Need to work out how much wedding booze you need? Here’s our handy guide…

Most wedding receptions involve liquid refreshment. If your reception is in a venue which takes care of everything for you (such as a hotel) then all you really need to do is decide which drinks to serve, and whether you want to have a pay bar later in the evening or continue to provide free drinks all night.

If your reception is somewhere else, like a marquee, then a bit more planning is required:

  • How and where do you buy your drinks?
  • How do you get the booze to the venue?
  • Who is going to serve the drinks?
  • Do you need to set up a bar?
  • Will the venue charge corkage?

Many couples opt for an open bar, where guests have access to unlimited drinks throughout the entire reception.

While this is certainly the most gracious approach, it’s also the most expensive and could end up costing as much as 10 to 20 percent of your total budget.

An alternative is the “limited,” or “soft,” bar, where you offer a careful selection of drinks (say, wine, beer and vodka cocktails) at the bar during specific times then have waiters serve wine or beer during the meal.

If you are on a tight budget then consider skipping booze such as cocktails and only serve the more cost effective drinks like beer and wine, but always remember some soft drinks for the none drinkers.

To avoid mass waste, some bride and grooms opt for a single glass rule, where you can’t get another drink until you hand in your glass or a ‘donation scheme’. Even asking people to donate as little as 50p per drink towards a charity of your choice will cut down waste considerably.

There are a few rules of thumb that will help you decide how much to buy:

  • For wine to accompany a meal, half a bottle per person is a good guide.
  • For the split between red and white wine, fifty percent white and fifty percent red is a safe bet, although in summer people will drink slightly more white than red so it’s better to aim for 60/40.
  • For champagne, one bottle will serve 6 people or 7 at a push. For toasts you will only need one glass per person.

Knowledge of your guest list is essential in order for you to judge how much alcohol to order for the entire day and evening.

If you have friends and family who are drinkers then you will need to order more, however it is always better to over order and then return unopened bottles or keep then in you wine rack for future events.

Leftover wine will obviously last for years. Most beer is good for 6-12 months, but check the use-by dates when you buy the beer to make sure it is not too close to expiry.

Large supermarkets often agree returns on alcohol if the case is unopened, so check with your local supplier before you order.

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