Finalize the Reception Logistics
- 1 Determine the number of people expected to attend the wedding reception before embarking on any calculations. Include the bridal party in the final count, but omit any wedding guests under the age of 21, the legal drinking age in the United States, and any guests who you know do not drink alcohol.
2 Assess the overall demographics of the attendees. In a demographically diverse group, expect roughly 50% beer consumers, 30% wine drinkers and 20% who prefer cocktails. If your guests are predominantly young men, expect a higher beer consumption. A predominantly female audience may consume more wine and wine coolers.
3 Finalize the wedding reception itinerary, particularly the duration of pre-dinner cocktails and post-dinner dancing, and list the type of drinks you will serve during each portion of the reception. Some people prefer an open bar serving beer, wine and spirits throughout the entire reception, while others may choose to limit the types of drinks served. It is acceptable to limit pre-dinner cocktails to wine, champagne, punch or a special signature drink chosen by the bride and groom. While this may not change the amount of alcohol you must buy, it is crucial in determining how much of each type of beverage you must purchase. It is very common to serve only wine and champagne during the meal, with a full bar open for the post-dinner festivities.
Determine Specific Beverage Needs
- 4 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.
5 Use the ratio of beer, wine and spirits that you determined while reviewing the guest list to calculate the amount of each type of beverage. If you expect your guests to consume 400 drinks at the wedding reception in total, that translates to 200 beers, 120 glasses of wine and 80 cocktails using the standard 50/30/20 ratio.
6 Calculate necessary champagne for toasting separately, using one 4 oz. glass per person. Many of the guests who are otherwise beer, wine or cocktail drinkers will sip the champagne during the toast to be polite, but will probably not consume the entire glass.
Calculate Total Alcohol Needed
- 7 Use standard per-drink consumption measures to determine the amount of alcohol you will need for your reception: 1 to 2 oz. of alcohol for each cocktail, 4 oz. for each glass of wine and 8 to 12 oz. for each beer, depending on the size of the glass, bottle or can.
8 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.
9 Calculate wine based on one 750 ml bottle providing roughly five glasses of wine. For 120 glasses of wine, purchase 24 bottles, which is the equivalent of two cases.
10 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, you will need the equivalent of 4.5 bottles of liquor.
11 Calculate champagne based on six glasses per bottle. For 100 flutes of champagne, purchase 17 750 ml bottles.
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