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What Drinks to Serve at a Wedding? (The Complete Guide)

What Drinks to Serve at a Wedding? (The Complete Guide)

Your wedding day is a momentous occasion filled with love, joy, and unforgettable memories. As you plan every detail perfectly, don’t overlook the importance of selecting the right drinks to complement your celebration. Your choice of beverages can significantly enhance the overall wedding experience, reflecting your personality, style, and the ambiance you wish to create. 

This comprehensive guide will delve into choosing the perfect drinks for your wedding, ensuring that your guests are well-hydrated and enchanted by the flavours and presentation. Look at how your glasses fit into your overarching wedding theme and style.

Understanding Your Wedding Theme and Style

Before we dive into the world of beverages, it’s crucial to consider your wedding’s theme and style. Are you opting for a traditional, formal wedding? Or do you prefer a casual or outdoor affair? These choices will play a significant role in determining the types of drinks that will best suit your celebration.

Traditional vs. Modern Weddings

Traditional weddings often call for classic drink choices like champagne, wine, and timeless cocktails. On the other hand, modern weddings provide an opportunity to get creative with innovative cocktails and craft beers.

Outdoor vs. Indoor Weddings

Refreshing drinks like lemonades, iced teas, and spritzers might be ideal if your wedding is outdoors in warm weather. You have more flexibility for indoor affairs with hot beverages like specialty coffees and generous cocktails.

outdoor wedding

Formal vs. Casual Weddings

A formal wedding may warrant a premium wine selection and signature cocktails served by professional bartenders. In contrast, casual weddings may embrace a self-serve bar or a more relaxed drink menu.

Choosing Your Wedding Beverage Basics

Once you’ve determined your wedding style, it’s time to delve into the logistics of wedding beverage planning. Let’s take a look at some of the factors you should consider.

Set a Budget for Wedding Beverages

Determining your budget is the first step in planning your wedding drinks. Decide how much you’re willing to allocate for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Remember to factor in the cost of bar services, glassware, and unique ingredients for signature cocktails.

wedding drink champagne

Calculate the Number of Drinks Needed

Estimating the number of drinks required for your wedding can be tricky. A general rule of thumb is to plan for at least two drinks per guest for the first hour and one drink per guest for each subsequent hour. This can be adjusted based on your guest list and the duration of your celebration.

Be sure to buy 5-10% more than your caterer’s estimated volume. You don’t want to run short if the celebration flows late into the evening. Any surplus, such as extra bottles of wine, makes a nice gift for parents or as a wedding favour.

Select the Right Bar Service Option

There are various bar service options to choose from, each with its pros and cons.

Full Open Bar: This option provides a wide range of alcoholic beverages for your guests. While it’s the most inclusive, it can also be expensive.

Limited Open Bar: You can offer a selection of beer, wine, and a few signature cocktails, limiting the types of drinks available. This option strikes a balance between variety and cost.

Cash Bar: In a cash bar, guests pay for their drinks. While this can help offset costs, it may not align with the all-inclusive feel of a wedding.

Consider Working with a Professional Bartender

Hiring a professional bartender can elevate your wedding bar service. They can craft cocktails, ensure proper alcohol service, and manage the bar area efficiently. You can also collaborate with your bartender to create a menu that aligns with your theme and style.

Wine Selections: Elevating the Dining Experience

Wine comes in various varietals and price points and can be the perfect place to start when sorting out your drinks menu. Let’s look at some factors you should consider when choosing wine for your wedding

wedding drink wine

Understanding Wine Varietals and Pairings

Pairing wine with your menu can elevate the flavours of each course. Conversely, some wines might clash with certain foods. To achieve harmony between food and drinks, consult a sommelier or your catering team to choose the right wines for your dishes. 

Budget-Friendly vs. Premium Wine Options

If you want budget-friendly options, consider Pinot Grigio, chardonnay, white zinfandel, cabernet, and merlot, safe yet pleasing defaults.

If you want to provide higher-end wines, work with your wedding planner or a sommelier to choose vineyard names and vintages. With this option, you can select wines produced in areas unique to you, like your honeymoon location. Choosing a highly-rated vintage elevates your reception’s flavours but will require a higher budget.

Work With Your Caterer

Chat with your caterer or restaurant about selecting two red and two white wines from their inventory. This can help make your wine selection easier. Your caterer can also help you determine the proper glassware, serving temperatures, and pouring techniques. These details will contribute to an elegant dining experience.

Beer and Beyond Catering to All Tastes

While wine and cocktails often take center stage at weddings, it’s essential not to overlook the beer selection. Beer lovers among your guests will appreciate the thought and care put into offering a diverse and satisfying beer menu.

wedding drinks beer

Offer a Variety of Beer Options

Consider including a selection of craft beers, local brews, and widespread domestic choices to cater to a diverse group of guests.

