The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Catering: All About the Booze

Food & Drink

When it comes to hosting the biggest and best dinner party of your life, we understand that you might feel like a fish out of water. Since we think your wedding reception should elicit joy, not stress, we're breaking down everything you need to know about catering. Last week explained a breakdown of your food options, and now we're giving you some big pointers about the bar. Here, our top tips to stocking the bar right!

First, ask yourself these three questions about the bar.

How much do I want to spend?
Bar packages usually come in tiers. Well liquor costs up to 50 percent less than top-shelf booze, and serving only wine and beer will shave off another 25 percent. But there's wiggle room; if your guests are vodka lovers, for example, you can add Grey Goose to a well-liquor package for a fee.

How long do I want it to be open?
The bar should be up and running when guests arrive at cocktail hour and shut down no sooner than an hour before the party ends. You can make adjustments within these times, though, to help bring the price of the party closer to your budget!

See More: 4 Pretty Bar Signs for Your Wedding Reception

How many bartenders should I have?
You'll need one for every 30 to 40 guests. For a 150-person party, set up a main bar and one satellite bar. Add another for every 50 additional guests.

See More: Every Type of Bar You Can Offer at Your Reception

No matter what kind of bar you choose (and how long you have it up and running) just make sure it's well stocked and won't come up dry — A.K.A., don't run out of wine. Estimate just under one bottle per person to cover the entire reception. So, if you're inviting 150 adults, you'll have 12 cases (12 bottles per case). Order five of white and seven of red — unless it's hot outside. Then you'll want six of each on hand. If you're serving only wine and beer, add an additional case of both red and white. And if you're planning a champagne toast, budget for 10 to 15 bottles of bubbly for 150 guests.

For more great food and drink advice, be sure to check out our April/May issue, available on newsstands and for download now!

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