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Do You Need A Liquor License For A Backyard Wedding?

Are you hosting, or planning, a backyard wedding? Then you’ll likely want to serve alcohol throughout the day. It is a big celebration after all! But do you need a license in order to do so? Here is what you are going to want to know.

So, do you need a liquor license for a backyard wedding? You generally do not need a liquor license for a backyard wedding, so long as you are not charging for drinks and that the wedding is being hosted privately; where guests are invited. That being said, laws and regulations can differ by state and location so it is always best to consult with the local authorities ahead of time.

Ultimately, how you approach it will depend primarily on where you live.

And in order to stay on the right side of the law, it’s best that you plan well ahead ( long in advance of the day) and understand exactly what is required of you.

Let us now take a closer look at some of the considerations you may need to take into account.

Backyard Wedding Liquor Licencing Considerations

Most backyard weddings should be able to serve liquor. However, there are some considerations, rules, and regulations that you may need to comply with in order to do so, legally.

It may require that you fill out particular paperwork, it may require that you pay a small fee.

For instance, several states may require that you acquire a ‘special event permit’.

They are generally straightforward to acquire, but its something that may need to be obtained nevertheless.

And even then, you may need to be mindful of how your backyard wedding proceeds.

  • You may need to finish up before a certain time, to comply with noise regulations,
  • You may only be able to serve alchohol during certain times, or periods of the day.
  • You may only be able to serve certain types of drinks, beer opposed to spritis, kegs opposed to cans or vice versa etc.

One thing that is generally true across states and locations is that your wedding will need to be a private event.

It mustn’t be open to the general public, and there must be a limit on the numbers.

From there, it is almost guaranteed that you won’t be able to charge for drinks or have a cash bar, without a temporary liquor license.

Some states are quite strict on this; sales may be banned altogether, or you may need an individual with training or experience serving alcohol to be able to do so.

This training may be required to ensure guests are safe at all times, and to prevent issues with underage drinking, for instance.

Besides, these are generally not bad practices; they will ensure that you are not liable for any legal failings.

And the homeowner is ultimately responsible; just remember that.

Ultimately, if I can offer you one piece of advice let it be this…

Do your research and know what is expected and you have to comply with before committing to serving alcohol at your backyard wedding.

How Much Alcohol Is Needed For A Backyard Wedding?

The way to find out how much alcohol is needed for your backyard wedding is to run a calculation based on how long your reception will be, how many guests you are inviting, and then how many servings come in each drink.

And you can start this all out with a drink ratio split between the guests.

In other words, you can safely assume that 50% will be wine drinkers, 25% beer drinkers, and 25% spirit drinkers.

The only exception here would be champagne/cava/prosecco; which you may want to offer to every adult for the toast.

From there you just need to plug the numbers.

Oh and don’t forget the soda too!


Total Adult Guests / Number of Glasses Per Bottle Of Champagne.

e.g. 100 Guests/5 (glasses per bottle) = 20 Bottles of Champagne needed.


(50% Wine Drinkers x Number of Drinks Needed According to Total Hours) / Number of Glasses Per Bottle Of Wine.

e.g (50 guests x 6 hours) / 5 = 60 bottles of wine needed.


(25% Beer Drinkers x Number of Drinks Needed According to Total Hours)

e.g (50 guests x 6 hours) = 300 cans/bottles of beer needed.


(25% Spirit Drinkers x Number of Drinks Needed According to Total Hours)/ Number of servings per bottle of liquor.

e.g (25 guests x 6 hours)/ 12 (number of servings per liquor bottle) = 15 bottles needed.

Do you get the math here?

Otherwise, follow this basic guide below:

Open Bar for 50 Guests

  • 30 bottles of wine
  • 150 bottles of beer
  • 8 bottles of liquor (750 ml)
  • 10 bottles of champagne for toast

Open Bar for 100 Guests

  • 60 bottles of wine
  • 300 bottles of beer
  • 15 bottles of liquor (750 ml)
  • 20 bottles of champagne for toast

Open Bar for 150 Guests

  • 90 bottles of wine
  • 450 bottles of beer
  • 23 bottles of liquor (750 ml)
  • 30 bottles of champagne for toast

Other Suggestions When Serving Alcohol At Your Backyard Wedding

Below, I list some other suggestions and best practices for serving alcohol at your backyard wedding.

  • Use tokens or chips to keep track of drinks, or limit guests in how much they can drink,
  • Opt for lower alcohol brands or types of drinks,
  • Have somebody actively watching or in charge of the drinks to ensure guests do not get too drunk,
  • Have plenty of bottle openers ready and at hand for people to use,
  • Let any close neighbours know of your intention and plans for you backyard wedding,
  • Line up some taxi services ahead of the wedding to enable those drinking to be able to get home,


In most locations, you should be able to offer liquor at your backyard wedding.

That being said, you may need to comply with certain, state-specific laws and regulations.

And you are going to want to adhere to them.

So, do reach out to your local authorities and ensure you fully understand your responsibilities and liabilities.