Craft Beers: Craft breweries offer an array of unique and flavorful options. Consider partnering with local breweries to showcase regional favourites or offer a curated selection of craft beers that align with your wedding theme.

Domestic Classics: Popular beers like lagers and pilsners are crowd-pleasers that a broad spectrum of guests can enjoy.

International Brews: For a touch of global flair, explore imported beers from European countries renowned for brewing traditions. These can add a touch of sophistication and a nod to your European-inspired wedding.

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Seasonal Brews: Consider seasonal or specialty brews depending on the time of year. Crisp lagers in the summer or rich stouts in the winter can be excellent choices.

Focus on Presentation

Pay attention to the presentation of your beer offerings. Serve them in appropriate glassware to enhance the tasting experience. Consider personalized beer labels or coasters that tie into your wedding theme to get creative. They can also serve as a memento for you and your guests to remember the event for years.

Crafting a Curated Beer Menu

Just like wine, beer can enhance the flavours of your dishes. For example, lighter beers can complement seafood, while richer, maltier brews go well with hearty dishes. Consult with your catering team to curate a beer menu that complements your dish selection and creates a bespoke experience for your guests.

wedding bar

Consider Interactive Beer Stations

If you or your partner truly wish to lean into beer as a central wedding feature, consider creating interactive beer stations where guests can sample different beers and learn about their unique characteristics. This can add an educational and enjoyable element to your wedding.

Crafted Cocktails: A Wedding Highlight

Signature cocktails have become a beloved wedding tradition, allowing couples to infuse their personalities and unique love stories into the beverage menu. These carefully crafted drinks delight the taste buds and serve as a conversation starter and memorable part of your celebration.

You can also include a selection of traditional cocktails or add your twist to the classics to make them your own.

Creating a Signature Cocktail

When developing your creations, begin with a base spirit you enjoy, like vodka, rum, tequila, or whiskey. Next, choose flavour-boosting mixers: tart citrus, aromatic bitters, spicy ginger beer, floral elderflower liqueur, or herbaceous rosemary syrup. Leafy herbs, edible flowers, spices, and fresh juices enhance cocktail recipes.

If you need guidance, you can work with your bartender to create cocktails that tell your story. Consider flavours, colours, and garnishes that resonate with you and your partner, allude to a specific aspect of your relationship, or represent you somehow.

wedding cocktails drinks

Cocktail Ideas for Different Seasons and Themes

When crafting a bespoke cocktail, make sure to consider the season. Different times of year and locations might be better for specific ingredients or flavours. 

Spring and Summer: Light, refreshing cocktails with citrus and fruit flavours, like a classic mojito or a berry-infused spritzer, are perfect for warm-weather weddings.

Fall and Winter: Cozy and warm cocktails like mulled wine, spiced apple cider, or a bourbon-based drink can bring comfort and elegance to cold-weather celebrations.

Beach and Destination Weddings: Embrace tropical flavours with piña coladas, margaritas, or a beach-themed signature cocktail served in a coconut shell.

Vintage and Classic Themes: You can find inspiration with timeless cocktails like martinis, old-fashioned, or champagne-based drinks that evoke a sense of sophistication.

Non-Alcoholic Options for All Guests

Inclusivity and thoughtfulness should extend to every aspect of your wedding, including the drink menu. Offering a variety of non-alcoholic beverages ensures that all your guests, whether they don’t drink alcohol, are designated drivers, or prefer non-alcoholic options, feel welcomed and have something delightful to sip on throughout the celebration.

Creative Non-Alcoholic Mocktail Recipes

From virgin mojitos to alcohol-free mimosas, there are numerous creative mocktail recipes you can consider to cater to those who don’t drink alcohol. Here are some suggestions:

Virgin Mojito: A refreshing blend of muddled mint leaves, lime juice, and soda water, perfect for warm-weather weddings.

Fruit Punch: A colourful and fruity mix of various fruit juices and grenadine syrup, garnished with fresh fruit slices.

Sparkling Lemonade: Classic lemonade with a bubbly twist, made by adding sparkling water and garnished with lemon wedges.

Cucumber Cooler: Cucumber slices, elderflower syrup, and soda water are a crisp and hydrating combination.

Non-Alcoholic Mimosas: A delightful mixture of orange juice and sparkling water, reminiscent of the classic brunch cocktail.

wedding cocktail menu

Best Practices for Serving Non-Alcoholic Beverages

When designing your drink menu, make sure you take these tips into account:

Presentation: Ensure non-alcoholic drinks are served with the same care and attention as alcoholic beverages. Use attractive glassware with garnishes like cocktails to make them visually appealing.

Temperature: Ensure that non-alcoholic beverages are served at the appropriate temperature. Cold drinks should be refreshingly chilled, and warm options should be comforting.

Variety: Offer a variety of non-alcoholic choices, including options that align with your wedding theme and colours.

