Helpful planning tips for your wedding day drinks service

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Among the many tasks involved in planning your wedding day celebrations will be how to approach the drinks service. There are various aspects involved in this topic alone and through this post we will aim to provide some helpful insider knowledge and tips.

Now depending on the timeline for your day, the stages when drinks will be taken are quite easy to map out.

Here is a quick sample guide to how your day might run; (highlighted in bold are the drinks stages)

-Ceremony followed by photographs

-Drinks reception with canapés/snack food

-Sitting down for a three course meal (wine/water for the tables)

-Speeches with toast drink

-Tea/coffee to finish meal

-Evening bar opens

-Band 1st set

-Evening food is served

-Band 2nd set

-Evening bar closes

As you can see from the above guide timeline, there are plenty of stages in the day where drinks are served and so choosing what to have, how much to provide and when are important points to cover.

Venues: Depending on your chosen venue you may be able to supply and serve drinks you have sourced yourself. This is obviously the best route to save you pennies but be aware that many venues will charge a corkage fee to cover the chilling, serving and recycling of the empty bottles.

Where to buy: If providing your own alcohol there are various ways to source from a local supermarket, brewery, wholesaler or combination. It’s worth noting that if you could strike a deal with a supplier for sale or return, any unopened alcohol could be returned following the wedding if you have a lot left over.

Licensing if running a pay bar (local authority): Please remember that if you are planning to supply and sell any alcohol you must apply for a temporary events license with your local authority, further details can be found here this is something that must be applied for and approved before the day.

Hiring in glasses: If your caterers are organising the crockery/cutlery for the meal, chances are they’ll be able to order any glasses you’ll need for the day. Prices vary but as a guide .20p to .25p per glass is an average. To fit in with the guide timeline mentioned earlier you would need the following, champagne flute x 2 (reception +speeches), water glass, wine glass- all per person. Then any additional glasses for the evening if needed.

Plastic glasses for the evening: A good idea is to move onto plastic glasses for the evening which will save you money on hiring additional glasses. If you buy a decent recyclable sort then guests can simply put them into designated cup bins later into the evening when things are less formal. These can then be taken for recycling the following day.

What drinks for the various stages of the day: There are many types of drinks that can be served at weddings and this is also down to personal preference and time of the year. Pimms with fresh fruit, Prosecco, Champagne or cocktails all go down well for a drinks reception in the summer with an ice box full of bottled beer and soft drinks for everyone else. A winter wedding may lend itself to some mulled wine or cider to warm your guests up and keep in theme.

For the main meal most people tend to stick with a red or white wine for the table and then jugs of water with ice/lemon.

Finally the toast drink would traditionally be Champagne or Prosecco and each guest would have a glass to toast your speeches

Quantity of drink: A helpful suggestion would be to picture each stage of the day and decide what an average guest would likely consume, then times this by the number of guests and add on a percentage as backup.

Chilling of drinks: Some wedding venues provide fridges within their hire package-so it’s something worth finding out. You can also hire in fridge trailers or just large fridges depending on your numbers. Ice is another item worth remembering as it can also be used to chill down bottles of wine/beer in a large containers with some water added (picture a big tin bath or wheel barrow with lots of beer bottles sticking out and guests helping themselves!)

Soft drinks: It’s always worth noting that providing a good selection of soft drinks is equally important, as not everyone will want alcohol and some guests will be driving. There may also be children at your wedding.

Tea/coffee station: Leading on from needing soft drinks is tea/coffee, which can either be served following the meal or from a self serve buffet station through the day. Elderly relatives are usually very grateful for a cup of tea! 

Evening Bar: If organising the drinks for the daytime has left you with a headache then using a bar company to take care of the evening alcohol could be the option for you. They usually charge a small admin fee to cover and events notice and setup  and then make their money by selling directly to your guests. This also has the added benefit of you not having to pay for the evening drinks or glasses too!


Hopefully a combination of liaising with you catering team and venue will give you enough information about supplying your wedding day drinks. By reading this guide you will also have the knowledge to go prepared and ready to ask the right questions.