Buying alcohol for a BYO wedding

Whether it is a glass of bubbly for toasting or a wee dram of whisky near the end of the night – the bulk of weddings held in New Zealand feature alcohol, in some form or another. Today we are covering figuring out how much alcohol to buy for your wedding at a BYO venue.

how much alcohol to buy for your wedding

Save your wedding budget by having your wedding at a BYO venue

The alcohol bill can take up a large chunk of your wedding budget, so buying it yourself can save literally thousands of dollars. Of course, the ability to do this depends on your wedding venue itself.  Some wedding venues have cheaper hire fees, as they’ll make their money through the bar takings. So if you want to bring your own alcohol in, make sure you consider whether the wedding venue actually allows BYO first (here’s an article with a heap of things you should consider when looking for a wedding venue – whether they are BYO is just one consideration).

If you’re a fan of watching over reading, then check out my video on buying alcohol for a BYO video below.

How much alcohol should I buy for a BYO wedding?

Here’s a rough guide to consumption: 1 drink per person, per hour, for the duration of the evening.   So if your wedding reception goes for 5 hours, that’s 5 drinks. If they are a wine drinker, that’s one bottle of wine per wine drinker (allowing for 5 glasses of wine in one bottle). If they are a beer drinker, that’s 5 bottles of beer.

If you’ve got heavier drinkers, then consider calculating more than one drink per person, per hour. Likewise, if you’ve got a lot of light drinkers, calculate less.  Unfortunately it’s like predicting the weather – we can use information at hand to have the best guess, but it all comes down to what happens on the day. If your wedding venue is experienced in BYO weddings, they might be able to give you a good guideline also. Chances are, they’ll require you to supply a certain amount of non-alcoholic drinks and low-alcohol options, so you’ll need to have a conversation with them and/or your duty manager about their requirements and responsibilities.

Calculate how many drinks to buy for your wedding

Over time we’ve developed a Wedding Alcohol Calculator – to help you estimate how many bottles of beer, wine (still and sparkling) and spirits (if applicable) to purchase. This calculator gives you a ballpark figure based on the number of guests, length of reception and whether you are doing beer & wine only or beer, wine & spirits.

If you are not having a BYO wedding, this tool is still helpful – you can use it to figure out a rough idea of what your guests might drink, then from there you can multiply out each item by how much you’re being charged. This will give you a ballpark figure for your wedding budget.

The Alcohol Planner is included in our Wedding Budget Template and Guest List Planner.

Buying too much alcohol for the wedding

A downside to BYO is you take on the risk of purchasing too much alcohol – for our wedding we sure did! If you enjoy the occasional glass of wine or the odd beer then at worst, you will not have to buy alcohol for some time… so make sure you pick drinks that you enjoy drinking yourself!

Most alcohol stores and even some supermarkets will let you do “sale and return”. This means they’ll sell you the alcohol, then after the event you can return unopened bottles to them for a refund. Sometimes these places are a little dearer to buy from, but you won’t be spending as much on bottles that’ll sit in your cupboard afterwards, so it can balance out.

If you’ve got a friend getting married shortly after you, and they’re having a BYO wedding as well, see if they would like to buy your left over alcohol from you. They might appreciate the chance to stock up!

Buying the alcohol for a BYO wedding

When you’ve got a BYO wedding, you are assured of a much cheaper alcohol bill. However there’s a little more work involved in the lead up – as you need to then buy the wine (and beer in some cases!).

Here are some ways to save on your BYO alcohol bill:

  • “Buy” wine with your Airpoints, or Flybuys (that’s how we bought all our sparkly stuff).
  • Buy case lots at a time – some supermarkets and liquor stores provide a hefty discount when you buy half or full cases of wine. Get in touch and see what’s on offer in your area.
  • Buy a bottle a week with your supermarket shop, and grab whatever is on special (helps soften the blow to your wallet)
  • Sale & Return – many liquor stores offer a “Sale and Return” service where you can buy your alcohol, then return whatever you don’t use – great peace of mind.
  • Sign up to a Wine PlanIf you have a year or more up your sleeve, some places have Wine plans. You get a case of wine delivered every three months with a selection of wines
  • A combination of the above: If you’ve got some time, start putting away cheaper wines then use a Sale & Return service for some peace of mind that you won’t run out.

Any other tips for BYO weddings?

Do you have any other tips to share about buying alcohol for a wedding?

2 thoughts on “Buying alcohol for a BYO wedding

  1. I think this is the only way to go and not much trouble at all….BUT where do you find a nice wedding venue that will let you supply your own alcohol….that is the question

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