My Guide To Buying Wedding Wines
The wedding day is the biggest day of a brides life generally. The stress, organisation and planning that goes into this day is beyond belief. However wines are often seen as an afterthought and this is one of the biggest errors in any wedding day.
So what are the reasons for wines being such a major issue and yet having such minor importance.
- Most wedding venues charge extortionate prices for their wines. They know they have got you by the balls and they will milk every last penny out of you. The wines are often poor quality as they look to buy the cheapest “acceptable” wine that won’t kill you before your honeymoon.
- The same venues charge crazy corkage charges in an attempt to stop any couple daring to bring their own wines. These charges are often £10-£20.00 per bottle!
- The happy couple are bogged down in the organisation, food choice, table plan, flowers and all the millions of other choices. This means that when the wines are finally discussed the budget has been spent and the only option left is to go with the cheapest wine available.
- There is such a mix of guests that the couple often go with the blandest wines on the menu in an attempt to please everyone.
- The couple rely on the wedding planner/venue to advise them on the wines. This leads to the venue recommending the best profit for them rather than the best wine for the guests.
So what solutions and guide can I offer to would be brides and grooms for their wedding day.
Here are my top 10 tips
- The first is to negotiate hard before any contracts are signed. Many wedding venues know that once you are in a contract they can practically do what they want and charge what they want. A great example of this is a £15.00 a bottle corkage charge for wines, but this increases to £20 a bottle for Prosecco or Sparkling wines and £25.00 a bottle for Champagnes. So get the important negotiations in early and drive them hard. If the venue insists on a corkage charge then drive the costs down. Mention the other choices of venue you have and say that they have halved their corkage charge.
- Buy large format bottles to cover the corkage charge. For example if the venue charge £10.00 a bottle then buy a Magnum or a Jereboam or an even larger bottle of wine. Do the same with Champagnes as these are often available in bottle sizes up to 20 bottle (Nebuchadnezzar ).
- Get a good online wine merchant to advise on the choice of wines to match the food. Wineman.co.uk offers an exceptional service for this.
- If you absolutely have to buy wines from the venue then invest a little cash and buy the wines before the day to taste and see if they are ok. DON’T buy the tasting wines from the venue. investigate online first as you will often find them at a retail price for a much lesser price. Failing that insist the venue allow you to try the wines with the food and not charge you as it should be part of their service.
- Pop across to France and buy wines there to save on the duty and VAT element which can go a long way to reducing costs. There is the cost of travelling to France and cost of petrol to consider with this so do your maths first. Pick out 12 wines that you like the look, price and sound of. Open them all with some lunch outside the shop and go back and buy lots of what you like.
- Get a local wine merchant or online wine merchant to give you the wines at a reduced price in exchange for heavy promotion of their website through wedding favours, business cards, mentions in the speech etc. REMEMBER there needs to be a lot of promotion for the merchant otherwise they will not be a happy bunny.
- See if there is any sort of reciprocal deal you can do with the venue. For example if you work at a large company who regularly host big meetings or Christmas Parties set up a meeting to secure the company do there at a later date in exchange for free corkage. See if you can work some weekends at other peoples weddings for free to remove the fee. Staffing is a huge cost for venues and they will often go for this. It also will give you a few ideas for your own big day.
- Remember the corkage is there to cover the profit they would normally make in selling you a bottle of wine. This profit covers staff, electric, business rates, and a million other small costs that need to be figured into the overall cost of a bottle to you. Most venues will be making between £8-£12 on a bottle of house wine so offer 50% of that and see if they will be open to negotiation. If you let them know that you understand corkage and profit but you are having to cut costs then they will often listen.
- Get your parents to pay for the wines! Cheeky I know but this also leverages their knowledge of wine merchants and favours to call in from friends who may be in the trade. They can also negotiate much harder as they are not directly involved.
- Get the guests to make a contribution instead of wedding gifts. This is a great way for guests to contribute towards their own pleasure. So many couples live together these days and wedding lists are rare.
So there you have it, my top 10 tips for buying wedding wines. Give some of your own tips in the comments section but be cool like Fonzie and don’t post anything nasty.