Boozing It Up

Author’s note: This post is the height of irony—I spent an hour pricing out liquor, and I don’t drink. I have NO IDEA if I did it right, because I don’t drink any of these things. But I thought someone else might find it helpful—just take it with a grain of salt, since I’m not very familiar with anything I’m pricing.

Our venue allows us to bring in our own alcohol. (Yay! This is supposed to be a huge money saver!) So that’s great, but now we have to figure out the details on our own:

  • How much?
  • Of what?
  • From where?

First off, we will be having an open bar. I know that’s pretty standard, but apparently not to my parents. My father really felt we should do a cash bar (?!?). Or at least limit it to beer and wine. We may end up doing beer and wine and a couple signature drinks, but the whole thing was highly amusing. He was really surprised when I said I didn’t want a cash bar.

The coordinator at our venue, as well as a couple of the caterers, recommended Binny’s—apparently they will drop it off and pick up unused/unopened/unchilled leftovers, and are great with recommendations. Good plan so far, but I’d like to come up with a relatively realistic estimate of what we’ll need for our wedding (for my budget spreadsheet, of course).

I had budgeted $2,000 for alcohol, based on bar packages ranging from $20–$30 per person, and then adjusting down for the cost savings of bringing in our own. WRONG. I ended up coming in around $1,000, a welcome surprise!

If you want to do the same, here’s my spreadsheet, with more about my method below.

Miss Clover’s BYOB Alcohol Estimator:

I used Real Simple’s calculator (“calculator” sounds a little more precise than this is, but it was definitely better than my random guessing!) and generated a suggested list of what to buy. They give numbers for 100 and 150 guests, and I’m guessing our 163 invites will put us around 130, so I split the difference to find the number of bottles to buy.

Summary: 18 bottles each of wine, 25 of champagne (I don’t think we will, though), 180 beers, and 15 bottles of liquor.

To get actual pricing, I needed to know what brands to buy (and as a non-drinker, I don’t have any of that knowledge—I don’t know what’s cheap and what’s fancy and how much things should cost). My picks weren’t awesome—Shamrock said I chose bad beer, but what do I know! I looked at quotes from caterers that included bar packages and used those brand names to price out the details. For consistency, I used all 750 milliliter bottles for wine and liquor, and all six-pack pricing for beer. Buying larger bottles (or greater quantities) is a good way to save money, but it was easiest to reflect it this way—plus then it’s a pleasant surprise when it all costs less!

Are you able to bring in your own alcohol for your wedding? What kind of savings are you getting?


Mrs. Clover

Wedding Date:
June 2014
Picking the Palette
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  1. Guest Icon Guest
    Mila, Guest @ 8:16 am

    I had Binnys do all the estimating for me and since they picked up all the leftovers, I was pretty happy with the result

  2. Member
    kristenspa 10 posts, Newbee @ 8:39 am

    I used Binny’s too! I just got married on Jan 4th, and they were great. I just emailed them with the number of people and what we wanted (we did beer, wine, signature drinks, and an open bar, but no champagne toast). I got an estimate back that day, and then my husband and I went in to speak with the contact, look at all the options for hard liquor, etc. We ended up having a lot of wine left over, but everything else was pretty spot on. We didn’t run out of anything, but we also didn’t return a lot (except for the wine). Also, it was nice to go in to compare prices, etc. Our lady was able to lock in sales prices as well, so even if the alcohol wasn’t on sale on the day it was delivered, they still gave us the sales price. Also, only $20 for them to deliver and another $20 for them to pick up everything left over to be returned!

  3. Guest Icon Guest
    Diana, Guest @ 8:44 am

    I had Binnys do the alcohol for my wedding this past year. They were fabulous. We ended up returning a lot of items since we did our order on our estimated headcount rather than our final headcount and there was zero issues. I will caution you that they are strict on what you can return (ie. if it’s iced or opened, it’s yours). Our caterer iced a lot of beer for our April wedding, and people did not drink that much beer so we ended up with at least 7 cases of beer to keep. If you know that your family and friends have a preference for certain types of alcohol, let your caterer know that so that you are able to return the most of what is not used at the end.

  4. Member
    blonde17jess 1290 posts, Bumble bee @ 8:57 am

    We have a BYOB venue as well, but in Pennsylvania, we have strict laws regarding alcohol. We have to purchase the beer through our venue (kegs) at a set price point, and then we can bring the bottles of whatever liquor we want, which we will buy through the state store. I’m expecting to rely on my BFF who coordinates weddings and events for a living, to help with the estimates, but I’m excited that we will DEFINITELY save money over the standard bar packages, plus be able to get better brands!

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    Amanda, Guest @ 9:35 am

    I bought my alcohol at costco at they let us return anything that wasn’t opened, so we did that on our way to our Honeymoon and got some extra spending money. Wine runs about 35% cheaper than we found it anywhere else.

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    Abby, Guest @ 10:07 am

    We did Binny’s for our wine and they did a nice job working with our budget. However, make sure you know your guests. Binny’s thought everyone drinks red wine over white, which we also thought, but that was wrong. We were out of white wine mid-way through our reception and came home with about 4 cases of red wine.

  7. pyramid Member
    Mrs. Pyramid 104 posts, Blushing bee @ 11:32 am

    Very cool! We can’t BYOB for our venue, but I’m sure it would have been a cost saver!

  8. Member
    LaughLines 346 posts, Helper bee @ 1:27 pm

    We did BYOB and it was a nice way to save money and customize to what our group would like. Our caterer was really helpful with our numbers – we hired their staff as bartenders, and they wanted to make sure there was enough so it didn’t reflect badly on them (or us!), so we appreciated their guidance.

    We ordered more white wine than red since it was summer (and that worked well – we ended up with red left over), and more vodka than other liquors, since they advised most people were happy with a vodka drink if anything (everything?) else ran out.

  9. msbicycle Member
    msbicycle 718 posts, Busy bee @ 1:42 pm

    We ended up spending more on alcohol than we did on food, which was a major surprise to us!

  10. Member
    sweetkerryb 10 posts, Newbee @ 3:35 pm

    Our venue in Narragansett, RI also allows us to BYOB. We are purchasing our own hard liquor as it goes on sale through out the year and beer and wine from a store that will refund unused alcohol. Another saving bonus for us is the state of RI went tax free on Liquor and Wine for the next 6 months so we are taking full advantage!

  11. msclover Member
    Mrs. Clover 123 posts, Blushing bee @ 3:58 pm

    @Mila: @kristenspa: @Diana: @Abby: We’re hoping to use Binnys, but our venue said they hadn’t been getting back to people. Hopefully that will be better by the time our wedding rolls around!
    @Amanda: We’re considering doing Costco too–I need to do more price research!

  12. mspalmtree Member
    Mrs. Palm Tree 1122 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:13 am

    This is semi-unrelated but I love the “MaryMarryMike” play on words! LOVE.

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