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Wedding Reception Drinks: Ideas for a Fun and Festive Celebration

If you're planning a wedding, one of the most important aspects to consider is the drinks you'll be serving at the reception. After all, what's a celebration without a little bit of bubbly or a signature cocktail? But with so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to decide what to serve. That's why we've put together a guide to help you choose the perfect drinks for your big day.

Whether you're going for a classic champagne toast or want to impress your guests with a unique cocktail, there are plenty of options to choose from. You can stick with traditional options like wine and beer, or get creative with a signature cocktail that reflects your personality as a couple. And don't forget about non-alcoholic options for guests who don't drink or want to take a break from alcohol. With a little bit of planning, you can create a drink menu that will keep your guests happy and make your reception unforgettable.

Choosing the Right Drinks

When it comes to choosing the right drinks for your wedding reception, there are a few things to consider. You'll want to make sure you have a variety of options that cater to all tastes and preferences. Here are some tips for choosing the right drinks for your wedding reception.

Seasonal Choices

Choosing seasonal drinks is a great way to add a touch of freshness and uniqueness to your wedding reception. For example, if you're having a summer wedding, consider serving refreshing drinks like mojitos or margaritas. In the fall, you could serve warm apple cider or pumpkin spice cocktails. Winter weddings are perfect for serving hot toddies or mulled wine. And in the spring, you could serve fruity and floral cocktails like a lavender lemonade or a strawberry basil spritzer.

Non-Alcoholic Options

It's important to offer non-alcoholic options for guests who don't drink or who prefer not to drink at a wedding reception. Consider serving mocktails like a virgin piรฑa colada or sparkling cranberry juice. You could also offer a variety of soft drinks, juices, and water. Don't forget to decorate non-alcoholic drinks with fresh fruit or herbs to make them look just as special as the alcoholic options.

Specialty Cocktails

Creating a signature cocktail or two for your wedding reception is a great way to add a personal touch. Work with your bartender to come up with a drink that reflects your personalities or wedding theme. You could even name the drink after yourselves or something meaningful to you both. Make sure to have the ingredients and recipe printed out so guests can recreate the drink at home if they want.

Remember, the key to choosing the right drinks for your wedding reception is to offer a variety of options that cater to all tastes and preferences. By incorporating seasonal choices, non-alcoholic options, and specialty cocktails, you'll be sure to have a bar that your guests will love.

Drink Presentation

When it comes to wedding reception drinks, the presentation is just as important as the taste. Here are some tips to make sure your drinks look as good as they taste.

Glassware Selection

The type of glassware you choose can make a big difference in the overall presentation of your drinks. Consider using unique glassware that matches your wedding theme or colors. For example, if you are having a beach wedding, consider using seashell-shaped glasses or glasses with blue ombre coloring to mimic the ocean.

Another option is to use vintage glassware. Not only does it add a touch of elegance to your drinks, but it also adds a unique element to your reception. You can find vintage glassware at thrift stores, antique shops, or even online.


Garnishing your drinks is a simple way to add a pop of color and flavor to your cocktails. Consider using fresh herbs, edible flowers, or fruit slices to garnish your drinks. You can also use colored sugar or salt to rim the glasses for an added touch of elegance.

Another fun option is to use custom drink stirrers or swizzle sticks. You can have them personalized with your names or wedding date for a unique touch.

Drink Stations

Setting up drink stations throughout your reception area can add to the overall presentation of your drinks. Consider having a signature drink station where guests can try your custom cocktail. You can also have a DIY station where guests can create their own drinks using a variety of mixers and garnishes.

Make sure to have plenty of ice, straws, and napkins available at each station to make it easy for guests to create their perfect drink.

By paying attention to the glassware selection, garnishing, and drink stations, you can create a beautiful and memorable display of wedding reception drinks.

Estimating Drink Quantities

When planning the drinks for a wedding reception, it's essential to estimate the amount of alcohol needed to keep your guests happy. Here are some factors to consider when calculating drink quantities:

Number of Guests

The number of guests is the most crucial factor to consider when estimating drink quantities. As a general rule, plan for at least one drink per person per hour. However, this number can vary depending on the length of the reception, the types of alcohol served, and the drinking habits of your guests.

Type of Alcohol

The type of alcohol you serve will also affect the amount needed. For example, wine and beer are generally consumed at a slower rate than spirits. If you're serving cocktails, keep in mind that they often contain more alcohol than a standard drink. Consider offering a signature cocktail in addition to beer and wine to add variety while keeping costs down.

