A guide to creating the perfect drinks menu for a privately catered wedding

Published by Claire Gould on

Header image credits: Photography: https://www.barbaramarkiewiczphotography.com/, styling: https://www.wonderfulevents.co.uk/, Tableware: https://www.eventcrockeryhire.co.uk/

Planning your big day involves a lot of considerations, but have you thought about the drinks menu? Here, Steve King, Managing Director at Bottled & Boxed, shows you how to design the perfect drinks menu for a memorable wedding.

Planning a wedding involves so many elements, especially when it comes to food and drink. Many wedding venues will provide catering packages as part of the deal, which can take most of the organisation off your hands. However, if you’ve decided to go for a slightly more unconventional celebration — such as a barn, beach, or festival-style wedding — then it’s likely that you’ll need to sort the catering options yourself.

While this does mean a bit more work and planning, it also gives you the freedom to create a drinks menu that is perfectly suited to the décor and theme of your wedding. Plus, it can be quite an enjoyable process, especially if you’re an avid wine or cocktail connoisseur and want to make sure that every drink served at your wedding is just right.

Here, I’ll be sharing my top tips to help you create the perfect drinks menu for a privately catered wedding, whether you’re tying the knot in a barn, on a farm, or even in your own garden.

Perfect pairings

Deciding on drinks to match with the food you’re providing is a great way to ensure that your drinks menu is an enjoyable part of the event. Whether you’ve decided on a dinnertime meal, lunch, or afternoon tea selection, you can choose beverages that pair perfectly with the dishes. 

If you’re unsure of how to match alcohol to food, here are some quick tips:

  • Acidic drinks work well with rich food and seafood. Pair creamy sauces and fish dishes with citrus drinks like a mojito, daiquiri, or greyhound, or a wine like a pinot grigio.
  • Sweet drinks complement both sweet and spicy food. A chenin blanc or a lemon drop are great choices here.
  • Tannin-heavy drinks pair well with fatty foods like duck and steak. So, red wines, pomegranate cocktails, and drinks including cranberry juice can all taste great here. This is because the bitterness of tannins goes excellently with fattier food.

Photographer: Amanda Karen Photography, Location: Flint Vineyard, Styling and Coordination: Emily Andrew Events, Crockery, Cutlery and glassware: CMA

Choose a theme

The theme of your wedding can be reflected in the theme of your drinks menu. Choosing sophisticated wines and cocktails can be a great way to continue the theme and atmosphere of your wedding. If you have settled on a summer theme, try designing a cocktail menu that includes floral notes and fruit juices. If you’re hosting the event in a countryside setting, you can even source fruit for the juice and garnishes locally, and use fruits like blackberries, red currants, raspberries, and apples that are part of the landscape.

If you are holding a seaside wedding, classic beach drinks like Mai Tais are good choices, but you can also design cocktails that include things like sea salt and warming spirits to evoke the British seaside more. You can try adapting wine to your theme by using local wineries and choosing floral tones for a summer wedding, and warming tannin-heavy flavours for a winter event.

Decide when drinks are served

Photography credit: Sally Rawlins – https://www.sallyrawlinsphotography.com/ at Compasses at Pattiswick – https://compassespattiswick.co.uk/. Catering by Valentine Cuisine – http://www.valentinecuisine.com/

Once you’ve worked out what types of drinks you’ll want to serve, it’s time to decide what order everything will be served in. Usually, people will hold a drinks reception with light cocktails, and then later there will be drinks served alongside the meal. Following this, you’ll usually need drinks that people will consume throughout the evening or at a wedding party.

Your reception or welcome drinks should be light and fit with the season or theme of the wedding. A classic choice for a summer event is Pimm’s, whereas a winter wedding might better suit a hot toddy or hot apple cider. Then, use the tips above to pair your drinks with the food, plan a few different beverages to be served throughout the meal (for starters, mains, and desserts), and then consider cocktails and higher-alcohol drinks for the party.

Cater to everyone

While you’ll primarily be planning alcoholic beverages, it’s important to consider that there will be people who don’t drink at your event. So, consider putting some non-alcoholic cocktails on the menu, and some simpler drinks like fruit juices and soft drinks for the kids. You might also think about decorating drinks, such as adding cocktail umbrellas to kids’ fruit juice mixes to make them more fun.

Then, if you know that you have quite a few family members or friends coming to your wedding who enjoy cider or beer, consider having a special one brought in for them. Being able to cater for everyone at your wedding will make it much more enjoyable and relaxing on the day.

Photography credit: https://artisanxphotography.co.uk/


Lastly, add some personal touches to your drinks menu. You might want to design your own cocktails and name them, or create just one special cocktail for your big day — you can even make recipe cards and give them out so people can make it themselves later. Personalisation can also involve colour schemes, which you could create with fruit juices and food colourings like blue pea flowers and hibiscus. Or, you can get even more creative and print images on drinks, such as memories of you and your fiancé together, or photos of you and your family members.

Planning a wedding can be very overwhelming, especially if you’re holding a barn, festival, or at-home wedding using private caterers. But with these tips, you can create the perfect drinks menu much more easily. By choosing drinks to pair with the food, catering to all your guests, and including some personalised elements, you can be sure of an enjoyable drinks experience on your big day.

Image credits: Photographer: Sarah Vivienne Photography, Stylist: Vivienne May Weddings, Tableware: Nerissa Eve Weddings

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.


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