Alcohol. The word normally evokes a reaction of some sort, whether or not you let it show. You love it or hate it, can take it or leave it, or are for or against it. Like wine and beer, you like it or you don’t. Deciding whether or not to serve alcohol at your wedding reception or other big event is usually not the tough question. Whether you’re just budgeting or actually purchasing it on your own, the tough part is deciding what to serve and how much of it. Fortunately, the numbers that will help you plan already exists. And I tried to make them pretty.
On average, your of-age guests who partake in the activity of drinking alcohol will drink one alcoholic beverage per hour of your reception (or event) for a reception taking place on a weekend evening.
Keep in mind that this is on average. You typically know your guests well enough to know whether or not that statistic will ring true for them. For example, when my husband and I got married we had about 1/4 of the guests who didn’t drink, 1/4 who we knew would drink under that average, and about half that we knew would blow that average out of the water…as in double or triple that…so we made adjustments in our numbers to account for that.
Mathematically speaking, this works out as follows:
150 Guests x 4 Hours = 600 Drinks (Servings)
Simple, right? But what do you serve? If you look at the pretty little chart above, you’ll see the percentage of each that you need to have on the left hand side. If you’re only serving beer and wine, you’ll need 20% beer and 80% wine…or
600 Drinks x 20% Beer = 120 Servings of Beer
600 Drinks x 80% Wine = 480 Servings of Wine
It is typically suggested that you serve 2 types of beer, one light and one that is more “interesting” for the beer connoisseurs. Knowing your guests will also help to shape your decision on this matter. If most of your guests came from a beer club, you might want to have more than two on hand. And if the bride or groom (or hosts of the event) like a particular beer more than another, by all means, pick that one!
Fortunately, you don’t need to pull a random number out of the air regarding how much of which types of wine to serve, either. There is a nice little ratio:
1.25 Red : 1 White : 1.25 Champagne
Traditionally that ratio refers to the number of cases of each that you’ll need. I don’t want to spoil my graphic below, but for the sake of understanding I’ll go ahead and tell you that there are 12 Bottles or 60 servings of wine in a case. Done per serving, the ratio looks like this:
75 Servings Red : 60 Servings White : 75 Servings Champagne
Using our example of the 150 guests at a 4 hour reception with 80% of the alcohol served being wine, this is how much you would need to purchase of the Red, White, and Champagne:
2.83 Cases/34 Bottles/170 Servings Red : 2.3 Cases/28 Bottles/140 Servings White : 2.83 Cases/34 Bottles/170 Servings Champagne
Now that I’ve broken a mental sweat and many of you have developed that glossed-over look in your eyes, here’s how the servings of different alcoholic beverages break down, in prettier form:
I hope that makes the example of how much wine you’d need a little easier to understand! Beer is so much easier to calculate because 1 bottle is 1 serving. A 12 pack is 12 servings. Life would be so much easier if everyone just drank beer…
The other option to consider is having a full bar, which includes liquor and a whole new set of percentages…but I don’t want to spoil ALL of the fun…I’ll let you calculate those numbers on your own!
So will you be serving alcohol at your Wedding Reception or next big party? Do you have to buy your own alcohol, or does the venue provide it? Did you find these graphics and numbers helpful? Let me know if you have any questions or if I left anything out! Happy planning!
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