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How Much Alcohol For A BYOB Wedding

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When it comes to alcohol, hiring a wedding venue that’s BYO alcohol friendly sounds like a great idea. You can purchase your own alcohol in the quantities you will need. Plus, you can hunt around for the alcohol at the best prices too!

But if you are considering using a wedding BYO alcohol-friendly venue, there are a few things to think about!

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 for your wedding reception.

wine bottle with custom label and wine glass half full side by side.

Things to consider with a BYO venue

  • You may need a special license from the Council if you BYO alcohol and then plan to sell it to guests to recoup the costs.
  • It’s also good manners to let guests know before your wedding if you are planning on charging guests for their alcohol. Take a read of our article, Do I Need to Inform Guests It’s a Cash Bar Only? for details on how to do this.
  • If you have a special license or liquor license, you will need to have a duty manager.
  • Miscalculating how much alcohol you will need.
  • Organizing your glassware can be hard to manage. Will you hire it and how much will you need? If you do not have enough, how are you going to clean it? Will you be able to wash it before returning the glassware?
  • Some venues require couples who allow guests to BYO their alcohol to pay for or provide security to keep both people and property safe.
  • Who will your bar staff be? They are required to follow the law in that intoxicated people cannot be served, shots must be measured accurately and only those above the legal drinking age are consuming alcohol.

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 the 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.

Buying too much alcohol for the wedding

A downside to BYO is you take on the risk of purchasing too much alcohol! 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 liquor 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 afterward, 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 leftover 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 case lots at a time – some 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, 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 for a Wine Plan: If 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.