How To Serve Alcohol At Your Wedding Reception (And Get It Right)

Some of the most common questions we get asked by our clients are in relation to the drinks they will be serving up during their wedding celebrations . Now, while we have all bought drinks for small gatherings and parties, buying for a few hundred can seem like a daunting task, especially if it’s the first big wedding in the family. So to make things a little easier, here is a quick summary highlighting the type of items you will need to stock behind your bar.

1. Know your crowd
Firstly, it is essential to know your crowd and their drinking habits. If your guests are heavy drinkers than adjust accordingly. Think about the type of bar you want; whether you want to offer a beer and wine-only selection, a full bar or something a little in-between. We recommend you work alongside a professional bartending company or your venue to avoid blowing your budget on unnecessary stock.

2. Mixers & spirits
When it comes to stocking your bar you do not need every mixer or spirit known to man, however, there are a few essential must-have items:

Spirits: Whiskey, Gin & Vodka
Optional: Rum & Tequila
Mixers: Tonic, Juice, Club Soda & Soda
Garnishes: Lemon, Limes & Mint

You will of course need to modify your bar to suit your family and friends’ preferences. For example, if your guests are avid vodka drinkers then you’ll obviously need more of this and so on.

3. Beers & wines
Always have at least two selections of beer (one strong and one light). Think about how you’d like to serve up the beers and whether you’d prefer bottles or kegs. Bottled beer tends to work out more expensive however, kegs require a tap system that you would need to rent. While there are pros and cons to supplying your own beer, more often than not it will be easier for the venue to provide the beers on a cash or tab basis to avoid the hassle. This also means your guests will have more of a selection to choose from.

With your selection of wines, always ensure you have one red and one white option. If your guests have a certain preference then bear that in mind and try not to have more than one blend of each. Usually one bottle of each during the meal will be enough for a table of 10.

4. Bubbles
For any drinks receptions champagne, prosecco or sparking wine tends to be most popular. You may also require some additional bubbles for your toast. Again, if you want to avoid the hassle, source the bubbly directly from the venue as this can be charged by consumption to ensure there are no wasted bottles. On another note, there are no rules to say you have to have bubbles for your welcome drinks or even during the toast – you can always opt for fun cocktails or mocktail alternatives.

5. Quantities
It’s important to speak to your bar team regarding quantities. They will be able to advise you on how many bottles or cases will be sufficient in relation to your guests’ numbers. To give you a rough indication, a bottle of champagne will usually fill around six to eight flutes. A bottle of wine will fill around five standard sized glasses and a litre bottle of liquor will make around 18 drinks. For every one bottle of spirit you should look at buying three bottles of mixers. For soft drinks, on average a 1.75 litre bottle will serve around eight tumbler glasses.

6. Glassware
Always remember to stock additional glassware behind the bar as you’ll need plenty of tumbler glasses, wine glasses and pint glasses. This can be provided by the venue, bar company or your catering team.

If you’re looking for a stress free alternative, then look into hiring a professional bar company or get your venue to stock all alcoholic beverages on a cash or tab basis. More often then not it will also balance out on cost.

If you need any assistance with your wedding planning journey contact a member of our team on 0116 268 8804 or via email


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