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Wedding Reception Drinks: What To Serve

Updated on August 24, 2017

What To Serve At Your Wedding

At the reception for my sister's backyard wedding, we served beer, wine, soda, and water as our drinks of choice. In addition, of course, to a champagne (or, I should say, sparkling wine) toast right after the ceremony.

If you're having your wedding catered, and the catering includes an open bar, you won't have to worry about the drinks. Otherwise, you can follow these tips to make sure that your guests stay refreshed throughout the day, and that there are plenty of great options to choose from.

One thing that's hard to figure out is how much of each type of drink to get. Here's a handy party drink calculator on the Perfect Party Planning site that will give you a good estimate. I always like to err on the side of having too much; after all, drinks take a long time to go bad!

Water Bottle
Water Bottle

Soda, Seltzer, Water

And Other Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Make sure that you have plenty of drinks to keep your guests happy, and that you provide a good variety. For example, even if you don't personally drink diet sodas or sodas of a certain flavor, it's probably a good idea to get some for the guests that wish to indulge. I suggest getting cans instead of bottles, so they're easier to grab, and you don't need to worry about cups. If you want to add some pizzazz to your wedding sodas, check out the 500 different soda varieties at Galco's Soda Pop Stop online.

And don't forget to have plenty of water. Plastic water bottles are great if your guests are going to be moving around the reception area, and want to bring drinks with them; you can also provide pitchers of water and cups on individual reception tables.

Flavored seltzer is a fun, festive, and healthy choice that you might want to consider. I'm a big fan of the La Croix brand offered by some stores, such as Walmart, Kroger, and Safeway.

You can also make a punch to serve, out of juices (such as cranberry), fruit, and sparkling water.

Image source: Flickr.

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Sparkling Wine for the Wedding Toast
Sparkling Wine for the Wedding Toast

The Champagne Toast

Or Sparkling Wine, If You Prefer

It's traditional to have a toast at some point during a wedding, either directly after the ceremony, or during the reception.

Although people often think of this as a "champagne toast," the truth is that Champagne is a very specific (and very expensive!) type of sparkling wine. If you're watching your budget, I suggest finding a good sparkling wine to serve during the toast. Most of your guests won't know the difference.

Image source: Flickr.

Drink Glasses: Glass - Attractive but Fragile

Glasses made of glass help contribute a certain look to your wedding reception.

For a Fall Wedding, Why Not Try a Pumpkin Cooler? - A Fun Way To Infuse the Season

Pumpkin Cooler
Pumpkin Cooler


Variety Is Good

When it comes to beer, many people have very specific tastes. Unlike with wine, where often the choice is simply "red" or "white," with beer you need to decided between light and dark, lager, ale, and porter, and on various levels of malt and hop flavors, among other things.

First off, use a drink calculator to figure out how much beer you'll need. I would suggest starting off with an inexpensive beer that tends to be a crowd-pleaser, such as Budweiser, Coors Light, or Miller Lite. For more variety, you can add something light in taste like Corona, Becks, or Stella Artois, and something dark like Guinness. A nice ale like Sam Adams is a good choice, too.

And don't forget to add something that the bride and groom would like to drink, if they drink beer.


As Refined As You Like

Many people like to drink wine for special occasions such as weddings.

Wine is a good choice of drink because you don't need to make a lot of choices; you should be fine with a Merlot, a Cabernet, and a white wine of some type (the bride, especially might want to drink white to protect her dress!) You can also find good deals by buying wine by the case.

For my sister's wedding, we stuck with Rex Goliath for all of wines. I'm no wine connoisseur, but the wine seemed to be appreciated by everyone at the reception. We used about ten bottles for 30 guests. You can use the above-mentioned drinks calculator to get an idea of how many bottles you'll need.

Drink Glasses: Plastic - Functional and Inexpensive

We served the champagne from plastic champagne flutes so that we wouldn't have to buy a bunch of glasses that would never get used again.

You can also check out Divine Disposables to find some great options for attractive, disposable dishes for your wedding.

Wedding Cocktails - Signature Drinks

Wedding Drinks
Wedding Drinks

We decided it would be too much of a hassle to serve any sort of cocktails at my sister's wedding, so we just served beer and wine.

However, many couples decide to have a "signature cocktail" at their receptions. Having to make one drink is much simpler than making a whole bar full of them.

If you do choose to serve cocktails, however, you will probably need at least one person on permanent bar duty.

Image source: Fotopedia.

For Cocktails, Get a Book - Find Your Signature Drink

The Little Black Book of Cocktails: The Essential Guide to New & Old Classics (Little Black Books (Peter Pauper Hardcover))
The Little Black Book of Cocktails: The Essential Guide to New & Old Classics (Little Black Books (Peter Pauper Hardcover))

A cocktail book is fun to have regardless of whether you're getting married or not. It can also make a great bridal shower gift. The prospective bride and groom can look through a recipe book like this to decide whether they want to add a "signature drink" to their list of wedding drinks.


At Weddings, Do You Prefer Open Bar or DIY? - Share Your Opinion Here

Should weddings have open bars or DIY cans and bottles?

Tools For Making Wedding Cocktails - A Great Couple's Gift

OXO SteeL 11-Piece Barware Set
OXO SteeL 11-Piece Barware Set

If you're giving this as a gift, make sure to give it early so the bride and groom can make use of it during the ceremony! Oxo is notorious for their well-made products, and this bar set is no exception.


Did you have great successes or failures? Let us know! Or just say hi :)

Thoughts on Wedding Reception Drinks? - Share Them Here!

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