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You want for you and your guests to have as good a time as possible at your wedding, and you've determined that that includes serving alcohol. So how much do you need to plan on having on hand in order to ensure that a good time is had by all?
The first consideration is money. How much can you afford to spend on alcohol for your guests? And what kinds of alcohol will you serve? You certainly don't want to run out of alcohol, or you may be sending your best man for a beer run. And depending the time of night that he would be looking for alcohol, he may not find a place that would still sell him what he's looking for. So you want to be sure to have enough on hand, but you don't want to have so much that you'll be housing bottles upon bottles of alcohol for months and years to come after the wedding.
There are certain guidelines you can follow to make sure you'll buy enough alcohol--but not too much–for your party. A typical adult guest will have between four and five drinks throughout the night. If you buy a fifth of liquor, you'll get about 25 drinks, unless, of course, you're making each drink a little stronger than normal. But a typical drink calls for one ounce of alcohol. A case of liquor has 12 bottles. So if you use one-ounce of alcohol per drink and you buy a case, you'll get about 300 drinks per case.
When it comes to wine, consider that if some people in your group are die-hard wine drinkers, plan on each of those people to drink the equivalent of one full bottle.
And for your beer drinkers, if you get a keg, you'll have about 520 eight-ounce glasses. One rule to note here is that 14 cases of beer is the same as a keg. Keep in mind, also, that you can buy just half a keg, if your group will be smaller.
Many liquor stores will actually buy back your unused, unopened alcohol. But you'll want to be sure to check with them ahead of time before you buy too much and are not able to return it.