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What do you drink at a wedding?

Hello everyone :-) I am getting married in 9 weeks, on New Years Eve. Wow, it's coming up so fast!

We are having an open bar, and can bring in our own alcohol. We will be providing beer, wine, champagne, and mixed drinks - we are also providing several non-alcoholic options such as tea, coffee, lemonade, soda, and water.

We have hired a service that provides all bar set - up and mixers, but since they only have a license to serve, not sell, we are required to bring in all alcohol.

So to help us estimate quantity, tell me what you like to drink at weddings, or just events in general. We want to make sure our guests are well taken care of.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Depending on type of event - tonic or lime & soda (the latter in pint beer glasses)

    1. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!!

      My preference is wine, often white with h'ors d'oeuvres and then changing to red with the entree. That said, it's got to be at least a "decent" wine. That doesn't mean it has to cost a lot, and you're at an advantage, being able to pay retail prices for your wine. I'd MUCH rather drink plain club soda than bad wine. I'm really not a wine snob, but I'd no sooner drink bad wine than I would eat crappy food. Drinking wine should be pleasurable. If it sounds like I'm on a rant, it's only because I was just at a wedding this past weekend where the wine was just plain awful -- lower-than-bottom-shelf. Why bother at all?

      1. You'll always run into some people who only drink red wine, or don't drink beer, or only drink vodka, or drink anything but vodka.

        I drink everything, but my favorite is the sour family of cocktails. Aviations, Last Words, and tequila sours are some of my favorites.

        1. Congrats on the wedding!

          Basics are champagne for the toast, red & white wine, beer and soft drinks.

          Depending on the crowd, count on minimum 3 drinks each at a reception. That's 1.5 oz of hard liquor, a bit more than 1/2 a bottle of wine, 3 beers. I would personally add the champagne on top of the calculations, there's always someone willing to drink an extra glass of champagne.

          You can adjust up or down if the wedding is an all night affair, or if you're going to stop the festivities after 3-4 hours.

          I've seen people drink double or triple this at an all night affair where everyone's staying at a hotel. If it's on New Year's eve, maybe you'd better use New Year's celebration estimates for your friends rather than typical wedding recommendations.

          Some shops will take extra alcohol back. Again, there's always someone who's willing to take care of it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: tomishungry

            Btw, 1.5 oz of hard liquor is one drik.

          2. What exactly is it that you are looking for? Do you want a list of different types of alcoholic beverages (i.e. hard liquor) that you should buy for the bartenders to make into mixed drinks? If so, I would ask the service that is providing the bartenders. They will have a better idea of what the people in your area are drinking these days rather than the opinion of people that post here that seem to be from all over the world. Tell the service how many people will be attending your wedding reception and they can give you a good idea of how much of what types of liquor to buy.

              1. A mix of imported and domestic light beer and wine usually starts off the evening and accompanies the meal. The wedding party's toasts are usually paired with champagne -- figure 1-2 glasses per person. Once the dance floor opens up, many people switch to liquor, the usual rum, whiskey and vodkas are more than sufficient although having gin and bitters opens up a few more options.

                1. My suggestion is to find a store (liquor store or costco, etc) that will let you return unused, unopened liquor and greatly overbuy what you think you need. The last thing you want to do is run out at your wedding.

                  That being said, you should definitely get at least one type each of red and white wine, champagne, gin, vodka, whiskey, rum and tequila and two to three types of beer. Also, think if there is a special cocktail that you want to highlight, like a mojito, and make sure you have the right liquor and mixers (e.g., mint, bitters, sugar, campari, cointreau, etc).

                    1. I'm a former bartender who has worked for an agency that provided services much like you described in NYC, and at a historic inn that hosted countless weddings. I strongly second ESNY's suggestion to find a place where you can return unopened bottles, and buy 2x as much as you think you'll need. I have bartended so many weddings where the drinks ran out halfway through the reception, or there is nothing by one thing (usually it's the gin!) left and people get pretty annoyed about that. And this is really the thing you want to avoid - as the bartender, I'm the one who heard the comments about the bride and groom being cheap, about how the wedding sucked once it ran dry, about which bar the guests were going to sneak out to...don't know if these trickle back to the happy couple, but people get absurdly angered when there's no drink at the wedding! Ungrateful? Yes. But better to be safe with too much than sorry with too little.
                      The only time I ever tended a wedding where there was a tremendous amount of leftover alcohol was when it was a strictly wine event, and they just purchased way too much.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: RosemaryHoney

                        vodka is generally the first thing to run out-- for some reason people think that there are an equal amt of vodka, gin, & rum drinkers in the world (or that they drink an equal amt of the spirit ;-P)-- but no. you need more vodka at a bar. the younger the crowd, the more vodka you'll need. it's bad to run out of vodka, because not only can you not make basic vodka sodas, vodka tonics, etc, but you've got folks asking for white russians or cosmos or shooters, and you have to tell them that you can't make their drink for them. bums people out.

                        some spirits are very regional. you could probably get by in my area putting together a wedding bar w/o a bottle of tequila. wouldn't rec the same course of action in texas. some families love bourbon, others scotch. if possible, do a little research on the folks who will attend.

                      2. Rather than stocking a bar for beyond the basic mixed drinks, I would do a couple of signature cocktails -- something elegant and unique that people might not have tried before. I would LOVE to have the memory of a really delicious cocktail to go along with the other memories of the night!

                        I prefer to drink champagne at weddings -- call me traditional, but there's nothing quite as festive, IMO.

