Allow three to four drinks for a buffet or dinner reception of about four hours in length. For an all evening reception of about five or six hours, count on four to six drinks per guest, not including wine with dinner. While some guests may drink less than the average person, others may consume more than average, so using these figures should allow for a balancing of the numbers.
It is always best to order MORE liquor than the amount you expect will be consumed at the reception, as running out of liquor is in poor form and reflects very badly on the host. In most jurisdictions, unopened liquor can be returned for full refund, so it is better to be safe than sorry. Just confirm the refund policy with your liquor vendor to be certain.
Here’s what you’ll need to do to determine the number of servings you’ll get out of a bottle of wine, champagne, or liquor, and to determine the number of bottles you’ll need:
To calculate the number of bottles required, you’ll need to take your best guess as to what your wedding guests are likely to prefer to drink. For example, will most likely prefer wine, beer, or hard liquor? Or do you predict an equal mix of wine drinkers, hard liquor drinkers, and beer drinkers? Now tune your estimates a little farther. As an example, you may know that more of your guests prefer red wine to white, or prefer rum to rye.
Now you will need to count:
A 26 oz. ( 750 ml.) bottle of wine produces 5 servings.
The average bottle of champagne produces 6 servings, when served in fluted glasses A 26 oz. (750 ml.) bottle of spirits yields seventeen 1 1/2 oz. (45 ml.) servings.
A 40 oz. (1.14 L) bottle of spirits yields 25 servings.
If serving wine with dinner, allow for two servings per guest.
Have on hand three bottles of mix for every bottle of spirits.
Once again, it is important to stress the importance of having a generous amount of liquor on hand for the reception as a gracious and hospitable host. Bump up your estimates to be safe! Unopened bottles can be returned! Cheers!