
Associate Editor
  • Chapelle writes articles for The Knot Worldwide. She covers all things wedding-related and has a personal interest in covering celebrity engagements and fashion.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Chapelle was an editorial intern for Subvrt Magazine.
  • Chapelle has a degree in English writing from Loyola University New Orleans.
Updated Feb 23, 2024

Whether you prefer an ice-cold craft beer, a light pinot grigio or an aged whiskey, odds are you'll be providing your guests with alcohol at your wedding. That's why calculating the average cost of alcohol for a wedding is important because it can help you and your partner make an educated estimate of how much you should set aside for the big day. There are numerous aspects involved with the final cost, from guest count to the length of the reception, so we know it can seem overwhelming when you're mulling over your potential budget. Luckily, The Knot 2023 Real Weddings Study surveyed nearly 10,000 newlyweds to help you get an idea of how much alcohol usually costs for a wedding. Read below to learn what real couples spend on average for wedding alcohol right now, then head to The Knot Marketplace to find bar services near you.

In this article:

How Much Does Alcohol Cost for a Wedding?

According to The Knot 2023 Real Weddings Study, the majority of couples end up serving some type of alcohol or liquor at their wedding (over 90%, if you're curious). So how much do couples spend on booze? We found that the average cost of alcohol for a wedding, based on data from all over the country, was just under $2,800. Yes, this might seem like a big chunk of change, but most couples deem it a worthy expense, especially after they see their guests sipping signature cocktails and having fun on the dance floor.

The Average Cost of Alcohol By the Number of Guests

One of the main elements impacting a couple's wedding alcohol cost is the number of guests attending the event. The higher the number of guests, the more you'll pay for alcoholic beverages. Here are the average alcohol costs for weddings with guests from one to over 100.

Average Cost of Alcohol for a Wedding of 1 to 50 Guests

For weddings with 50 or fewer guests, couples spent an average of $1,430 on alcohol. In 2022, the average cost was $1,300, meaning the cost of alcohol for weddings has increased by $130. The average cost of a wedding overall was higher in 2023 compared to 2022, so it makes sense to see small increases across the board.

Average Cost of Alcohol for a Wedding of 51 to 100 Guests

For nuptials with 51 to 100 guests, married couples spent a little over $2,200 in 2023. This is roughly $300 higher than what the 2022 data found for weddings of the same guest count.

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Average Cost of Alcohol for a Wedding of 101 or More Guests

Those with more than 100 guests spent over $3,500 on alcoholic beverages, which is $400 more than in 2022. It's not a surprise that the bigger the guest list, the more you'll spend—unless the majority of guests don't drink alcohol, of course.

Other Wedding Alcohol Statistics You Should Know

Open bars were a big hit at weddings in 2023, with 62% of couples offering guests a full open bar, complete with beer, wine and hard liquor, at their wedding reception. This is a 5% increase in popularity compared to 2022 study data. We think this small but notable change is a direct result of couples prioritizing the guest experience. According to our study, guests being well taken care of is the most important thing to couples when wedding planning.

In 2023, 18% of couples served beer and wine only. These types of bars are a great option for couples who want to offer their guests an open bar experience without spending too much. The presence of cash bars remained similar to 2022 at 5%, even though there's still debate about if it's acceptable to have one. And, if you're planning a dry wedding, you're certainly not alone. Our study found 7% of couples who married in 2023 chose to abstain from serving booze at the reception, which helps eliminate alcohol costs from your wedding budget.

Despite the discrepancies in the types of wedding bars, there's one thing 45% of respondents had in common: a champagne toast. Whether couples married in a forest, a backyard or a ballroom, a little less than half of them raised a glass of bubbly at the reception. And don't think there's only one celebratory way to serve champagne at your wedding. Consider having an elegant champagne tower or having a staffer wear a tiered, structured skirt to hold the champagne glasses and add a wow factor to your wedding.

How Has the Cost of Wedding Alcohol Changed Over the Years?

The average cost of alcohol for a wedding increased from 2022 to 2023. In 2023, the expense was $2,800, which is $400 more than the previous year. These national averages are affected by the guest count, quality of alcohol, alcohol variety, if your guests are heavy drinkers, if you're serving signature cocktails and how long your reception will last. (Psst. Once you know the answer to those factors, use The Knot's nifty wedding alcohol calculator to help you make your alcohol shopping list.) There's a strong possibility this change happened because of inflation, which has increased costs across all industries, including weddings.

But no matter what kind of alcohol budget you have, you should have a professional caterer or bar service handling all the details. Some wedding venues will allow you to bring your own alcohol, but you must ensure licensed bartenders are serving. They won't overserve guests, they'll create delicious drinks, and have all the glassware, mixers and garnishes needed to make your wedding bar a success. And don't forget to tip your bartenders too, as they'll be working hard to keep your guests satisfied and happy.

Hiring bartenders and percentages aside, do what's right for you—whether that's having a full-service open bar or serving creative wedding mocktails. After all, your wedding day is about celebrating your and your partner's love with friends and family. So cheers to that!

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