Alcohol at Reception Question

posted 2 years ago in Reception
Post # 2
3360 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

This calculator might help you have some estimate on how much to buy, since it’s going to vary depending on the length of the reception and the make-up of your guest list (adults, children, heavy drinkers, tee-totalers, etc.).

I’ll just say, from my experience, people had no problem with a limited open bar at our wedding.  We actually only offered wine and beer (there was no liquor available, not even for cash – we had guests who I knew would get crazy with shots, and just didn’t want it to be an option), and I heard no complaints.  People had a lot of fun, and we got a lot of compliments on having kegs of specialty beer available – I think you might get the same response from having your signature drinks in addition to beer and wine.  

Maybe, if you want to limit the drinks available, choose signature drinks that vary (different liquors, sweet/not sweet) – or have your signature drinks plus a variety of other liquors on hand (more bottles of popular liquors, like vodka and rum, only one of types you think might be appreciated but used less, like scotch or amaretto).

Post # 3
8850 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013 - Rocky Mountains USA

We had a similar setup for our wedding. We had just beer and wine, not even any signature drinks because it was too much of a hassle at the last minute, and it was fine! Our crowd are mostly beer and wine drinkers anyway though. We had 4 types of beer, including microbrews and 1 light domestic, and 4 types of wine, two white and two red.

As for amounts, what we did was use a few online calculators (I know Evite had a good one). Then also just go through your whole guest list and add up how much you think each person would drink, assuming you know them that well. Remember that receptions often go from 5 or 6 to 11 or later, so that’s a lot of drinking time. Average all those calculations together, then add another 20% just in case, especially since you can return leftovers. Running out of alcohol was basically my worst nightmare!

Post # 4
439 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2015


Post # 5
9526 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

We did beer (a big mix, Coors Light, Yeungling, Great Lakes etc) and wine (red, white, blush) and signature drinks (Old Fashioned, Vodka Lemonade and Hurricane). It worked great. There was something for everyone and it was much easier and cheaper than a full open bar.

Post # 6
9949 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2013

I would decide what to offer based on your guests.  Are they bigger wine and beer drinkers, or are they hard liquor drinkers?  At our reception, we had red and white wine, local beer, and then gin and whisky.  We also had grapefruit soda and then regular sodas, oh and tonic for gin and tonic.  We based those choices on what we know our guests like to drink.  To determine how much, you can use a calculator like the one above.  Are you allowed to take home the extra alcohol?

Post # 7
3344 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: January 2000

1) I think signature cocktails are stupid, a product of the wedding industrial complex, and often undrinkable to boot. Skip them.

2) beer and wine only is fine with me. If you insist on expanding drink options try a clear liquor (gin or vodka) and a dark one (Whiskey or rum) and mixers such as tonic, sodas, lime. Those are easy.

There are calculators for determining quanity, and besides, your caterer should guide you in that.

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by  .
  • This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by  .
Post # 8
7940 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2015

I think it’s nice to have the basics- vodka, gin, bourbon, scotch, rum – because a lot of people prefer these drinks with just soda/seltzer/tonic/water/ice  to “signature drinks” which always have a lot of extra sugar. 

Post # 9
127 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: Tarp Chapel

My bartending set up is going to be the same way. I’m hiring a bartender service, and purchasing the alcohol myself. The only difference is my venue doesnt allow liquor, just beer, wine and champagne only. 🙂


Post # 10
3217 posts
Sugar bee

Signature drinks are unlikely to appeal to a mass audience.

I would buy wine, beer, rum, whiskey, gin, vodka and then have the drinks made to order with the mixes provided by the caterer.  Liquor is not often chilled, so anything left over can be easily returned. 

Beer and wine alone is also fine.

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