Brides who stocked their own reception bar…

posted 10 months ago in Reception
Post # 2
1129 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2019

Know your audience!! Does your crowd sway more towards fancy cocktails, regular mixed drinks, wine, or beer? How old is your crowd? These are good questions to ask yourself. We are having 35 people and only one signature cocktail, but our crowd is full of wine drinkers and most of them won’t have more than one cocktail.

Post # 3
6638 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2015

Ours was easy: beer was the only alcohol necessary. My parents bought it (and mom did the taste test since it was a local brew) so they took the leftovers home. I figured not many would have more than a couple. Many of us don’t see the appeal of alcohol and the others aren’t the kind to get drunk, so we had more other stuff. 

Definitely depends on your crowd though. If you want to party into the night, I’d figure on four per drinker. Some will have more, others less. And remember, signature drinks are a trend to ensure you spend even more on your wedding than you already are. They are not a necessity and no one (figuratively speaking) actually cares if you don’t do that.  

Post # 4
536 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

I’d shop somewhere that accepts returns for alcohol that way you don’t have to worry about overbuying. Maybe Costco for the sodas and mixers? 

Post # 5
1680 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2018

Contact a liquor store in the area.

We contacted a liquor store that was referred to us which is experienced with delivering for events.  They gave us a detailed listing of how much alcohol we needed along with pricing.  I mean they literally told us how many bottles of vodka, rum, beer we would need and we used that as a guideline to make comparisons with what liquor we could buy ourselves.  In the end we pretty much went with the liquor store delivery as it wasn’t cost effective to do it ourselves.  They did take liquor returns but didn’t take beer.

 Oh and I agree with pp’s to know your crowd since who drinks and who doesn’t should be taken into consideration in terms of how much to order.  Your venue might actually know a liquor vendor so ask.


Post # 6
1905 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2019

No serious advice… we are doing the same for our October wedding and I have similar questions. 

But here are some of my thoughts:

I will only buy from a store who accepts returns unless I know I’ll drink the leftovers. 

Where I live Costco is more expensive than another big chain liquor specialty store. Price check everything just in case. 

I’m not going to stress too much about how much of each to get… if somebody wants a drink bad enough, they will be flexible and order what remains. As long as I don’t completely run out of everything, I’ll be in good shape. 

My goal is to keep their options varied but still simple. I’m going to mimic airline alcohol options. Beer (one light and one dark option)  one white wine, one red wine, one champagne, vodka, tequila, rum and whiskey. Coke, sprite, cranberry, tonic and soda water. Lots of limes.

No special drinks except maybe margarita because we get a free machine to use at my venue and my sister loves them. 

I want everyone to have a champagne toast, or sparking fruit juice, so I’m figuring one bottle per table of champagne and 4 of the fruit juice to circle around for kids and sober people. Beyond that I’ll tack on 3 bottles of champagne to keep at the bar for regular consumption. 

I’m assuming for my group that all adults will have 3 drinks ( most are occasional drinkers, with a few that don’t drink and some that drink a lot). I’m assuming 1/3 will drink beer, 1/3 will drink wine/champagne and 1/3 hard liquor. 

Beyond that I’m just going to do math and hope for the best. 

Post # 7
1680 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2018


You might want to consider including sparkling cider for the non-drinkers.  At least you can buy and return them to the supermarket.

Post # 8
376 posts
Helper bee

We will be having a wedding probably with less than 60 ourselves and 10 of them will not even be old enough to drink. But I am thinking going to costo and getting two big bottles of white whine. two red… and probably one big pack of budlight and one big pack of sweetwater 420. I don’t think people will drink much liquor if any and it will be hot outside … so thats what we are doing FOR SURE… 


Although me and the fiance are liquor drinkers.. not many others are in our family. I MIGHT bring a few top shelf liquors. I don’t know. If we do it will be smaller size bottles with various mixers… but more work than its worth. 

Post # 9
6860 posts
Busy Beekeeper

We stocked ours. The only thing we ran out of was malibu rum, I didn’t think it would be so popular! 

That said, I would keep an eye out for sales at other places that you can return to. You might spend a tad more per bottle, but the ability to return will set your mind at ease. We returned about 1/4 to 1/3 of what we bought.

Post # 10
3418 posts
Sugar bee

We had 90 guests and did beer, wine and margaritas from costco. We spent about $1,000. We just kept the leftovers and drank them over time.

Post # 11
1309 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: City, State

We spent about $600 at costco for 100 guests on every kind of alcohol they had so people had a variety to choose from. We ran out of fireball though.

Post # 12
3723 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

We bought from a liquor store that took back returns with exceptions. They ordered by the box, so they would take back full boxes (for example, 6 bottles of the same wine). I think they would also take back the large bottles of liquor too. We bought waaaaaay too much. It all goes back to knowing your audience.

Post # 13
21 posts
  • Wedding: September 2018

We had 60 people and only did beer and wine. I knew my audience and did every single websites calculators, people had a good time into the night and we ended up sending many of our guests home with bottles of wine and cases (CASES!) of beer haha so it was WAY off. Still for all of the wine, beer, soda and water, we only spent $800. We went to a wine outlet and then to Wegmans (a grocery store near us) for the beer and soda. The grocery store had a great return policy but we just saved the leftovers. I still have 5 bottles of wine, and 2 cases of beer left and our wedding was in September haha

Post # 14
55 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: September 2018 - City, State

We had 40 guests, 34 of which could drink. We have some serious beer drinkers and went through 1.5 pony kegs of craft beer, 30 cans of sub-par beer, 2 bottles of wine, and a 6 pack of wine coolers for a guest that was gluten free. I anticipated more wine so we brought bottles home but it was a good time. 

Post # 15
1357 posts
Bumble bee

We bought wine and champagne from Trader Joe’s, and they take returns. We had several cases of wine that we returned, and it was all very easy and affordable. We got two kegs of beer from a liquor, and people only drank half of each. :/ 

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