Planning your Beverages & Liquor needs for your Wedding

Choosing what beverages to serve and how much you need can be a tedious job. Here are some helpful tips:

The general rule is 50 percent of your guests will prefer wine, 30 percent will prefer beer and 20 percent will prefer mixed drinks. My experience from catering for over twenty some years though has taught me that if the drinks are free a lot of the beer drinkers will go for a mixed drink.

Liquor: How Many Bottles?

No matter how often one entertains, there’s always the question, ‘How many bottles of liquor do we need?” Using the following measurements as a guide, one can judge the number of drinks per person. The average guest will have two or three drinks, or figure roughly one drink every half hour per person. A good rule of thumb in gauging how much champagne is required is to calculate one bottle for every two to four people.

For a large group and a long reception, it’s better to use small glasses (6 oz. or 8 oz.), because people frequently set a drink down and forget where they put it. For this reason, for a long reception with dancing and so forth, it is recommended to have at least three serving glasses per person no matter what you are serving.  You will need them!

When looking at this chart keep in mind people do not drink as much as they use to, so you might be able to cut it in half and still be covered.

You know your group better than anyone to decide how much you will need!

Table of Liquor Equivalents

If You’re
Pre-Dinner Cocktails
You’ll Average
For a Party
You’ll Average
4 People8 to 12 drinksone fifth12 to 16 drinksone fifth
6 People12 to 18 drinkstwo fifths18 to 24 drinkstwo fifths
8 People16 to 24 drinkstwo fifths24 to 32 drinkstwo fifths
12 People24 to 36 drinksthree fifths36 to 48 drinksthree fifths
20 People40 to 60 drinksfour fifths60 to 80 drinksfive fifths
30 People60 to 90 drinksfive fifths90 to 120 drinksseven fifths
40 People80 to 120 drinkseight fifths120 to 160 drinksten fifths
60 People120 to 180 drinkstwelve fifths180 to 240 drinksfifteen fifths
80 People160 to 240 drinkssixteen fifths240 to 320 drinkstwenty fifths


Wine: Serving Temperatures 

The wine serving temperature can significantly influence the taste of wine. Serving wine cool can help to mask the flaws seen in young or less expensive wines, whereas serving wine warmer will allow the bouquet and complexity of the wine to be more fully appreciated. The cooler serving temperatures are ideal for aged or more expensive wines. Lower temperatures also repress the ‘bite’ that alcohol can give in lighter bodied wines. Click here for a table showing ideal wine serving temperatures.

Generally, refrigerators are set too cold (38-40°F) for white wines and modern-day room temperature (66-70°F) is too warm for reds. However, specialized equipment, beyond a good wine thermometer, isn’t always necessary: a few minutes of either letting a white stand to release some of the chills or chilling a red for 15 minutes can work wonders. Wine serving temperature chart from


Liquor Tips for Your Party


One bottle of Champagne serves six flute size glasses – so if you want everyone to have a toast one bottle per table will give every one half of glass for the toast.

1 case (12 fifths) serves 50 people (82 drinks). The champagne fountain will operate with as little as 3 bottles of champagne and as much as 5 gallons.

Plan approximately two drinks per hour, per person. There are 21 to 28 drinks per quart of liquor. Taste preferences today are Vodka, Scotch, Gin, Bourbon.

One gallon of punch serves approximately 24 persons (32 – 3oz. drinks with ice).

Cocktail Napkins
Plan approximately two to three napkins per person for a three-hour party.

One pound of coffee serves 60 to 80 cups.


Bartenders Needed

You will need about one bartender per 75 guests if only serving beer and wine. Serving a full bar you will need one bartender for about every 50 guests. A professional company should supply the bartenders for liability purposes.

How many bars do you need? 

You will want at least two bars for 150 to 200 guests, and a minimum of three bartenders lets one bartender go between bars to help keep them both efficient.

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