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How much wine should I buy for my wedding?

I’ve advised many couples on what wines to pick for their big day. In order to pick the perfect wine, we talk about the venue, the food that will be served, the type of guests expected (lots of winos or all teetotalers?), and the budget. One of the first questions couples ask me is “how much wine do we really need to buy?”. The answer, of course, is different for every wedding but there are some general guidelines that you might find helpful:

1) Venue: The first thing to check is whether or not the venue will even allow you to bring in your own wine. Some venues require that you select wines off their pre-existing list. Other venues will allow you to bring in your own wine but will most likely charge a corkage fee per bottle. Watch out for this corkage fee! It can get pretty high (~$20/bottle in bigger cities). You will have to factor this corkage fee into your budget.

Assuming your venue allows you to bring in wine (and the corkage fee is doable with your budget), you’ll want to pick a sparkling wine, a white and a red. Let’s start with the sparkling…

2) Champagne/Sparkling: Sparkling wine (Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, etc.) is mainly used for toasting the happy couple. I usually recommend 2 glasses of sparkling wine per guest. There are 6 full glasses of sparkling wine in a standard 750ml bottle. You get more glasses per bottle out of sparkling wine because of the bubbles and the shape of the champagne flute. So here is an example calculation:

  • 100 guests x 2 glasses each = 200 glasses
  • 200 glasses / 6 glasses per bottle = ~34 bottles
  • 12 bottles = 1 case –> so if you are buying by the case for a discount, I’d recommend 3 cases of sparkling wine (36 bottles)

There are all sorts of tips for saving money on champagne costs, which I’ll tell you about in another post!

3) White and Red Wine: Will your wedding be outside in the summer? Will it be during the day? People tend to drink more white wine in these situations. Or will your wedding be inside at night? Will you be serving steak at dinner? If so, more red wine will be downed. For generalization, let’s assume that people will consume the same amount of white and red wine, which is often a safe bet. I’m also assuming you’ll be offering some beer but no liquor. Consider your unique wedding situation to alter the counts below if necessary.

Assume 1 glass of wine per hour per guest. Each 750ml bottle has ~5 glasses
So for 100 guests and a 4 hour wedding reception, the calculation would be:

  • 100 guests x 4 hours x 1 glass/hour = 400 glasses
  • 400 glasses / 5 glasses per bottle = 80 bottles of wine
  • 80/2 = 40 bottles of white and 40 bottles of red

Now that you know how much wine you need to buy, the next step is to select which wines to buy…one of my favorite activities! I’ll give you tips for finding the perfect wedding wines in the coming weeks.

Cheers,
Wino Woman

8 Responses to “How much wine should I buy for my wedding?”

  1. Saba

    Hi, thanks for this article, really informative, i’m getting married in Feb in Santa Monica, CA so which type of Wine do you suggest i should consider buying? We are having afternoon wedding…thank you

    • WinoWoman

      Hi Saba – congrats on getting married! That is very exciting. What type of venue will your wedding be at? What kind of food will you be serving? Your answers will help me pick some great wines for you.

  2. Maria

    Hello! I’m having a dinner-only wedding reception in December in south florida; we will serve traditional wedding food. The venue is a nature center with a garden ceremony and assembly hall reception. We plan on having about 85 guests, and the reception will start at 6. since the only drinks we’re serving are wine and soft drinks/punch, how much wine should we plan to buy? Thank you! :)

    • WinoWoman

      Hi Maria – sounds like your wedding will be lovely! If you won’t be serving beer, I would buy 20% more still wine to compensate. So for 85 guests, I’d recommend ~7 cases (84 bottles) of still wine total, half red and half white. If that seems like a lot, remember that having more alcohol on hand is ALWAYS better than running out! You can always take any leftovers home to enjoy later.

      In terms of champagne, however, without a cocktail hour you can cut down on the number of bottles. You can get away with buying 1.5 cases of champagne (18 bottles) and instructing the wait staff to fill the toast glasses only 1/2 full. Good luck with the final planning stages!

  3. Sarah Young

    Hello,
    Curious if my wedding has roughly 200 guests how much wine should i buy when i also to have cash bar available? There is a full dinner, lots of kids, huge cake and the bridal party is showing up when the reception starts so no wait time before we arrive to begin.
    I want to buy one case of white to get started and let them buy the rest…. Is this okay?

    • WinoWoman

      Of course that’s ok! As long as the cash bar will be fully stocked with enough red and white wine for 200 guests (see my recommended calculations above), then buy as much wine yourself as you want. Congrats on your upcoming wedding! It really will be the happiest day of your life :)

  4. WinoWoman

    Hi Harold – congrats on the engagement! If you’ll be having a full bar and not just serving wine and beer, I suggest you check out the Real Simple drinks calculator here: http://bit.ly/IDcCrX

    The methodology is sound and the numbers work for any type of party.
    Hope that helps!

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