Planning a wedding can be fun, exciting, time-consuming and nerve-wracking all at the same time. With various factors to consider, it can be easy to overlook crucial things on the wedding checklist.
While choosing alcohol to serve for the reception or cocktail hour is an important part of planning, sometimes it gets pushed to the bottom of the list. However, your alcohol selections are important and should be a high priority. Selecting the perfect wines can help set the overall tone and mood for your special day, and certain varieties tend to pair nicely with different foods and seasons.
Diving Into Drink Planning
Whether you’re having a smaller ceremony or a lavish extravaganza, buying wine for a wedding can be overwhelming. Thankfully, there are many ways to approach drink planning that can help you purchase the ideal varieties and amounts. Accounting for factors such as your venue, type of bar service, liquor laws, guest count, budget and menu can help you figure out the alcohol specifics for your special day.
To get a better idea of how much alcohol to purchase as well as what types, keep reading this complete wedding wine buying guide for plenty of useful tips and information!
So, How Much Wine Do You Really Need for a Wedding?
When planning a wedding, it’s important to accommodate your expected number of guests in every way possible, whether it’s ordering plenty of food for everyone, ensuring the venue has ample seating or making lodging arrangements for out-of-towners. Another important factor to consider is supplying enough alcohol for those who wish to drink, as well as making sure your budget can fully cover this expense.
So, how much wine should you buy for a wedding? Ultimately, the amount of wine — and all alcoholic beverages for that matter — you purchase should be determined by your expected guest count. A general ratio for serving alcohol at a wedding reception is one-third wine, one-third beer and one-third liquor.
So, for a reception with roughly 100 guests, you should likely plan for around 30-40 glasses of wine each hour. Because one bottle of wine serves about four glasses, you’ll likely need about 8-10 bottles per hour.
If you need further assistance in determining how much wine you’ll need for your wedding, you can even use a wedding drink calculator to help provide you with an accurate estimate.
What Types of Wine Should You Include in Your Wedding Drink List?
When serving wine at your wedding reception, it’s important to include a variety of options to accommodate the tastes and preferences of multiple guests. If you’re not quite sure how to approach your wine order, consider the general classifications of wine — red, white, sparkling and rosé. These basic wine categories are comprised of different profiles and grape varieties. Let’s look at some examples below:
Here are some popular types of red wine you may consider serving at your wedding reception:
- Pinot Noir
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Syrah or Shiraz
Next, here are some white wine varieties commonly served at wedding receptions:
- Pinot Grigio
- Sauvignon Blanc
Here are some popular types of rosé wines for weddings:
- Pinot Noir Rosé
- Tempranillo Rosé
- Syrah Rosé
- Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé
Finally, here are some common types of sparkling wines you might consider serving at your wedding:
What Alcohol Should I Supply for My Wedding?
While there are multiple categories and varieties of wine to choose from, this doesn’t mean you’re required to supply a massive selection of each type at your wedding. You can simply use these classifications to help you decide which kinds of wine you’d like to serve at your reception. Sampling a variety of wines before your big day is also a good way to determine which types you’d like to serve as well as which ones will pair nicely with the foods on your menu.
There’s no right or wrong answer when choosing which types of wine you should supply at your wedding. Try picking one or two variations from each general category — this way, you can accommodate the different taste preferences of your guests. You might consider serving red and white wines at the bar while saving a sparkling wine, such as champagne, for the wedding toast.
How Much Champagne Should Be Bought for a Toast?
Purchasing champagne or another sparkling wine for a wedding toast is slightly different than buying regular drinking alcohol for the bar. Though the toast is a special part of your wedding day, most of your guests likely won’t drink more than half a glass — therefore, you won’t need to buy as much champagne as you would other spirits.
You’ll likely only have to purchase enough champagne or bubbly to fill about a half or third of each glass. A helpful ratio to follow is one bottle of champagne for every 10 guests.
As another option, you can use the following champagne bottle calculation formula to help you determine an accurate estimate:
- [Number of legal drinkers] / 6 servings per bottle = the total number of bottles to order
How the Time of Year Can Affect Your Wine and Champagne Choices
While it may seem unrelated, the particular season and month of the year can help you determine which types of wine and champagne to include at your wedding. In this section, we’ll look at some helpful seasonal wine pairing tips that might help influence your wedding alcohol choices.
1. Spring Wedding Wines
With vivid blooms appearing, birds chirping and temperatures starting to warm up, a spring wedding ceremony can be an absolute dream. Ring in this new season by selecting some light, pleasant wines to pair wonderfully with your special day. Here are some delicious wines you might consider that are ideal for the springtime season:
- Pinot Noir: With its smooth finish and hints of cherry, clove and raspberry, Pinot Noir can be an elegant wine option for spring.
- Spanish Rosado: While Spanish Rosados have a light and springy taste, they also add notes of pepper to the mix for a more enhancing flavor.
- Sauvignon Blanc: Sauvignon Blanc is an excellent wine option to ring in the crisp spring season, especially for those who favor dry wines.
