Wedding alcohol catering is something that confuses so many couples. Knowing what to supply; what type of bar package to choose; how much to organise for the event, and the logistics around glassware – there’s so much to consider when all you want to ensure is that your guests are happy and hydrated!!
So, here’s a run down of all things wedding alcohol catering for you to consider.
WHAT SHOULD YOU HAVE?
It is common for guests to start on one type of drink and then move to an alternative over the course of the event. This might be based on the food consumed, time of the day / night or just because!!
As a very general guideline, I often suggest to people that they provide the following options for their guests:
- 1 sparkling (Champagne, sparkling wine or Prosecco)
- 2 white wines
- 1 – 2 red wines
- 2 full strength beers
- 1 mid-strength beer
- 2 – 3 soft drinks
- Cider – if your guests are cider drinkers
- Annndddd… cocktails / spirits if you choose to go down that path.
There are some factors that will change this – such as age demographic of your guests, weather / time of the year, food pairing, type of event and the inclusion of cocktails or spirits.
Giving your guests too many options slows down service and also increases the chances of having insufficient quantities or way too much.
Generally there are 2 ways that you can pay for drinks if you are at a venue that supplies alcohol:
- Drinks package, or
- Pay by consumption.
A “Drinks Package” is offered as a fixed price per person and is based on the number of hours of your event and the quality of the drinks. A Drinks Package is a great option for those who want to have greater control over the amount spent across the bar. It is also a more cost-effective option if your guests are bigger drinkers.
In contrast, “Pay by Consumption” means the price of each drink ordered by your guests is tallied to give a total bill at the end of your event. If you feel that your guests are not big drinkers, this is often a good option for you.
In deciding which package is best for you, always take the time to crunch the numbers to see which option works out more cost-effective for you.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU SUPPLY?
So you’ve chosen a venue that allows you to provide your own alcohol but you have NO idea just how much you need to buy.
Sorry to say, but there is no quick answer to this – you will need to get out your calculator, pen and paper and start crunching some numbers.
In brief, you need to decide whether your guests are light, medium or heavy drinkers. I then use the following amounts as a starting point for calculating quantities:
- Light drinkers – 1.3 drinks / person / hour
- Medium drinkers – 1.6 drinks / person / hour
- Heavy drinkers – 1.8 – 2 drinks / person / hour
Serving more than one type of drink?
Using the number allocated to your guests’ drinking style (see above), multiply this number by an estimate of how many people will drink that drink.
Then multiply that by the number of hours of your event.
This will give you the number of drinks for that type of alcohol that your guests are likely to consume over the duration of your event.
Don’t forget when you are using this number for wine and sparkling quantities that this is the number of DRINKS – not the number of bottles. To get the number of bottles required, divide the number of glasses of wine you have calculated by 5 (as there is roughly 5 glasses of wine in each bottle). For sparkling divide your number by 6, as there is approx. 6 glasses per bottle of sparkling.
QUANTITY OF GLASSWARE
If you are in the position of needing to hire in your glassware, it is a cost that can add up quite quickly. Which means it is often an element that couples try to skimp on to pull-back on costs.
Why does allocating 1 glass per person not work?
- There are always breakages.
- People swap drinks through the night.
- It is realistic that people will put their drink down and not return to it.
Many events have bar staff (PS. BEST decision ever!) to serve, monitor quantities, restock, and clear away dirty glassware throughout the night. So, taking a staff member out to wash glasses will have a negative impact on the service that can be provided to your guests.
My suggestion is to hire sufficient glassware for 2 – 2.5 times the number of people likely to be drinking that type of drink.
Eg. 50 guests drinking Prosecco => 50 x 2.5 = 125 champagne flutes / glasses.
There are so many logistics around wedding alcohol catering at your event, which means it is so easy to get things wrong. So it is important that you are armed with the correct information to get it right.
If it’s all too confusing and you need help, DM or email me to arrange a time for us to chat. It will give you the confidence that you’ve nailed your alcohol catering – which is one less thing to worry about!
Or check out my super helpful downloadable resource, “The Essential Planning Pack” which will empower you to smash your planning and ensure you do not forget a thing for your special day.