Wedding Reception 101: Estimating Drink Cost Per Person


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Before we delve into wedding reception drink cost estimations, it’s important to note there’s no real way to know how much your guests will consume. Some might have a glass and a half of champagne while others guzzle two bottles’ worth of wine and several beers. However, obtaining an estimate is still a good idea when going about wedding planning.

Per Hour

It’s usually best to assume each guest will consume three to five drinks an hour. Consuming five drinks an hour is enough to put a guest on the Booze Train to Hangover Central–and that’s assuming the person doesn’t do anything embarrassing in the meantime. Nevertheless, keep this assumption in mind.

More White Than Red

Guests generally consume more white than red wine–for one thing, the former goes down a whole lot easier. If you’re serving beer as well as wine, remember that people tend to drink more wine when both are offered. One case of wine serves about 100 people, while beer is one for every person at your reception.

Failing To Finish

It’s quite common for wedding guests to fail to finish a glass of wine or beer before getting another from the open bar. This is generally due to distractions such as other wedding guests, dancing, and general intoxication.

Understanding Your Guests

What does your wedding guest list look like? If it’s demographically diverse, you’re likely looking at 20% cocktail drinkers, 30% wine drinkers, and 50% beer drinkers. If your guest list is mainly young men, plan for more beer consumption. If the guest list is mainly women, you’ll probably see more empty bottles of wine.

Over 100

If you’ve invited 100 people to your wedding, plan on some 400 drinks consumed. This generally plays out into 200 beers, 120 glasses of wine, and 80 cocktails. A half keg of beer is recommended, as is 24 bottles of wine. About 4.5 bottles of liquor is recommended if you’re serving the hard stuff.

Keep these tips in mind to avoid running out of alcohol…and annoying your guests!