- Grüner Veltliner: A lean wine that also offers hints of pepper, Grüner Veltliner pairs wonderfully with spring wedding dishes.
2. Summer Wedding Wines
It’s no surprise that summer is a wildly popular time for couples to get married. With warm temperatures, sunshine and more hours of daylight, a summer wedding is a perfect opportunity to have an outdoor ceremony, reception or cocktail hour. If you and your fiance are planning a wedding during this season, you might consider selecting light, refreshing wines and champagnes to complement a cheerful, warm or outdoor vibe.
Here are some lovely wines to enjoy at a summertime wedding:
- Rieslings: With high acidity and the ideal amount of residual sugar to provide a cool, crisp taste, German Riesling is a refreshing beverage for the hot summer season.
- Pinot Grigio: Pinot Grigio is an excellent wine option for this season, as it offers a medium-body yet acidic balance for a perfect summer beverage.
- Viognier: Viognier creates the perfect blend of medium-light taste and lively fruit flavors for a delicious summer wine.
3. Fall Wedding Wines
Fall is an ideal season to have a wedding — it provides stunning colorful backdrops for professional photos as well as crisp and pleasant temperatures. If you’re planning to get married during the fall season, we’ve got some tasty seasonal wine recommendations in store for you. These selections are rich in flavor — perfect to celebrate both autumn and your wedding day.
Here are some pleasant autumn wines you might consider:
- Merlot: With the perfect concoction of cherry, tannins and warm flavors to accompany the autumn season, Merlot is always a classic fall wedding option.
- Grenache: Grenaches offer hints of dried strawberries, clove, raspberry and herbs to capture the essence of autumn.
- Sémillon: A full-bodied white French Sémillon for your wedding offers a lush, elegant taste to ring in the fall season.
4. Winter Wedding Wines
Planning a winter wedding? Consider these flavorful wine choices to pair beautifully with a charming snow-covered backdrop and chilly temperatures. Because winter foods tend to be heavier and heartier — such as meats and soups — it’s important to select more rich, full-bodied wines to accompany your menu.
Here are some recommended wedding wines for the winter season:
- Chardonnay: With a buttery and rich flavor, Chardonnay is a perfect wintertime wedding option. It offers hints of caramel and vanilla that pair wonderfully with the cold season, complementing a variety of winter dishes as well. Consider pairing it with creamy pasta, corn chowder or baked fish.
- Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon offers dark fruity flavors, rich tannins and hints of cinnamon that pair wonderfully with the snowy season. Enjoy it with winter dishes such as portobello mushrooms, soups or ribs.
- Shiraz: This smooth, bold and seasonal wine features dark fruity flavors and notes of black olive that pair perfectly with a winter wedding reception. Shiraz especially complements dishes that incorporate barbecue flavors, sauteed mushrooms and herb-roasted potatoes.
Saving Money on Your Wine and Champagne Choices
When planning a wedding, it’s always a good idea to use your budget wisely. Here are five helpful money-saving techniques when purchasing and supplying alcohol for your big day:
1. Keep Your Variety Simple
When choosing wines to serve at your wedding reception or cocktail hour, try not to overthink or complicate the process. Simply picking one red, one white and one sparkling wine will more than likely suffice. As long as you have at least some variety, your guests are bound to enjoy whichever wines you select. Remember that they’re there to celebrate you on your big day — not fuss over the wine choices. Keep it simple and try not to sweat it!
2. Limit Heavy Pours
You won’t want to risk running out of alcohol before the night is over. A good way to prevent this from happening is by making sure wine is properly distributed by the waitstaff and bartenders — in other words, keeping heavy pours to a minimum. Heavy pours may be acceptable at bars, but it’s important to be more fruitful with wine during weddings.
To ensure a pour that’s substantial without going overboard, it’s recommended that guests are poured about three ounces of wine at a time. This also allows the wine in their glasses to stay cool consistently. Additionally, you can request that the servers only refill guests’ glasses if they’re asked to do so.
3. Buy Bulk Wedding Wine
When browsing wine for your wedding, it’s advisable to buy this in bulk. This option can be significantly cheaper than purchasing by the bottle. When you purchase by the case, you can save anywhere from 10 to 25% on wine. Many merchants will offer discounts for cases, which can increase when you buy several at a time.
4. See if You Can Return Unopened Bottles
Many stores will allow you to return any unopened bottles of wine, beer or other liquor after your wedding. Before purchasing alcohol from a store, check to see if their policy will permit alcohol returns in case you end up with leftovers.
5. Choose Larger Bottles
When purchasing wedding wine, it’s recommended that you buy bigger bottles. You can find high-quality, inexpensive wines in larger bottles that hold twice the amount of regular-sized ones — this way, you can save money and get more bang for your buck.
How Much Should I Budget for Alcohol at My Wedding?
