There’s roughly 260,000 weddings in the UK every year and so, despite how planning the perfect personalised wedding can sometimes feel unachievable, there’s a wealth of advice to help things go as smoothly as possible, whatever your requirements.
Compared to ‘focus’ items such as the venue, bridesmaid dresses or the music choices, wine can feel somewhat further down the planning scale. It’s just Champagne for the toast and then a choice between red and white, right?
With an average of 96 guests invited to your big day, each with their own expectations, the food and drink deserves more than a passing thought. According to research you’ll be spending roughly 20% of your budget on it, so it’s a key thing to get right.
In terms of drinks, as well as catering for those not drinking alcohol for whatever reason, a good rule of thumb per person is a welcome drink, half a bottle for the main meal, and finally something fizzy for the toast. To ensure a happy crowd it’s probably better to over-cater than under-cater, and you can usually get a refund on any unused bottles.
Don’t feel that the toast and welcome drink needs to be budget-blowing expensive Champagne. Cheaper doesn’t equal cheap, but if Prosecco or Cava don’t have the grandeur for your special occasion, my top tip is to go for Cremant. Although you many not be familiar with it, it’s another French sparkling wine made in exactly the same way as Champagne, just not in the Champagne region. You’ll save yourself a lot of money and most guests would be hard-pressed to tell the difference.
For the main course, a good rule of thumb is to plan for the white vs. red on a 40/60 split. To ensure you please as many palates as possible keep your choices simple and classic, and check that they compliment your food choices (e.g. avoid powerful reds with lighter meats such as chicken). It also adds a nice touch if there is a story behind the wine too, such as serving one that you both tried whilst on holiday.
As with all aspects of your preparations, mention the word ‘wedding’ and prices immediately shoot upwards. Sourcing the wine yourself rather than going with the limited options from your venue can mean a little extra detective work but could also save you money. Don’t forget to check whether your venue applies a corkage fee.
Another good thing to check is that the venue is providing adequate serving staff for your expected number of guests. You want people to focus on enjoying themselves rather than wondering when the next drink will turn up! Putting a set number of bottles on each table may seem like you’re giving people the opportunity for a free-for-all, but research shows that people actually drink slower if they can go at their own pace, rather than downing a drink each time they see the lesser-spotted server.