How much alcohol do you really need for an Indian wedding? Well, it kind of depends.
If your big Punjabi family loves to throw back the Johnny Walker, you’re going to want to have a lot of scotch on hand. If your conservative Gujarati family frowns upon anything fermented, you might not need any at all. If you grew up on the Jersey Shore and your life is Jaegerbombs, or if your entire extended family only drinks gin and tonics because they’re always warding off malaria, your alcohol selection and quantity will be different from others. Below are some tips to help you calculate the number of drinks you’ll need for your Indian wedding.
First, what’s your audience? Mostly heavy drinkers? Mostly aunties who wag their fingers at even a sip of champagne? Lots of non-Indians? Mostly Quakers? (Hey, I don’t know your life. Maybe you hang with lots of Quakers. Trying to be accommodating here.)
Second, at how many events do you plan on serving alcohol? Some people will stick to non-alcohol drinks at the mehndi but plan to serve alcohol at the sangeet and reception. It is very rare — and possibly unheard of — to serve alcohol before an Indian wedding ceremony. Are you going to have a cocktail hour before the sangeet or reception? Will you have post-wedding brunch with mimosas? Consider all of the options before you buy.
Third, what type of alcohol will you serve? You can choose to offer a full bar, with wine, liquor, beer, and non-alcoholic drinks, or you can limit the selection. Some couples choose to offer only wine and beer to cut costs, or prepare a signature cocktail as the liquor drink of the night, so they only have to buy one or two types of liquor. When choosing wine and beer, do you want to stick with grocery store classics or upgrade to craft beers and wines from local vineyards?
Fourth, how many bars will you have? Even if you negotiate with your location vendor to allow you to bring in your own alcohol, you’ll probably have to provide full bottles at each event for them to use, because most state regulations prevent bartenders from serving from a previously opened bottle unless it’s at a house bar. If you are having a large reception with four bar areas, you might need to have more bottles of alcohol on hand just to cater to each of your bars.
Fifth, count the hours. How long will you be serving alcohol at each event? How many drinks do you think each person will need?
Sixth, don’t forget the champagne toast!
Lastly, consider your non-alcoholic drinks. You’ll need to allocate sodas for mixers, but also remember that you’ll have guests who won’t drink alcohol at all. If your vendor provides the mixers, double check whether they will also provide non-alcoholic sodas to guests who aren’t imbibing. And if you’re having a champagne toast, do you want the kids and non-drinkers to feel included? If so, grab a few bottles of sparkling cider to add to the mix.
Once you’ve thought these things through, we usually recommend turning to Evite’s handy dandy drink calculator. Even if the numbers aren’t exact, it’ll give you a good idea of where to get started.
And remember: if possible, negotiate to provide your own alcohol (it’s usually cheaper that way!), and buy from a place that will allow you to return the excess! Any open bottles leftover after the shenanigans are perfect for your own stock-the-bar party as newlyweds!