Organizing Your Wedding Part 5 – Delicious Drinks

by | Food & Catering Wisdom, Wisdom


Jenna of Lucky Sixpence Events Co

Image by Jose Villa Fine Art Weddings

Hello Dotties,

Cheers, Salute, Skaal; whatever your preferred pre-drink mantra, it will be used an unfeasible amount of times on your wedding day… and quite right too! What with the reception drinks and speeches this is a day of celebration, and with celebration there should be delicious drinks aplenty!

As the alcohol served at your wedding can take a hefty bite out of your budget, I recommend that you first consider how and when you will be serving alcoholic drinks; here are a few options for those of you getting married in a stately home, hotel or similar licensed venue.

What is included? Many venues offer a ‘per person’ package, which include the wedding breakfast and a limited amount of alcohol {often ½ bottle of wine per person and 1-2 reception drinks}. Let’s be honest, this is not really enough to keep the party going, and as such the following options should also be considered:

Full Open Bar: All alcoholic drinks, including top spirits to be served for the entire day and evening; guests can order whatever takes their fancy and the barman can rustle up! This is not really one for the budget-conscious, or those planning a very large wedding; however it can be considered for smaller affairs.

Limited Open Bar: Specific alcoholic drinks (for example Smirnoff Vodka only… not Grey Goose) to be served during the day and evening or day only {possibly with a cash bar in the evening}.

Beer & Wine Bar: This is a popular option, you provide a number of beers and wine choices, and should guests wish to drink spirits, these can be purchased at the bar.

Cash Bar: You may agree or disagree with is as an option, but here goes… the alcohol choices are as per the Full Open Bar, but guests will need to pay for all of their drinks {usually apart from those consumed at the Wedding Breakfast}.

Please remember the tea-total, drivers, pregnant and children: Tea, coffee and a range of non-alcoholic drinks should definitely be included in your budget.

When the Aussie Import and I got married at Woburn Abbey, UK in 2007, we had an intimate affair for 76 of our nearest and dearest {and not so nearest… the lovely Byron Bay and Los Angeles contingent!} and decided to ‘mix & match’ the Full Open & Limited Open options – the bar stocked a range of our favourite spirits, beers, wines and champagne {and only these were on show} and they were available to our guests for the entire duration of the day and evening. The only limitation we gave to the bar staff was that shots weren’t allowed. By having a smaller wedding, we were able to allocate more of our budget on the booze.

Image Simon Peter Taylor via Sarah and Rob’s Relaxed Garden Party Wedding

Marquees, private homes et al

For those of you celebrating your wedding at a private home, or in a marquee on private land – the world is your tipsy oyster! Please see the end of this post for details on purchasing your own wine and spirits in advance.

Now, with the type of alcohol service chosen, you can get on with the fun bit – bubbly, cocktails, beers stations and much more! A few options are below:

Consider inventing a signature cocktail to be served to your guests at the post-ceremony drinks reception. You can name it and also link it to your colour theme. It could be related to where you met, where he proposed, your favourite spirits etc…. Bar staff can either serve these on trays or for a more informal wedding, jugs can be laid out for guests to help themselves.

Champagne ‘v’ Prosecco. If chosen well, prosecco is a fantastic and cost-effective way to give your guests a hit of the bubbly stuff! For your drinks reception, you could serve prosecco with a dash of cranberry juice and fresh blueberries or something similar for a stylish, yet purse-pleasing celebratory drink.

No to Orange Juice! Think of the poor drivers and those with a bun in the oven and offer something more creative than orange juice at the drinks reception! Alcohol-free cocktails, rose lemonade or elderflower fizz are all fab options and will make them feel more loved!

Set up a beer station at the drinks reception, this works particularly well at informal or outdoor wedding celebrations – bottles of beer can be held in retro metal buckets filled with ice, the boys will be more than happy to help themselves!

Image by This Modern Romance

And now for ordering  wine and spirits – the main options are:

If agreeable with your venue/caterer – you can consider purchasing the wine {and possibly other alcohol} from Liquor Home Delivery or similar. This is a definite money-saver, but remember to check that the supplier offers a service where you can return and refund any unopened bottles… otherwise it might be Rioja for breakfast, lunch and dinner for months to come!

Many venues are happy for you to supply your own wine, but they will charge ‘corkage’ – this can often be a hefty price per bottle, which suddenly makes your $10 a bottle from your local bottle shop very unpalatable – venues make the most profit on the alcohol, so corkage is often a way to politely make supplying your own too costly, always check the small print.

Attend a taste-testing session at the venue where you and your partner will quaff your way through their wine list, before deciding on your favourites – most couples like to offer 2 red and 2 white. These can then be ordered directly with your venue saving you the hassle of sourcing your own. This is a fun task – just remember to book a taxi home!

Thrifty Thought for the Day: During the Wedding Breakfast, instead of serving bottled mineral water, ask your venue to supply tap water in stylish water jugs {or if you are going for a retro/vintage feel you could find these on Ebay etc…} – these can be garnished with slices of lemon and lime and a sprig of mint.

Happy Planning! Jenna x

Ms Gingham says: Cocktails are near and dear to our hearts here at Polka Dot Bride! In fact you can check out our regular Cocktail Friday article on Polka Dot Made for more drinks inspiration!

About Jenna From Lucky Sixpence Events: “With over 10 years professional experience in event coordination & business management within the Arts, and a passion for creative design and all things ‘wedding’, I decided that it was time to merge my profession with my obsession; the result was Lucky Sixpence Events.”

Missed some installments of this series on organizing your wedding? Catch up here.



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