Your guide to a wedding bar and drinks

What to buy, how much do you need and does it have to be champagne? Here's everything you need to know when it comes to big day drinks!

No one wants to run dry on their wedding day – a steady flow of alcohol is a recipe for fun, laughter and merriment, so you need to put thought into your wedding drinks. These days guests expect a freebie or two before they hit the bar – especially for the pre-reception and toast. So how do you know how much and what to buy? The experts behind the Waitrose’s wine delivery service Waitrose Cellar are here to help with your wedding drinks FAQs…


1.     How much is enough?
One of the highlights of a wedding is being surrounded by your nearest and dearest and everyone having a merry old time. But how much alcohol do you order to keep your guests on an even keel? Keep a supply of back-up wins Some wine stockists such as Waitrose Cellar allow you to return unopened cases. Alternatively, take any surplus bottles as a wedding gift to yourself.

2.     How to cater for all tastes?
It’s worth noting now that you’ll never please everyone when it comes to wine. Here it’s best to choose a ‘safe’ yet sophisticated red and white. The crowd-pleasers of the wine world come in the form of light, fruity reds such as a Shiraz or low acidity white wine such as a Viognier or Chablis. There will be the occasional Rosé drinker too. French Rosé is usually your best bet. If you’re still in a pickle then why not get guests to choose their wine preference on their RSVP?

3.     Do I need to order champagne?
Champagne is a traditional wedding staple during speeches, but Prosecco has been sharply climbing the ranks in recent years and can save you pounds. If you’re looking for something different then why not try an English sparkling wine to show your guests how modern your tastes are?


4.     Open bar vs paying guests

No one wants to remember your wedding as Mr and Mrs Frugal. Then again, everyone hates a freeloader and seeing Uncle Jim in the corner with his back-up supply of 40 Heinekens before the tab runs dry. Why not print out ‘fun money’ for the day with the faces of you and your new spouse to keep thirsty guests at bay?

5.     Table wine
It’s up to you whether wine will be on the table for guests to help themselves. If so, a bottle of red, white and rosé on the table will suit all tastes. Personalised labels commemorating your day or miniature bottles as wedding favours are nice touches. Pinterest is a great source of enviable inspiration for wedding wine ideas if you’re a dab hand with a glue gun and some glitter.

6.     Corkage fees
This can be another cost creep. Ensure you check this with your venue if choosing to buy wine from an outside source. In some cases the corkage fee may equal the price of buying wine directly from the venue. Attend a tasting so you know what you’re signing up for.


7.     Feeling out of your depth
So you’re not a connoisseur and usually choose your wine based on price or trusted favourites – and if you’re not the bluffing type then sometimes it’s best to leave it to the experts. Wine from a trustworthy source should come with a team of wine advisors. Waitrosecellar.com has a team of sommeliers and masters of wine on hand to help you match wine to the weather, food or venue of your big day. Why not order a tasting case of wine (2 whites, 2 reds and 2 sparkling) to help you make the decision easier?

8.     Hiding the ‘drinkable gifts’
This may not be a pre-concern during the planning phase but may be if you discover your gifts were chilled in the same cabinet as the guests’ wine. Remember to keep these separate if you want these to last!

9.     Warm wine
It’s a bonus if you’re getting married in the UK and scorching temperatures arrive. However, no one likes a fuzzy warm rosé or white wine. Keeping wine chilled is a must but how to do this en masse?  Ensure there is surplus fridge space at your chosen venue. Alternatively, head to Pinterest again for some inspiration but try not to get carried away by images of ice laden vintage bathtubs if your budget doesn’t allow for this.


10.  Glass Hire
Glass hire will be a must if you’ve chosen a remote venue. Ensure you choose somewhere that offers champagne flutes to pint glasses and everything in between, as ordering from one supplier will be easier to return. Don’t worry about thorough washing up – you just need to hose down the glasses after the big day. Be wary of breakage fees and maybe restrict to plastic cups after the wedding breakfast or for certain guests!