Tips For Serving Alcohol At Your Wedding

All great parties have four things in common: great people, great food, great music and an amazing bar. Let us be honest, we have been to a wedding or two that lacked one or two of these things, but also, we have been to ones that had an excellent blend of the four, capturing the essence of the couple so well.

Weddings are a celebration, an initiation to a new journey in life, and many couples like celebrating this milestone with family and friends. However, the planning can take a toll on the couple, but it is usually worth it when the big day turns out as perfectly as it had been planned, or even better.

One of the toughest parts of wedding planning is determining how much alcohol you need for all of your guests. Figuring out how much food, cake, and dessert you need is easy – you can basically allocate one serving per guest. But with alcohol, it gets quite difficult to gauge how much a person is going to drink. Some guests won’t drink at all, some will only drink beer, some will only take wine, some will sample every drink available, and then some guests will drown more than their fair share.

So what do you look for if you are looking to serve drinks on your wedding day?

what type of bar to set up for a wedding reception 

Open Bar

This is the most friendly way to serve drinks at your wedding, though the most expensive. No guest would like to pay for their drinks at a wedding, and this is the best approach to use. The guests get to order any drinks they want, you get to pay the cumulative bill later. This applies if the reception venue serves drinks. You can also buy the drinks yourself from a distributor and do a bar set up.

There is a downside to this plan though, people get to overindulge when free drinks are served. Know anyone in particular in your guest list who tends to drink a little too much, notify the bartenders beforehand to keep an eye on them.

Plan one bartender per 35 to 45 guests to avoid crowding at the bar for drinks.

Limited Bar

Here, you offer an assorted type of drinks for a specific consumption time, like toasts, during dinner, dancing, or maybe cocktail hour. It would be better if you hired waiters to pass the drinks around than have them go up to the bar. It is better to circulate wine, sparkling wine, non-alcoholic drinks, cocktails, and water for this plan.

Cash Bar

If you are short on cash and your guests would like to have a drink here and there during the wedding reception, then you could consider a cash bar.For this plan, the guests pay for their own drinks at the bar. 

As you must have guessed, this set up is not very popular and would not go well with the guests, so give them a headstart on what to expect.

Dry Wedding

A dry wedding is one that serves non-alcoholic beverages. This plan goes well if the bride and groom are non-drinkers or/and most of their guests do not drink as well. It serves non-alcoholic wine (chamdor), soft drinks, soda, sparkling or flavored water, and mocktails (non-alcoholic cocktails)

After you have chosen the plan to go with at your wedding, the next step is to know what to serve your guests.

What type of alcohol to serve at the wedding


When you think of champagne, you cannot help but think of celebration. This is why champagne is an essential part of many weddings, whether it is for a toast or cocktail hour.

If the idea is to spend as little money as possible on drinks, then for the toast or cake-cutting, set aside one special bottle for the bride and groom; Veuve Clicquot, Dom Perignon, Moet & Chandon are vastly recommended. For the guests, go with Prosecco or André Sparkling wine.


Beer, unlike other types of alcohol, is widely available in different packaging options. Cases of beer can come in bottles or cans. Cans are widely recommended because they are recyclable.

Choosing the right kinds of beer for your wedding is a personal choice that you and your partner should make based on your tastes and most of your guest’s tastes. Keep the timing and season of your wedding in mind when choosing beers; hot seasons call for light beers whilst a cold season calls for heavy, dark beers.


When planning the wine for your wedding we recommend keeping it as simple as selecting one red, one white, and a sparkling varietal. You may think you need different varietals to meet all your guests’ needs, but you really don’t! The best thing to do is buy wine that fits with your menu. Your guests will appreciate the excellent wine and food pairing.

For white wine, try Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling. For reds, go with MoscatoMalbecs,Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, and Pinotage.


You can decide to serve cocktails in between the ceremony and dinner, popularly referred to as cocktail hour. This is the period when guests are gonna grab some drinks, and some bites as you get into party mode.

It is preferable to serve one or two signature cocktails instead of an open bar. This keeps the cost down and makes the drinks really personal and memorable. You could serve a whisky cocktail and a vodka cocktail side-by-side and let your guests decide which of the two they would like.

You may give the signature drinks creative drinks like Kiss Me, Blushing Bride. Also, you can color-coordinate your cocktails to match the color palette of the wedding.

Non- alcoholic

Don’t forget to set up non-alcoholic beverages for those who do not take alcoholic drinks or would like to skip the drinking because of one reason or another. Go beyond the traditional sodas and try a selection of non-alcoholic wine, non-alcoholic beer, sparkling ciders and waters.

How to calculate alcohol for the wedding

As a general rule of thumb, guests will drink one glass per hour of the party, with the assumption that some will drink more and some will drink less. You know your crowd the best, and some events may require more. 

Let’s say you’re hosting a 5-hour event, and 100 people on the list. 100 people x 5 hours = 500 drinks total.

If you plan to serve only beer and wine, follow this ratio: 20 percent beer, 80 percent wine. That means you’ll need 400 glasses of wine and 100 glasses of beer. Typically, one glass of beer (mug) is one bottle and one bottle of wine has five glasses (150ml glass). So you would need to order seventeen 6-packs of beer (100 / 6 = 16.666, round up to 17) and 80 bottles of wine (80/6 roughly 14 boxes).

Again, depending on the event split those boxes evenly between red and white (or red, white, and Champagne). If it’s a cold season, more people will drink red and dark beer. If it’s a hot season or a hot day, more people will drink white, Champagne, and light beer. Consider your season and order accordingly.

We offer consultation services for what drinks to choose for what occasion, season or event. We have knowledgeable staff with vast experience on liquor and pairings.


We at Jays Wines are here to meet your needs and make that important day even more memorable. We have an in-house capacity to fulfill your orders, both large and small. We own vans and delivery bikes that deliver products to various locations in Nairobi. The vehicles help us deliver to our customers on time. We are open daily from 10.00 am to 8.00 pm Monday to Thursday; 10.00 am to 8.00 pm on Friday and 10.00 am to 7.00 pm on Saturday. Would you like to pay us a visit for a chat? Find us at Watersys Plaza, Biashara Street, Nairobi Kenya. Our head office is located on the second floor. Or, give us a call at 0705570066. 

Jays Wines is a renowned Liquor vending brand in Nairobi. We are a reputable merchant in distribution, wholesale & retail of Fine Wines, Premium Spirits, commercial & Craft beers. Did you know that “we’re also one of Nairobi’s largest online liquor stores?” Indeed we are. Knowledgeable staff, top-notch customer management & competitive pricing are the hallmarks of what makes us unique. Besides, we believe that to share some cheer with one another is a communion, a true gift & one of life’s great pleasures!

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By Roseline Maina: Digital Marketer


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