                        Are you serving a particular wine or wines with your meal? That will make a difference with the amount you plan. And I agree with CindyJ -- better club soda than crap wine. And if you buy delicious (but reasonable -- you can get really satisfying, interesting wine for $15/bottle) wine by the case, you'll be able to add it to your personal collection if you can't return it! :)

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: LauraGrace

                          Agreed! A few signature cocktails would be fine, along with beer, red and white wine and champagne for a toast.

                          1. re: Dcfoodblog

                            I disagree about the signature cocktails. You're providing a venue, an experience, a dinner menu. Let the guests choose the drinks. Less work for you, and less chance for disaster if the "signature drink" is a flop. You can always request a specific mixer (egg nog? lemonade?) from the caterer if you really want something memorable.

                            As others have said, make sure to have plenty of vodka, but don't forget some whiskey. And liquor stores often have specials on wine; if you can find salespeople who won't lie, ask them to tell you which are the best wines at the best prices.

                            1. re: guilty

                              I was just thinking, rather than stocking a bar for every conceivable iteration of cocktail, stock for the basics and then have a couple of signature drinks. Which you'd obviously try out extensively beforehand ;), thus avoiding the flop and/or disaster.

                        2. depends on time of day and whether or not I'm driving... also, depends on the age of the guests - ur college friends may prefer taking shots while grandma might prefer a gin and tonic... also, if u look online there are reccomendations for stocking a bar for events - try the columbia school of mixology, there's one on their website

                          1. Congratulations!

                            I agree it's not clear what you're asking or why. If you're trying to find out what all to buy and how much, consult with some catering company bartenders, and there are some online/wedding articles about how to estimate how much to purchase of different things.

                            If you're just mildly curious what people drink at a wedding, I think it just really depends on the person, the occasion, what they feel like, etc just like any other beverage choice. I don't have a drink that I "usually" or "only" drink, be it at a wedding or bar or at dinner or what have you, I drink whatever I feel like, whatever I'm in the mood for. I would think this would be the same for all your guests.

                            1. Signature drinks are fun but at a wedding, there are often people who don't drink too often and who will really appreciate having some basic beers or their standby mixed drink available. Don't consider just your region, but also where your guests are coming from; it was an Internet tip to include bourbon for Southern guests that reminded me that my uncle was a bourbon drinker (it wouldn't be one of the four basics at a Canadian wedding bar).

                                1. It really depends on YOUR guest list. You have to know your party. Are they big drinkers who enjoy good cocktails and high shelve liquor or are they more beer and wide people. You usually have to plan for both but I know at all the affairs I go to there are more people ordering cocktails and straight up liquor than beer and wine. Vodka seems to be the big item these days at weddings. Easy to drink in cocktail, martinis or on the rocks. It's a get off drink. and is very popular so stock up on lots of vodka.

                                  You want a good assortment of spirits to include scotch, bourbon, Canadian whiskey, vodka, gin, tequila, rum. Get at least middle shelf liquor, top shelf if you really like your friends.

                                  Beer and wine, sodas, mixers and garnishes.

                                  Me personally, well it depends on the bar and what's offered. A rum, scotch or bourbon straight up, on the rocks or in a cocktail depending on what's being offered. Vodka if the other selections suck.

                                  1. I agree that it a regional thing...here in the coastal South beer is the biggest drink, a signature drink (in our area usually something with Firefly volka,) Champagene and wine.
                                    If children are there a shirley temple is always fun and a lot of non drinkers /dds drink them too.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: LaLa

                                      You do realize that the wedding that is the topic of this thread occured 2-1/2 months ago.

                                      1. re: John E.

                                        Actually it showed up in my new post....but whatever maybe someone else will need the information.
                                        I will never understand why people feel like they have to pick on others on this board :(

                                        1. re: LaLa

                                          My intention was not to pick on you. I have found myself sometimes comnenting on an old thread that was time sensitive. I apologize if I've offended you.

                                          1. re: John E.

                                            I've rarely seen a thread that was time sensitive. Even if the OP's need for info is long gone, someone out there will want to know what to serve at a wedding, where to eat during Mardi Gras in NOLA, and whether that little clam shack people were raving about 6 years ago is still around.

                                            1. re: Isolda

                                              I was merely pointing out that it was an old thread. When I post on old threads I ackowledge that fact so that people understand that I am merely adding information for it's own sake rather than intending to answer the OP's question, because in fact the wedding had already occured. There's no real reason to make more out of my post than that. It has already garnered more attention than it deserved. My intention was not to insult anyone but to be helpful.

                                    2. If I'm getting married, I like to drink as much as I can before, during, and after. If you're planning a wedding, don't worry about anything except what you can afford. Your guests are there to participate in a joyous moment, not to get s#itfaced.

                                      1. Thanks so much to everyone who responded! Our wedding went perfectly, and we had plenty of alcohol!

                                        We ended up going through 48 bottles of wine - a mix of Chardonnay, White Zin, and Merlot, 4 kegs of beer, 12 bottles of tequila (shots, anyone?) 4 bottles of rum, 1 bottle of gin, and 2 bottles of whiskey - plus 6 bottles of vodka.

                                        We did a champagne toast at midnight, and went through about 12 bottles there as well.

                                        We had 225 guests.

                                        Thanks so much! You all are great!

                                        2 Replies
                                          1. re: lreynolds

                                            Congrats from me as well--you both look fantastic! And plenty of alcohol is certainly never a bad thing ;)