From those of us who have a hundred matrimonial relatives, to those of us who have, ourselves, been married more times than Henry the VIII, chances are we’ve all attended our fair share of weddings. As we sit through the ceremony, watching two people we care about exchange vows of love, forgiveness, and faithfulness, it’s easy to ponder certain questions: Will these newlyweds live happily ever after? Will they have children? Will they stay with each other in sickness and in health? And, most importantly, will the reception have an open bar?

The bride and the groom, though they have enough on their plate, also must deal with putting something in the glasses of their guests. While some receptions do away with alcohol completely, for those driven by certain religions or, perhaps, insanity, most either have a cash bar, an open bar, or a bit of both.

Because of this, choosing what alcohol to serve at a wedding is an important factor in the ceremonious occasion. It is a factor that teeters between wanting guests to enjoy themselves, but not wanting to form more of a union with credit card debt than with a new spouse. However, there is a way for those throwing the reception to have their alcohol and drink it too. In a nutshell (and a glass), serve wine.

Make it Convenient

Wine is cheaper than other types of alcohol, particularly hard alcohol. Because of this, making it available - and readily available - can save a ton of money. While you don’t need to shove wine down your guests’ throats, or hire a used car salesman to get rid of older vintages, there are a few things you can do to encourage wine drinking in a tactful manner.

One trick of the trade is to have hired caterers walk around with wine, offering it to guests. Not only does this make the guests feel as though they are being waited on hand and foot, but it also decreases the line at the bar, increasing the probability that guests will drink moderately priced wine rather than expensive liquor. If it’s convenient, chances are guests will drift away from a Jack and Coke, and instead, fall into the comforting arms of a Merlot.

Watch Out For Tricky Business

When ordering wine for a wedding, caterers will often charge one of two ways: by the number of guests, or by the amount of alcohol consumed. It may appear more financially frugal to pay by the amount of wine consumed; chances are not everyone at your reception - your old Aunt Molly with anti-alcohol beliefs, your Uncle John who’s recently back on the wagon, your underage cousin with a bad fake I.D. - will drink. However, be forewarned that caterers, when charging you by the amount of wine consumed, may get a little bit tricky, certain you are more concerned with keeping red wine away from the white wedding dress than you are with what the wait staff is doing.

Some caterers attempt to make it appear as if the guest list consumed more wine than they actually did, concerning both the people paying for the wedding and Alcoholics Anonymous.

One way they do this is by removing glasses from tables, even when the glasses are filled to the brim with wine. For example, if a guest gets a fresh glass of wine and then decides she wants to go out on the dance floor, leaving the wine to greet her upon her return, she will more likely come back to an empty table. This is because, while she was out dancing, the wait staff, circling like vultures, came over and threw out her full glass, forcing her to eventually fetch another new glass, and ultimately adding cost to the reception.

Know How Much to Buy

Running out of alcohol at a wedding reception ranks up near divorce on the spectrum of marriage, causing people, with opened mouths and clenched fists, to ponder why. Because of this, it’s essential that you know how much wine to buy if the caterers aren’t providing it for you. Obviously, the best way to figure this is by the amount of people attending, and the drinking habits of your guests. For a wedding with a guest list that is made of the-run-of-the-mill drinking crowd - the partiers, the socialites, the intellectuals - more wine should be purchased than if the guest list is made up of people - the oblivious, the unaware, the masochists - who don’t generally engage in wine drinking.

When deciding to buy red wine or white wine, making things pretty even is usually the best way to go. Typically, half of the people drinking wine will drink white and half will drink red. Chardonnay and Cabernet are usually the most popular types, with White Zinfandel getting an honorable mention. Men, sticking to their blood thirsty carnivorous ways, routinely drink more red wine while women routinely drink more white wine.

The demographics of your guest list, however, aren’t the only things to consider when purchasing wine. You should also consider what you are serving as the main course of dinner. For instance, if serving seafood, chicken, or pork, you may want to stock up on a nice white wine. If serving pastas, red meat, or anything drenched in red sauces, a cellar of nice red wine may need to be invaded.

Shop Around

It may seem like the wine purchased for a wedding reception needs to be expensive, as if serving cheap wine is an ominous sign of marital failure. However, this isn’t the case at all. Several expensive tasting wines can be purchased for a reasonable price, keeping guests happy and the married couple free of the burden of an outrageous wedding bill.

If you shop around, you may find that good wines for reasonable amounts are actually in abundance. From the Korbel Sparkling Natural Chardonnay to the Gruet Brut Blanc de Blancs, good wine doesn’t need to make the bride and groom consider charging a general admission fee to get into their ceremony.

Wine and weddings is as natural a union as husband and wife, particularly for those who are attempting to save a little money on their bar tab. Serving wine at your wedding will be cheaper than providing your guests with hard alcohol or expensive beer. It will also keep guests happy, allowing everyone to eat, drink, and be merry…or be married.