No two wedding ceremonies ought to be the same (hence, the existence of civil celebrants like me to advise and help create a unique personalised ceremony). Nor should receptions be the same – not for venue, food, entertainment or booze.
The drink side of things tends to be a bit of a worry to many people. I am not really going to focus on choice of wine/ beer etc., particularly as much may depend on budget and personal taste.
However, I do have a few suggestions, based on experience, that may prove helpful.
As a general guide, I’d say that you should work on a couple of glasses per person of sparkling wine/champagne as an aperitif.
Assuming there’s a sit-down reception, go for half a bottle of wine per person. Of course, mineral water or soft drinks should also be available.
If it’s a morning or afternoon reception, you may find that people will consume less alcohol (and that may also prove to be a cheaper time to book the venue). Teas and coffees may become an option to consider additionally.
If you’re booking a restaurant as the venue, you may want to ensure they have more wine etc. in reserve. Just in case.
If you’re having a cash-bar at the venue, then quantity is not going to be such a problem.
Should you be holding the reception at your home, then it may be harder to judge the quantities. It is probably better to err on the side of generosity, although you won’t want masses left over. A good idea, therefore, is to buy from Majestic, as up to 10% can be returned – provided the bottle and labels are in good condition. (Be aware that if the bottle is put into a bucket of ice, the label will suffer.)
Choice of Wine
Don’t be pretentious. You want something that will be drinkable for the majority and that goes down easily. It doesn’t necessarily have to complement the food. Light whites and juicy reds would be ideal. After a heavy red, half the guests may drop off during the speeches!
You should be able to get very decent wines that meet your needs at Marks & Spencers or Waitrose for about £6 – £8 a bottle.