Choosing your reception drinks
After food, the drinks you choose for your wedding reception are likely to be your next greatest expense, so it’s worth getting it right. If you select well, your drinks should have the ‘wow factor’, compliment the food served, and make for a stylish and memorable wedding.
There are three main drinks served at a wedding: the first reception drink, which is often something bubbly and usually served with small canapés before the wedding breakfast; the drink used to toast the happy couple during the speeches, which is usually Champagne; and the wines, both red and white, to accompany the wedding breakfast. Don’t forget you’ll need to provide soft drinks for children, drivers and non-drinkers too, and after the wedding breakfast there is usually a bar for guests to enjoy, while they dance the night away.
Reception drinks: the first impression you’ll give your guests, so make it special.
If you want to impress, then serve your guests Champagne or Champagne cocktails, or for something a little more unusual how about a Bellini, an Italian cocktail traditionally made with delicious puréed white peaches/ peach Schnapps and sparkling wine, or a Mimosa, more commonly known as Bucks Fizz, made with Champagne and orange juice. Pink Champagne is a pretty option and perfectly ties in with a pink colour scheme; the very regal sounding Kir Royale always looks super stylish; it’s a pretty mix of Champagne and Crème de Cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) – the ideal alcoholic accessory to a wedding with a red colour scheme. A warm mulled wine is the perfect answer to a winter wedding. You should expect each guest to have one to two drinks before the wedding breakfast, any more and they’ll be too drunk to enjoy their meal!
Get creative: with colour scheme matching cocktails, spirits and mixers or something truly unique.
Fun summer mixers such as Pimms No. 1 filled with the usual orange, lemon, cucumber, apple and mint are always a real winner for drinking in the summer sunshine. The aptly named ‘Passion Pimms No. 6’ is a wedding drink to remember, adding crushed ice, vodka and the flesh and juice of a passion fruit to Pimms for a sweet and tasty drink that packs a punch.
For something different go for a funky cocktail like the refreshing rum-based lime and mint tasting Mojito or create your own signature cocktail for your wedding using your favourite drinks mixed with your fiancé’s favourites (unless he only drinks lager and you’re a red wine girl – that’s a recipe for disaster!) You could experiment with a few favourite tastes and give it a name to remember - your guests will love trying something you’ve created.
Toasting the happy couple: that’s raising a glass of bubbly to their health, not warming them by the fire!
When it comes to the all important toasting of the bride and groom, producing a true bottle of Champagne will certainly leave a lasting impression on your guests.
There are different styles of Champagne: ranging from Brut, which is very dry, to Demi Sec, which has a sweeter taste, and vintage labels, made from grapes of one specific year. To earn the right to have the word Champagne on the bottle, however, it must be entirely produced from the Champagne region of Northern France. There are other options of course, and many sparkling wines are an excellent alternative which may also be easier on your wallet. Some of the best quality sparkling wines come from Australia (Tasmania and Yarra Valley), New Zealand, California and even England. If you want to push the boat out, go for a big bottle of bubbly such as a magnificent ‘magnum’ which holds two bottles in one, or a ‘jeroboam’ which holds an impressive four! For that little something special, place a single raspberry at the bottom of each glass and for real style go for those 1960s shallow round-shaped Champagne glasses instead of flutes.
Bar options: choosing a pay bar, free bar or a mobile bar.
There’s nothing like a free bar at a wedding but if your family or friends are heavy drinkers then some guests may take advantage. Limiting drinks, or cash, can help. A compromise here is to let guests know there will be a free bar for the first two hours and then a pay bar after that. If you can afford it a free bar is the way to go, but if the budget is tight it’s fine to have a pay bar, as long as you let your guests know in advance. If you’re holding your reception in a local village or church hall then you could consider hiring a mobile bar.