You can serve excellent wines at your wedding without having to spend a fortune. Typically, wine and champagne will account for about 15% of your overall reception budget. If your caterer will be providing the wine, this will likely be included in the bar bill — you can expect to pay about twice the retail price on every bottle of wine that’s served.
Is It Cheaper to Provide Your Own Alcohol for a Wedding?
When buying wine and champagne for your wedding, you normally have two main options — purchasing your own cases or ordering your alcohol through your caterer or venue.
It’s typically more affordable to provide your own alcohol for a couple of reasons. You can receive store discounts when buying your own in bulk, and caterers tend to mark up their prices — you’ll more than likely pay double the retail price for a bottle of wine through your caterer.
If your catering service charges a corkage fee to bring your own wine, compare their wine prices to that of your own plus this fee. If you find a good deal from a retailer, supplying your own could still be the cheaper option despite this additional charge. Depending on the caterer, you may even be able to negotiate a lower corkage fee.
Additionally, you aren’t limited to the caterer’s alcohol choices when supplying your own. You have full control over varieties and brands, which gives you more freedom when selecting alcohol for your wedding.
However, certain caterers and venues may not allow you to purchase and supply your own alcohol. Before your wedding, check with both your caterer and venue to make sure their policies will permit you to do so.
Additional Factors to Consider
Here are some other factors that can play into purchasing and supplying alcohol for your wedding reception:
Type of Bar Service
Consider the type of bar service when planning alcohol for your wedding. Many couples choose to have an open bar that allows guests unlimited access to wine, beer and liquor. Since this can be pricey when supplying your own alcohol, other couples choose to have a limited bar selection instead.
A cash bar is another type of wedding bar service. However, this requires guests to purchase their own drinks, which isn’t considered the most polite or ideal option. It’s perfectly fine if you can’t afford full bar service — you can opt for a limited selection instead.
Single-Serve Wine Bottles
As mentioned earlier, you’ll likely only need small amounts of champagne, bubbly or sparkling wine for the toast — this is where purchasing single-serve wine bottles can come in handy. While buying reds and whites for the bar in bulk can be a good money saver, purchasing bubbly by the bottle can help ensure you don’t have excessive leftover bottles after the wedding. This is ideal if you’re planning to have a smaller ceremony.
Mixers and Garnishes
If you and your partner decide to supply your own liquor for the bar, you’ll likely need to factor in mixers such as sodas, juices and flavorings if you plan to offer cocktail options. Additionally, you might consider garnishes such as olives, lemons, cherries, cucumbers or mint. Make sure there’s plenty of ice for the bar as well.
Alcohol storage temperature is a critical factor to consider in advance when making wine arrangements for your wedding. Generally speaking, all of your wines should be kept cold, especially if you’re having a summer wedding. Whites, sparkling wines and even reds should be served on ice to stay chilled throughout the reception. This way, the alcohol maintains a pleasant and refreshing taste for you and your guests. Even chilling them in the refrigerator for half an hour before the reception can make a notable difference.
However, winter wines — excluding champagne — can be served at room temperature to help bring out the distinctive flavors and aromas of the wine. This is also more acceptable when outdoor temperatures are colder. Ultimately, you should determine alcohol serving temperatures based on the specific wine and season. Your caterer, bartender or waitstaff will likely have more expertise on this matter and can properly serve alcohol to maintain ideal taste and temperature.
Your menu can help you determine specific wines and champagne to purchase for your wedding, as some varieties pair nicely with certain foods over others. Here are some helpful wine and food pairing tips:
- Chicken: You may want to opt for a medium to light-bodied red or white wine — heavier wines can overpower the soft flavor of chicken. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are good white options, while Pinot Noir or Zinfandel are good reds.
- Beef: Try a medium-to-bold red wine that complements rich beef flavors, such as a strong Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, red Bordeaux or Zinfandel.
- Fish: Lighter whites and Greek wines tend to pair nicely with seafood — you might consider a Sauvingon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. Sparkling wines such as Cava and Prosecco can also complement fish.
- Vegetables: Dry, light whites or reds can accompany roasted vegetables. Consider serving a Pinot Noir, Grenache or similar wine.
- Pork: A bolder white selection, such as white Burgundy, rounds out pork wonderfully.
It’s important to research local and state liquor regulations when making alcohol arrangements. Liquor laws can vary by state — certain locations may prohibit BYOB policies, while others may allow it given the venue has a proper liquor license.
You may also want to look into liability insurance options for your wedding to protect yourself and your guests. In fact, certain vendors may require this if you’re supplying your own alcohol.
Find Your Wedding Wines at Marketview Liquor
For quality, affordable wine to purchase for your wedding, Marketview Liquor is your solution. With a variety of reds, whites, rosés and sparkling wines available in multiple brands, you’ll surely find the perfect wines to accompany your special day. You can also order by the case to receive a 10% discount on select labels.
If you need further assistance in planning alcohol and liquor for your big day, we also offer wedding and event planning services! Let us provide you with professional resources to help you plan your ideal wines and spirits.
Visit our site to order your wedding wine online today!