Time of Day

The time of day can also influence how much alcohol your guests will consume. For example, if you're having a brunch reception, you may want to serve mimosas or Bloody Marys. If your reception is in the evening, your guests may prefer wine, beer, or cocktails.

Non-Alcoholic Options

Don't forget to provide non-alcoholic options for your guests. This can include soda, juice, water, and mocktails. Offering a variety of non-alcoholic options can also help keep your guests hydrated and prevent overconsumption of alcohol.


Estimating drink quantities for a wedding reception can be challenging, but taking into account the number of guests, type of alcohol, time of day, and non-alcoholic options can help ensure that everyone has a great time. Remember to plan for at least one drink per person per hour, and don't forget to offer non-alcoholic options.

Hiring Professional Bartenders

Hiring a professional bartender for your wedding reception can be a great choice, especially if you want to impress your guests with delicious drinks and a well-stocked bar. Here are some things to consider when hiring a bartender for your big day:

  • Experience matters: Look for a bartender who has experience working at weddings and other large events. They should be able to handle a high volume of drink orders while still maintaining a friendly and professional demeanor.
  • Customization options: Ask if the bartender can create custom cocktails or mocktails based on your preferences or theme. This can add a personal touch to your reception and make it more memorable for your guests.
  • Pricing: Be sure to get a clear understanding of the bartender's pricing structure. Some bartenders charge by the hour, while others charge a flat rate for their services. Make sure you understand what is included in the price, such as glassware, garnishes, and mixers.
  • Licenses and insurance: Check to see if the bartender has the necessary licenses and insurance to serve alcohol at your wedding reception. This can help protect you from liability in case of any accidents or injuries.
  • Equipment and setup: Ask the bartender if they will bring their own equipment, such as a portable bar or ice buckets. You should also discuss the setup process to ensure that everything is ready to go before your guests arrive.

Overall, hiring a professional bartender can be a great way to add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your wedding reception. Just be sure to do your research and choose a bartender who is experienced, reliable, and able to meet your specific needs and preferences.

Dealing with Leftovers

After the wedding reception, there may be leftover drinks that need to be dealt with. Here are some options for what to do with them.


If you have unopened bottles of alcohol, consider donating them to a local charity or shelter. Some organizations may be able to use them for fundraising events or other purposes. Contact your local food bank or homeless shelter to see if they accept donations of alcohol.


If you have opened bottles of alcohol that you want to keep, make sure to store them properly. Keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. You can also transfer the alcohol to smaller bottles to reduce the amount of air exposure and extend the shelf life.

Leftover mixers, such as soda or juice, can be stored in the fridge for later use. Just make sure to transfer them to a sealed container to prevent spills or contamination.

If you have leftover ice, you can use it for future events or store it in a cooler for later use. Just make sure to clean the cooler thoroughly before using it again.

In conclusion, there are several options for dealing with leftover wedding reception drinks. Consider donating unopened bottles to a local charity or shelter, and store opened bottles properly to extend their shelf life. Leftover mixers can be stored in the fridge, and ice can be used for future events or stored in a cooler.

Budgeting for Wedding Reception Drinks

When planning a wedding reception, it's important to consider the cost of drinks. The amount of alcohol you provide will depend on your budget, the number of guests, and the length of the reception. Here are some tips to help you budget for wedding reception drinks:

  • Determine your budget: Before you start planning, decide how much you can afford to spend on drinks. This will help you determine what types of drinks you can offer and how much of each.
  • Consider your guest list: The number of guests you invite will affect the amount of alcohol you need. As a general rule, plan for each guest to have two drinks in the first hour and one drink per hour after that. However, this can vary depending on the preferences of your guests.
  • Choose your drinks: Beer, wine, and liquor are the most common types of drinks served at wedding receptions. Consider offering a signature cocktail or mocktail to add a personal touch to your reception.
  • Calculate the amount of alcohol needed: Use an alcohol calculator to determine how much alcohol you need based on the number of guests, length of the reception, and types of drinks you plan to serve.
  • Shop around: Compare prices at different liquor stores and online retailers to find the best deals. Consider buying in bulk to save money.
  • Consider an open bar vs. cash bar: An open bar means that all drinks are free for guests, while a cash bar means that guests pay for their own drinks. An open bar can be more expensive, but it can also be a nice gesture for your guests. A cash bar can help you save money, but it may not be as popular with your guests.

By following these tips, you can budget for wedding reception drinks that fit your budget and your guests' preferences.

Krystal | Sunny Sweet Days
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