A Guide to Organising Low Cost Wine and Drinks for Your Wedding, by the Uncrafty Bride on a Budget

Photo by Tracy Morter

For us, one of the key aspects of our low-cost, DIY wedding was that, wherever possible, it should be low cost for our guests, too.  I read a few scary stories online about couples who had got freebie weddings by getting loved ones to pay £150 per night for three nights in a country house, then had an extortionately priced bar with no free drinks for guests, costing guests around a grand for the whole thing while costing the hosts very little – that kind of thing.  We didn’t want that.

We did, however, want to see our guests properly ‘watered’.  A disappointing scenario for the kind of party we wanted to throw would have been for the booze to run out mid-wedding.  Here’s how guests ended up going home with wine in their trunks and cool bags, instead.  (Clue: it does have to do with our friends and family being utterly lovely.)

1. Decide what you want to provide as a host

We knew that we wanted to provide guests with a glass of fizz at the Town Hall after the ceremony, as well as fizz on arrival at the reception venue.  We also knew that we wanted to provide enough wine to go with the meal.  We wanted there to be tasty options for friends who are teetotal, do not drink for religious reasons or were driving.

2. Decide on a budget

If you’re going to start married life on an even keel financially, you need to decide on a budget and stick to it.  We knew that we could budget around £6 per bottle of fizz, £5 per bottle of wine and £3 per non-alcoholic toasting fizz, in order to cater for half a bottle of fizz per adult, and between half a bottle and a full bottle of wine per adult.  You may find a wine calculator useful – you will also know your guests and their preferences and limits.

3. Decide on your search terms

Most weddings we have been to have had perfectly acceptable wine.  Neither of us could remember any outstanding wines, from weddings we had been guests at.  However, nor could we remember any disappointing wines.  We couldn’t recall any bold choices.  For us, the perfect wedding wine had to be ‘inoffensive’ and ‘perfectly quaffable’.

It turned out, we were particularly pleased with both the prosecco and white wines we chose – Aldi’s famously good value Belletti Prosecco and their delicious Chardonnay.  These wines got really good feedback from our guests and we wished we had bought more of the white as, unusually (and in spite of us buying more that we calculated we needed), it was the white that ran out towards the end of the meal.  However, in spite of our enthusiasm for it —  we call Aldi’s Pinot Noir our ‘house wine’ — the red was more hit and miss, although that may have been due to the heat of the day and sod’s law, as that was the wine we had bought a bigger surplus of as we’re used to people hunting red wine at a party!

We also decided that, due to the quantity we were buying, the wines needed to have as small a carbon footprint as possible for our budget, so we went for European wines (French and Italian, in the end) so they didn’t have to travel too far.

4. Do your research 

Aldi and Majestic do mixed cases of wines, so you can get willing friends and family involved in trying out different options in the run up to your wedding. You don’t have to get a pre-mixed case from Aldi – as long as you order in multiples of six, you can mix and match as you see fit.

For the non-alcoholic options, supermarkets offering deliveries often have deals in the summer months.  It’s good to have a range of options, if possible, such as elderflower and fruit presses (sparkling drinks) as well as the more typical Schloer.

5. Instead of a paying bar, have a bring and share bar 

This is where our guests’ loveliness came into it.  We had a bring and share bar, which was unstaffed.  Friends and family brought whatever they wanted and added it to the large, sheltered table outdoors, then helped themselves as the day went by.  We provided these non-plastic, biodegrable, Magritte-ish cups, some reusable beakers from the pound shop that we donated to the venue afterwards, some mixers and a couple of huge ice buckets, which Tenterden Majestic very kindly assisted us with.

This is, of course, a really cost effective option for guests, too.

 

Around the bring and share bar. Photo by www.tracymorter.com

6.   Get the ale drinkers together 

My husband, inspired by another friend’s wedding, started a ‘Real Ale Fund’, where all the ale drinkers contributed to have boxes (like small kegs) of local bright beer delivered.  He worked out that for £10 a head, there would be enough for everyone to have plenty of pints… then got the fear as that sounded far too reasonable, and doubled the amount.  It turned out that there was a little under half the amount left over the next day, and a couple of people went home with ale sloshing about in their car boots! So a tenner a head would be feasible.

7. Have unlimited tea, coffee, squash and water available, as well as bar snacks 

We may come from two big Irish families, but cliches are exactly that.  Thanks to our venue, guests were able to help themselves to tea, coffee, herbal teas and squash all day (which I bought in with a big supermarket delivery on the Friday we arrived).  We put tins of typical English biscuits with the tea, and large boxes of pub snacks on the bar.

8. Know your supermarkets

According to a recent study (ahem), Lidl and Aldi have the best wines.  We also rate the fairtrade range by co-op, although they don’t do delivery.  Our back up in case Aldi had any problems delivering was the beautifully-designed Majestic Loves range.  The label designs are just perfect for a celebration.

 

Cheers! Slainte! Salut! Chai yo!