Wedding Reception; DIY Drink Service

water and punch at an LDS wedding reception
Photo Courtesy of Amber Katrina Photography

If you’re going to be doing your own catering at your wedding reception, then you’ll need to figure out how to handle drink service. Your guests will need to have a beverage with dinner, plus have access to some type of drink area during the reception.

Dinner Beverages

The dinner drinks should be placed at the end of the buffet table so guests do not have to juggle a beverage the whole time they are filling their plates. Traffic flows better if someone is stationed at the end of the buffet, filling glasses and placing them on the table. If you are offering more than one beverage, label “areas” of the table so guests know what is in each glass.

LDS Wedding Reception Drinks

Once dinner is over and guests spend the rest of the reception mingling and dancing, they’re going to get thirsty. How will you accommodate them? Efficient traffic flow is important here, so pay attention to where you place the drink area. Choose an area that is off to the side of the action but isn’t hidden, away from the entrance and exit.

How to display your drinks is up to you. A casual, low-cost solution is a kiddie pool filled with ice and cans of soda, juice, and bottled water. Someone will need to check on it every once in a while to restock beverages and replace ice as it melts.

drinks at LDS reception buffet tables
Photo Courtesy of Amelia Lyon Photography

Receptions that are more formal call for a beverage table with a tablecloth and centerpieces. Drinks are displayed on the table in crystal punch bowls or in tiered punch fountains from a wedding rental supply store. Each beverage should be neatly labeled with a card that matches the wedding colors and décor.

If you can afford an attendant or two to man the drink area, consider holding a non-alcoholic open bar. Stock it with sodas, juices, punch, smoothies, Italian sodas, milkshakes, or whatever other beverage you can dream up. Post a “menu” of preselected drinks at the bar to help keep traffic moving.

Cup, Napkin, and Ice Calculator for LDS Wedding Receptions

LDS reception punch
Photo Courtesy of

You don’t want to be left with hundreds of extras after the night is over, but you also don’t want to run out of cups, napkins, or ice before the reception ends.


It depends on the length of your reception (more beverages are drunk at the beginning) and whether some of your beverages come in cans (some will drink right out of the can rather than using a glass,) but in general figure on 1 cup per guest per hour of the reception. 12-ounce glasses are usually the best. Any smaller guarantees more frequent refills; any larger and the drinks get diluted as the ice melts.


Figure 4 napkins per guest if you are using square paper napkins, not including the dinner napkin. Not all guests will use a napkin each time they take a beverage, but the odd drink spill here and there will inevitably use up several napkins by itself.


Of course it depends on the length of your reception and whether your drinks will need ice. But to be safe, figure that you will need 1 pound of ice per person.


Be well equipped to handle spills, clean off the bar, and handle other emergencies with several dry towels.

♥ Jenny Evans
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Catering for LDS weddings, LDS reception, LDS open houses

LDS weddings, LDS reception, LDS open houses

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