Wedding Drinks

Wedding Drinks and ChampagneWhilst you are not expected to provide a free bar at the wedding breakfast, some bubbly for the toast and perhaps a few bottles on the tables for guests are expected to come from the bride and groom. Yet with a little smart shopping, you needn’t be landed with a huge wine bill.

We had a strict budget to stick to for our wedding yet we managed to get some own brand bubbly for the toast, which was just as nice as the real thing, and a few cheap bottles of wine from Aldi for the tables.

It wasn’t the best wine but no-one complained! There’s a lot more choice now on wines and you can get some incredible bargains on own brands!

Corkage Fee

One thing to watch out for if you are not using wine provided by the venue is the corkage fee. This may seem pricey but providing your own wine and paying a corkage fee can still be cheaper than having your wine supplied by the venue.

Corkage is the price charged for staff to open your wine, serve it to guests, dispose of the bottles and the usage of their glasses. Most venues will charge a fee per bottle, which can vary from £5 to £15. If you are providing around 50 bottles of wine you can see how this mounts up! However don’t be afraid to negotiate with them, they will be open to alternative offers especially if they have a booking riding on it. Ask if you can pay a set fee for all drinks provided by yourselves, this should work out cheaper than charging per bottle.


Some couples like to give each guest a glass of champagne as they arrive for the wedding breakfast, but others will reserve it for the toasts. Traditionally champagne is used for toasting to the guests health and anything extra will be up to you. It is wise to order slightly more than you think you need as any extra can be used to refill glasses, but you certainly don’t want to leave yourself short.

Tesco and Marks and Spencer sell some reasonably priced non-vintage champagne as well as the more expensive brands and if you buy in bulk and check the latest Champagne offers and deals you’ll often get a further discount.

This Charles Ellner Brut Champagne is perfectly adequate for toasts and is very light and moorish! However if you want to splurge then the Louis Chaurey Champagne is highly rated and one of Marks and Spencers bestsellers.

marks and spencer champagne charles ellner brut marks and spencer louid chaurey vintage champagne

Sparkling Wine

If your budget doesn’t extend to champagne, like ours didn’t, then you can get some very pleasant sparkling wine and let’s face it, after guests have eaten and drunk to their fill, by the time the toasts are announced, most are usually more than a little tipsy and in no state to discern whether or not you have served them Louis Chaurey Champagne or Aldi’s finest sparkling white wine.

As it’s for the toast however, let’s have a look at some cheats champagne that have all the taste but none of the expense!

Cava is made in exactly the same way as champagne is made by the French, the only difference being that it’s made in Spain. It’s the perfect substitute to champagne and every bit as good! This Brut Cava Prestige is refreshingly aromatic and tangy and is the perfect finish to a fine meal.

Marks and Spencer Spanish Brut Cava Prestige Marks and Spencer Bellante Sparkling rose wine

Sparkling rosé is more than an adequate substitution for champagne and this Bellante Sparkling Rosé won’t disappoint. It’s a lively little wine full of flavour and has that perfect froth when pouring that signals a great sparkling wine!

Table Wine

Usually bottles of red and white wine are provided for guests at the wedding breakfast, with perhaps a rosé too if you feel extravagant! Most people will drink either a white or red wine so it’s the safer choice. For those who don’t drink alcohol, or who can’t, there is a wide selection of alcohol free bubbly and wine that you can provide. Try to find out in advance who won’t be drinking and make sure there is an alternative on the table for them.

Now how many bottles to provide is dependent on various factors such as the size of your wine glasses and how many guests you are catering for. On average one bottle of wine will fill six 125ml glasses, those are the smaller wine glasses. So assuming you provide enough for every guest to have two glasses and you have 100 guests, you’ll need around 34 bottles. Some of those guests will be children who won’t be drinking and others will choose either not to have any wine or just to have one glass, but it’s better to get too much than leave yourself short, so why not round it off to 35 bottles?

When providing wine for your wedding it’s really best not to be a snob. Your guests are hardly going to comment on the finer subtleties between a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc or complain that the red hasn’t been oak aged. They’re just grateful for free wine! However you will find that everyone has a particular preference; such as full bodied over soft and mellow, and crisp and dry over fruity and creamy. Therefore it may be wise to mix and match a little so that guests can swap bottles around between them and there is a wine to cater for every taste.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with own label wine like this Australian Chardonnay made for Marks and Spencer that is bursting with fruity zest and which leaves a lingering creamy oakiness in your mouth.

Marks and Spencer Australian Chardonnay medium dry Marks and Spencer red French Syrah Grenache medium bodied

The red French Syrah Grenache will also appeal to most tastes. It’s smooth, simple and succulently fruity with bursts of berries and other woodland fruit. For those who like their wine mellow, this would suit perfectly!

And for a good, reasonable rosé try this sweet Moscatel Grenache Rosado which is just delicious and will convert even the most hardened of red wine drinkers! You may want to order a little more of this as it will prove to be very popular!

Marks and Spencer Moscatel Grenache Rosado rose wine

It’s impossible to choose wines to everyone’s taste but with this selection, choosing a happy medium shouldn’t be too much of a chore. The key is to go for popular brands rather than experimenting with something new and have enough of a selection for guests to be able to choose their own particular tipple. And make sure of course, that you save some of the best wine for yourselves!