Wedding season is in full swing and some of you may be planning your big day.

If you are not planning a wedding, you may be prepping for your own special occasion, like a graduation party or charity event. While it is easy to estimate how much food each guest will consume, it’s trickier trying to plan how much wine. Additionally, if your event is being catered by the venue or an outside party, their wine selection may not meet your taste and you may be thinking of bringing in your own drinks. We will explore how much wine to buy for larger celebrations, ideas for serving, and the glasses.

Before you invest in drinks, check with your venue to verify their policies and licenses. There may also be a corkage fee for providing your own liquor. Next, research the laws in your state to see if you are allowed to have an open bar where guests may serve themselves (some states have restrictions on this). Once you have the necessary approval and information, you can begin the planning process.

Buying Wine

• Red/White Wine: It is safe to assume that each guest will drink approximately 1 glass of wine per hour. For example: each 750ml bottle has 5 glasses. For 150 guests at a 4-hour reception, you will need 600 glasses of wine or 120 bottles which can be divided equally into 60 white and 60 red. If it is an outdoor reception, you may consider serving more white than red wine.

• Sparkling Wine: As your guests prepare for toasts from the wedding party, serve them sparkling wine. You will need approximately 2 glasses of sparkling wine per guest. For 100 guests you will require 200 glasses (2 per guest) which is approximately 34 bottles.

• If your wedding is during the daytime, people will generally drink less. If it is at night, round up the number of bottles you plan to purchase.

• Consider the preferences of your guests; if most of your family loves beer, buy less wine and more beer.

• If possible, see if you are able to mix the type of wine in each case.

• Shop at your local warehouse store such as Costco/Sam’s Club to find the most affordable wine for your big day. You can also bargain hunt and compare prices with wine shops and supermarkets. Wherever you shop, check their return policy to see if you may return unopened bottles after your event and receive a refund.

• You may also try a digital retailer. Many venues will accept a wine shipment, which also saves you the headache of figuring out the logistics of a wine delivery.

• There is an online wedding wine calculator you may use to calculate how much to buy of liquor, beer, and wine if you plan to serve more than just wine.

• One alternative is to buy wine in larger formats such as kegs, magnums, and boxes.

• If you decide to also serve a simple signature cocktail and beer, it is safe to reduce your wine purchase by 25%.

• Consider liability insurance for your event just in case something goes wrong and damages are incurred.

Service

There are a number of options to consider when it comes to serving drinks. If the event is a wedding, you may want an open bar so guests can drink at their leisure, plus a champagne toast when the wedding party delivers their speeches. For a more formal event such as a charity gala, it is appropriate to have catering staff circling the dining room and pouring drinks. More relaxed events, you may want to simply place a decanter of wine at each table. Some catering services offer their own wine steward who can ensure your wine is always served at the proper temperature and can help to keep guests’ glasses filled.

Glassware

Next, you will want to pick the right glassware for your event. If your guests will primarily be sitting down, stemless glassware would be appropriate since they will be placing their glasses on the table. For events where guests will have cocktail hour and then a sit-down meal, stemmed glassware would be best so guests do not warm their drink with their hands. For more formal events with catering, have a glass specific to each varietal. If you buy cheaper champagne, serve it in a tulip shaped glass so that the flavor is not loss.

Do you have any advice about serving wine at your wedding or large event? Share your tips below.