Wedding reception drinks

The object of your reception is to celebrate your wedding. If cocktails are to be a part of your reception, brides-to-be have many suitable choices to ensure proper protocol and safe usage.

At many weddings, cocktails are an integral part of the fun. Traditionally, glasses are hoisted in toasts to wish brides and grooms a long and prosperous marriage. And there are other formal moments during the reception that are attended with alcoholic beverages.

Drinks are served at pre-dinner gatherings and serve as an ice-breaker so guests can be introduced and families can become acquainted. Dinners are often complemented with a variety of wines or beers. Cake cuttings are ceremoniously embellished with the bride and groom sipping champagne through intertwined arms. And the entertainment phase of receptions is generally ushered in with cocktails, music and dancing.

Today’s brides and grooms must decide which phases of the reception should be accompanied by spirits, and which assortments. And they should develop a plan with their food and beverage caterer to manage and implement these aspects of the party. After deciding on the structure, budget is the next consideration. Catering managers generally offer a variety of budgeted packages.

CATERING managers generally offer a variety of budgeted PACKAGES.

But there’s quite a contrast between merely being Typical cocktail party arrangements include:

The fully “hosted open bar” which can include any selections or brands of beer, wine or liquor. These are paid for by the wedding couple or parents. Rates can be set on an hourly basis, per-person basis or a volume consumption basis.

A “per-drink bar” where guests are allotted a set number drinks at a predetermined budget, after which the bar either closes or guests become responsible for costs.

A “cash bar” where all cocktails are paid for in cash by individual guests.

A split combination where a set number of beer kegs or bottles of wine are provided by the parents or wedding couple, and mixed or exotic drinks are available at a remote cash bar.

“There are many different ways we can apply a cocktail budget,” said Laverne Youmans, director of catering for the Orlando North Hilton in Altamonte Springs. “If budgets are tight, I suggest beer and wine on a hosted bar, and couples can give me a limit on beer kegs and the number of bottles of wine they want to be responsible for.”

Youmans said her hosted-bar packages are broken into one-, two- and four-hour segments. The hourly packages are generally more economical than the volume consumption plans, she said.

“I sometimes recommend starting with a clear champagne punch and butler-served wine for the first hour,” Youmans said. “After the festivities begin, couples can then start with the open bar or cash bar.”

Bridal couples will need to decide whether to have a pre-dinner cocktail hour, what to serve in the way of wine or spirits during the dinner segment of the reception and how the party and entertainment phase should be handled.

Some brides will want an open, hosted bar with beer, wine and liquor varieties available for a formal or poolside cocktail hour. But then they close the open bar when the plated dinner or buffet begins. Having wine, beer or mixes served during the meal is optional.

And many couples continue the wine and beer service into the dancing and party, but shift expensive mixed drinks and liqueurs to a cash bar. Any combination of alcoholic beverage services is appropriate.

Wedding reception drinks Wedding reception drinksMarie Barattucci, catering manager for the Radisson Resort Parkway in Kissimmee, Fla., said she caters weddings where there is a cash bar, and wedding couples will supply the champagne toast and perhaps a beer keg.

“We have the wedding couple make their own choices,” Barattucci said. “They can have their cocktails hosted for an hour, and then have the bar become cash if they like. There is a large variety of bar packages open to them.”

Frequently, parents and brides will choose to provide beer and wine selections, and make mixed drinks a cash bar item, Barattucci said.

If wine is to be served during the dinner, it is popular to serve a single brand of Zinfandel. A less expensive mid-range option for dinner wine might be open carafes of a rosé variety.

For formal plated dinners, where double entrées like steak and lobster are served, a white Chablis, Chardonnay or Rhine wine can be served along with a red Bordeaux selection. One bottle of each is generally placed at each table. And after-dinner drinks also are popular at some weddings.

“I have wedding couples who want guests to have an after dinner drink, and we will serve the cognacs, brandies or liqueurs,” Barattucci said. “We also have our Silver Coffee Service. These are the Irish Creams or Amaretto-flavored coffees.”

The Holiday Inn International Drive Resort in Orlando is a popular reception location, and Gene Ott, its catering sales manager, said that brides and grooms frequently want a mixture of open and cash bars at their receptions.

“Wedding couples are using open bars and cash bars in conjunction with each other. They go with the open bar for a few hours and then switch to cash,” Ott said. “We do much more beer and wine than the hard liquors.

“We have a grand foyer area where we do hors d’oeuvres and a champagne punch while waiting for the bride and groom, and then we move the beverage service inside. The bar is generally closed for dinner, but we do a toast for everyone, and we give the bride and groom a bottle of champagne at their table.”

Ott said they offer several selections of bottled beer, as opposed to kegs, so guests can have their choice of brands. Ott usually offers three domestic brands and two imported selections at their open and cash bars. He said they generally charge one set price for all beer and wine brands.

“After dinner we offer several flavors of cordials and brandies. A Viennese table or a cordial cart with cigars is becoming very popular,” Ott said.

One of the attractions of holding wedding receptions at hotel facilities is that guests who drink will often have rooms booked at the same location.

Julie Barra, catering coordinator for the Renaissance Orlando Hotel-Airport, said that wedding parties and guests frequently stay at the hotel after a wedding reception.

“We’re an airport property, so we get a lot of overnight guests from weddings,” Barra said. “Many are out-of-town relatives, and even local guests will stay with us after the wedding so they don’t have to worry about driving.”

Wedding parties have special discounted rates, and brides and grooms get a complimentary suite. Barra said that guests can enjoy the party and have a worry-free wedding celebration with cocktails.

“Our most popular and cost-effective cocktail program for weddings is for the bride and groom to book the cocktail service on a per-person, per-hour basis,” Barra said.”