Few events say ‘license to drink’ like weddings. If you aren’t the sort of person whose friends and family love to tie one on, you might think that the alcohol is going to take a backseat to the food, entertainment, and décor, but unless your entire guest list will be abstaining, you’re going to have to serve liquor. For the average wedding, alcohol costs tally up to between 10 and 20 percent of the entire wedding budget.
The irony is that you, the bride and groom, might end up being the most sober ones at your wedding. While a sip or two may quiet any nerves, the last thing you want to do is end up staggering around with a garter in your teeth or shoving cake into the wrong person’s mouth. Plan to keep your own alcohol consumption to a minimum so you can enjoy your day to the fullest – now, and when you watch the video later.
The same pressures do not apply to your guests, who are limited only by their driving arrangements and personal tastes. Most people will want to take advantage of the special day by indulging in some good food and wine! Here is what you need to consider when planning the alcohol at your wedding:
Bottles and Cans
You know you want to serve beer, wine, hard liquor and champagne, but how much should you stock? The first thing you need to know is how much each bottle (750 ml) contains, in terms of servings.
- 1 bottle of wine = 5 glasses
- 1 bottle of champagne = 8 glasses
- 1 bottle of liquor = 18 mixed drinks
There is still some math involved. If you are having bottles of wine at the table during dinner, and you assume each guest will drink two glasses during their meal, you can get by with 3 bottles of wine per table of 8 guests. As a rule, match 2 out of the 3 bottles to the main course. If your main course is prime rib, put 2 bottles of red and 1 of white at each table; if your main course is Dover Sole, put two bottles of white and one of red.
Whether or not you put wine out, you should know what most people like to drink at weddings, and stock accordingly. An open bar at the reception should be able to mix any drinks that the guests request, but popular mixed drinks traditionally include daiquiris, mojitos, martinis and margaritas, so by all means jump onto this theme and have the bartender create a signature mixed drink along these lines (if you create it, they will come).
– Estimate roughly one drink per person for each hour that you plan on serving drinks at the reception. If you expect your wedding reception to last for four hours and you have invited 100 guests, estimate a total of 400 drinks.
– Use standard per-drink consumption measures to determine the amount of alcohol you will need for your reception: 1 to 2 ounces of alcohol for each cocktail, 4 ounces for each glass of wine and 8 to 12 ounces for each beer, depending on the size of the glass, bottle or can.
– Calculate spirits based on 1.5 oz. per drink to ensure a sufficient supply. Although a standard cocktail contains 1 oz. of alcohol, spillage and incorrect measurements may happen unless you have professionals tending bar. Since a standard 750 ml bottle will make 18 cocktails.
– Calculate beer needs based on whether you want to serve beer on tap or in bottles or cans. For a total of 200 servings of beer, purchase a half keg for beer on tap or 33 cases of 12-pack bottles or cans.
– If your guests are predominantly young men, expect a higher beer consumption. A predominantly female audience may consume more wine and wine coolers.
You might have wait staff circulating with trays of champagne at set intervals, or you might confine it to toasting the bride and groom – it’s really up to you –Calculate champagne based on six glasses per bottle. For 100 flutes of champagne, purchase 17 750 ml bottles. Just know that the average drinker will drink 5 drinks in total throughout the course of the event. That’s about 1 drink per hour, for the average person. Other things to keep in mind:
-Cater your drinks menu to your guest list: If a lot of elderly family members will be in attendance, a nice punch might be a better drink choice to circulate at the reception than shots of Jager.
-Cater your drinks menu to your wedding theme: If you’re having a black-tie wedding, make sure to stock top-shelf booze; if you are having a beach wedding, make sure to have plenty of pina colada mix.
-Cater your drinks menu to the time of day: Luncheon and even morning wedding receptions are becoming more popular, and they are easier on the budget. You can definitely amp up the mimosas and ramp down the hard liquor if you’re having a daytime event.
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