Let’s be real. This is the part of the wedding that everyone REALLY looks forward to — cocktail hour. And what would a wedding reception be without some boozey mixed drinks. Drinks + dancing + good friends = guaranteed good times. But too much alcohol and your big day is sure to be more Jersey Shore or college frat party than a William and Kate royal affair. So first, let’s get some things cleared up. Like, for starters, how much alcohol do I buy? This is an important question to ask. One thing you definitely don’t want to run out of is drinks. At the same time, though, you’re not trying to be a Vegas nightclub serving bottomless margaritas.
So then, how exactly do you estimate the number of drinks to be consumed? Well, if your venue provides a bar or you opt to hire your own bartending service, then you’re mostly in the clear. Sure, it may cost a little bit more, but you may decide that the ease and convenience more than make up for the extra dollars spent.
Here’s some quick and easy tips to get you started. For a Friday or Saturday night wedding, estimate that:
1 bottle of wine = 5 servings
1 case = 12 bottles
750 mL bottle of liquor = 18 servings
1 bottle = 1 serving of beer
1 keg = 165 beers
Now that that’s cleared up, where do we go from here? Ratios.
Full bar = 20% liquor, 15% beer, 65% wine
Beer and wine only = 20% beer, 80% wine
Okay, we’re halfway there. But now we have to start doing the math. So let’s assume one drink per guest per hour of reception. Planning for a Saturday night wedding with 200 guests and a reception that begins at 6 p.m. and ends at 12 a.m., that’s 6 hours of drink consumption. So, for a beer and wine bar:
200 (guests) x 6 (hours) = 1200 drinks
1200 x 0.2 = 240 beers
1200 x 0.8 = 960 glasses of wine, / 5 = 192 bottles of wine, / 12 = 16 cases
Now that the hard part is over, we can get to the fun part. What kind of alcohol should I buy? Typically, a full bar includes the following: two beers (one light, one dark), white wine, red wine, champagne, vodka, gin, whiskey, tequila, rum and assorted mixers. Seem overwhelming? You’re not alone. Most weddings tend to go for a wine and beer only bar. Too much choice can be overwhelming for guests, and wine and beer tend to be the most consumed beverages anyway, so you may as well make things simple for yourself.