How Much? How Many? . . . what you'll need
(tent size, drinks, servings of alcoholic beverages, non-alcholic beverages, glassware, hors d'oeuvres, etc.)

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If you are expecting to take on a large part of planning your wedding, then these guidelines will serve you well. If you'll be leaving the work to professionals, then these tips will make you a more educated consumer.

1. Calculate How Large a Tent you will need for a garden wedding with an outdoor reception.
Allow 12 square feet for each person in your outdoor space and/or in your tent. This calculation will allow space between the tables. If, for example, you are having 100 guests, you will need a tent measuring 30 feet by 40 feet. You will need to leave additional space in the tent so the caterer can set up serving and/or buffet tables. Figure at least one buffet table for each group of seventy-five guests.

2. Calculate How Many Drinks Will You Need
The average cocktail party lasts three hours. Allow three drinks per person, more, depending on your guests' drinking habits. A buffet or sit-down dinner is usually about four hours long. Figure three to four drinks per person. For a wedding that is planned for "all evening," about five or six hours, figure on four drinks per guest.

3. Calculate How Many Servings of Alcoholic Beverages you can get and how many bottles you need for a wedding reception.
Start by a best guess as to what kind of liquor your guests will prefer. Are they more likely to prefer wine, hard liquor or beer? How many do you estimate are non-drinkers?
Then follow these guidelines to calculate:
The average bottle of wine (26 oz./750 ml) yields 5 Servings.
The average bottle of champagne will yield 6 flute glasses.
A case of champagne will yield 72 Servings.
A 26 oz. (750 ml) bottle of spirits yields 17 Servings of 1 oz. (45 ml) each.
A 40 oz. (1.14 L) bottle of spirits yields 25 Servings.
You will need three bottles of mix for every bottle of spirits.
Try to further refine your guesstimate. Do you know that more of your guests prefer red wine over white, or that most of your older guests will prefer rye or vodka?
Whatever your total comes to, add extra bottles. Most liquor distributors will take back unopened.

Beers and Cheers . . . With a domestic-brand beer, a half-barrel keg contains 15.5 gallons, while the quarter-barrel contains 7.75 gallons. If you are using a 10-ounce cup, this totals to about 200 cups of beer for a half-barrel, while the quarter-barrel contains about 100 cups. (Imported beer kegs are sized differently, with a half-barrel containing 10.7 gallons. You'll also find that domestic taps may not fit an imported keg.)

To set up a bar for a cocktail party . . .
Allow at least 11 lbs. (5 kg.) of ice cubes per every ten adults.
Have bottles of soda water, cola, ginger ale, lemon-lime soft drinks, tonic water, bitter lemon, tomato juice, clam tomato juice or vegetable cocktail, orange juice, grapefruit juice, pineapple juice, and a variety of diet soft drinks, carbonated and non-carbonated waters for mixes and refreshments for non-drinkers.
For cocktail mixes you will need Worcester sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt, pepper, sugar, celery sticks, and maraschino cherries. For fancy cocktails, refer to a cocktail recipe book for a complete list of ingredients.
For garnishes, you will need olives, cocktail onions, sliced oranges, sliced lemons and limes.

You'll also need to have on hand the tools of the trade:
ice cubes storage (e.g., ice bucket, cooler chest)
bottle opener
can opener
ice tongs
shot glasses for measuring
small sharp knife and cutting board
long-handled spoon for mixing drinks
cocktail napkins, toothpicks or cocktail picks, and straws
For serving fancy cocktails, you will also need: a cocktail shaker.

3. Calculate the Kind and Amount of Glassware You'll Need
For a wedding reception, you will be safe with three kinds of glasses: a multi-purpose wine glass, a tall tumbler glass for all mixed drinks, and flutes for champagne. You should have at least one of each glass per guest, plus a few extras to spare. Make sure to add extras of tumblers for "heavy" drinkers and for guests who drink non-alcoholic beverage after drinking alcoholic beverages.

For a cocktail party, have on all the above, plus fancy cocktail glasses. You may wish to provide one "specialty" cocktail, such as a margaritas or martinis. This simplifies your hosting tasks. But, should you wish to offer a complete range of cocktails, you will do well to hire a professional bartender.

4. Calculate the Number of Hors D'oeuvres Per Guest
The number of hors d'oeuvres you will need is dependent upon the kinds of hors d'oeuvres you are serving, as well as the length of the party. It's always nice to provide a variety of choices. For a two-hour cocktail party, eight choices will work. Allow three pieces of each type for each guest. If the hors d'oeuvres are substantial, you can reduce the number per guest to two pieces of each kind.

5. Calculate How Much Punch to Prepare
The typical punch recipe calls for one bottle of spirits and 12 cups (3 liters) of mix or juice. That will provide thirty Servings. Allow one and a half Servings of punch per person.

6. At an Alcohol-free Event (e.g., water, iced tea, lemonade, hot coffee, tea) Calculate How Much to Buy Per Guests
Count on three drinks per guest, whether adults or children. You are always safe erring on the side of over-estimating. Unopened bottles can usually be returned, but to make sure, you should check in advance at the store where you buy your drinks.
Also remember to stock up on lots of ice. You should have at least one pound of ice per person for serving in drinks and to keep beverages cold.
If the weather is hot or the party is active you should have more.

This list is not meant to replace the advice of professionals such as a rental company, or wedding planner. Do the best you can and then, just enjoy!

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