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Consider a Coffee Station

Consider adding a coffee station if you, your friends, or your family are coffee lovers. A coffee station equipped with an espresso machine or a coffee truck on hand isn’t a requirement but can be an enjoyable addition for anyone who doesn’t drink alcohol or who needs a boost of energy to continue the celebration.

Dealing with Special Dietary Restrictions

In today’s world, dietary preferences and allergies must be considered for any event. To make sure you cater to all your guests equally, make sure to consider the following.

wine drink for wedding

Addressing Dietary Preferences and Allergies

Request dietary information from your guests and work with your catering team to accommodate their needs.

Offering Vegan, Gluten-Free, and Other Specialty Drinks

Ensure that your beverage menu includes options for guests with dietary restrictions. This applies to wine, beer, and cocktail selection.

Bar Setup and Presentation

The bar area is a focal point of your wedding, and its design can enhance the overall aesthetic. Take these tips into account when you’re working on your bar setup:

Designing an Attractive and Functional Bar Area: Consider your bar area’s placement, size, and decor. It should be both visually appealing and efficient for bartenders.

Choosing Glassware and Table Settings: Select glassware and table settings that match your theme, style, and drink selection.

Incorporating Floral Arrangements and Decor: Flowers, greenery, and other decor elements can transform your bar area into a stunning focal point and help it blend with your chosen theme.

Tips on Responsible Alcohol Service and Safety

With alcohol at your wedding, responsible service is crucial. Make sure to consider the following points when planning drinks for your wedding:

Ensure Responsible Alcohol Consumption: Designate a responsible server or bartender to monitor guests’ alcohol intake and step in if needed.

Provide Transportation Options for Guests: Offer transportation alternatives for guests needing a safe ride home.

Handle Potential Alcohol-Related Incidents: Have a plan to address any alcohol-related incidents discreetly and professionally.

Legal Considerations for Serving Alcohol at Weddings: Familiarize yourself with local alcohol laws and regulations, ensuring you comply.

Raise a Glass to Your Drink Choices

The drinks you serve at your wedding are more than just refreshments; they are a part of your love story. Following the comprehensive guide outlined here, you’ll be well-prepared to make informed choices that align with your theme, style, and budget. 

Ultimately, your wedding day should reflect your unique love story and style. Don’t hesitate to let your creativity shine through in your drink choices, ensuring that every sip is a taste of your love. Cheers to your happily ever after!


Understanding Wedding Themes:

  • Different wedding styles and themes dictate different beverage options.
  • Traditional weddings lean towards classic drinks, while modern weddings explore creative options.

Choosing Wedding Beverages:

  • Set a clear budget for beverages, considering both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options.
  • Estimate drink quantities properly, and select a suitable bar service option.

Professional Bartending Services:

  • A professional bartender can elevate the drink experience and assist in creating a theme-coherent menu.

Wine Selections:

  • Proper wine pairing enhances the dining experience.
  • Consider budget-friendly and premium options, and consult with your caterer for optimal choices.

Diverse Beer Options:

  • Offering a range of beers, including craft, domestic, and international brews, caters to diverse preferences.
  • Presentation and alignment with food dishes are key.

Crafted Cocktails:

  • Signature cocktails are an opportunity to personalize the beverage menu.
  • Consider season and theme when crafting cocktails, and don’t shy away from infusing personal stories.

Non-Alcoholic Alternatives:

  • Inclusivity is important; offer a range of appealing and well-presented non-alcoholic options.
  • The variety and proper temperature are crucial.

Coffee Stations and Special Dietary Restrictions:

  • A coffee station is an excellent addition for coffee lovers and those needing an energy boost.
  • Consideration for guests with dietary restrictions is essential, including offering vegan and gluten-free drink options.

Bar Setup and Presentation:

  • The bar area design should align with the wedding theme and be functional.
  • Appropriate glassware, floral arrangements, and decor are important for aesthetics.

Responsible Alcohol Service and Safety:

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  • Ensuring responsible alcohol consumption is critical.
  • Offering transportation options and being aware of local alcohol laws is essential.

FAQ: Wedding Drinks

How do you figure out drinks for a wedding?

To figure out drinks for your wedding, start by deciding your budget and guest list to determine how many people you’ll cater to. Then, decide on your wedding theme and style, and choose the types of drinks that fit–formal or casual, summer or winter, indoor or outdoor. With that, you can start outlining your drink selection.

What kind of drinks do you serve at a wedding?

The kinds of drinks you serve at your wedding depend on your style and preference. To cater to all your guests, it’s best to offer various options, including wine, beer, cocktails, and non-alcoholic beverages.

What is the most common drink at a wedding?

Wine is typically the most popular wedding drink. Wine comes in several varieties and price points, making it an ideal choice for any wedding regardless of style or budget.

How many drinks do you need for a 100-person wedding?

A general rule of thumb is to plan for at least two drinks per guest for the first hour and one drink per guest for each subsequent hour. You can adjust this based on your guest list and the duration of your event.

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