Back to top

Stock the Bar Essentials: Planning the Beverages for Your Wedding Reception

Sponsored by BevMo!

All great parties have three things in common: great people, great food and an amazing bar. Here are some tips and tricks we’ve picked up along the way to make your reception stand out from the rest.

Wine Tips

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

A case of wine equals 60 servings (5oz).

The average guest consumes two drinks in the first hour, then one drink each additional hour. (Example: a 3-hour reception for 150 guests = 10 cases of wine.)

The most popular varietal to serve is Chardonnay and Pinot Noir because they are very food friendly! Tell a story with the wine: Select wine from the region where you met, or your favorite place, or your honeymoon destination!

Serve a sweeter bubbly to complement the sweetness of the cake. Look for extra dry or dry on the label.

Place opened wine bottles on the tables in the dining area so guests can help themselves. Attach a sweet note for your guests.

If you want something fun and inexpensive, set up a no-host Champagne bar with a variety of bubbles, juices, fresh fruit and liqueurs. It’s perfect any time of year, and guests can help themselves.


Photo: Linda Kahle Studio

Cocktail Tips

Be creative! Serve two signature cocktails instead of an open bar. This keeps costs down and makes it really personal. You could serve a whiskey cocktail and a vodka cocktail side-by-side and let guests help themselves.

Come up with creative names for your cocktails. Our favorite cocktails are First Kiss, Happily Ever After and Blushing Bride. (Click for the recipes!)

Color-coordinate your signature cocktail to match the color palate of the wedding. Think of all the possibilities: mango, lavender, chartreuse, raspberry and more.

Love martinis? Set up a martini bar with bottles of vodka, gin, vermouth olives and martini glasses.

A coffee bar with an assortment of liqueurs is a nice way to end the evening.

Bartenders are the best. Hire a professional to manage the bar so your friends and family will enjoy the party.


Photo: Katie Parra Photography


Stock a supply of craft beer to pair with the menu. Purchase bottles or kegs to please all the beer lovers at your party.

A 15.5 Gallon keg equals 164 servings (12oz glass)

Non-Alcoholic Products

Don’t forget to set up non-alcoholic beverages! Go beyond the traditional sodas and try a selection of old time soda, sparkling ciders and waters.

Grab a root beer keg for the kids!

Martinelli’s cider is festive for all ages, and any occasion.


Photo: Laurel McConnell Photography

Money Saving Ideas

Budget: If allowed, bring your own wine to your venue. You may save money even if you have to pay a corkage fee. 

Wine: Shop the 5c Wine Sale for your wine (buy one wine at regular price, get the second bottle for just 5 cents.) We have a selection of 50 wines on the sale every day. 

Cocktails: Serve signature cocktails instead of an open bar! A bottle of vodka (1.75L) makes 39 drinks. It’s very economical, simple, and fun to do it this way!

Beer: Get a great keg of beer for your guests. Dress up the tub with toile and you’ll be set. The average 15.5 gallon keg = 164 servings. (Example: A 15.5 gallon keg of Sam Adams is $174 = $1.06 per serving.)

Need help setting a budget? Play around with our drink calculator. Just fill in how many people, the length of the party, and the types of drinks you want to serve. The calculator will then give you an example of how much you need.


bevmo is a specialty beverage retailer on the west coast. You’ll find BevMo stores located throughout California, Arizona, Washington and on-line. Their philosophy is simple, “shopping for beverages should be as much fun as drinking them!”