Etiquette 101: Signature Drinks

Hilary asks:

My question is about alcohol at the reception. We plan on serving four seasonal signature drinks at our wedding. Our wedding is around Christmas, so we wanted to serve more classic, vintage style punches and champagne cocktails. Our ideas include pomegranate sangria, peach bellinis, hot rum punch, and cranberry champagne cocktail). My father insists we serve beer, and claims that it is “rude” not to serve it. Is beer expected or will our signature drinks suffice?

Hilary, your signature drinks sound absolutely wonderful!  Can we come to your wedding?  :)  To answer your question, it is never in bad taste to serve any combination of alcohol.  You’re free to not have a full bar, to have only signature drinks, to serve only beer and wine, or even not to serve alcohol at all!  A compromise for your father might be substituting one beer option for one of your signature drinks.

In fact, the only etiquette that applies to alcohol is the cash bar issue (which I know you did not ask about but we’ll address here).  Cash bars are absolutely a no-no.  You would never ask a guest to pay for a glass of wine in your own home – weddings are no different.  If budget is an issue, serving a limited bar or using Hilary’s signature drink strategy is a great way to mitigate costs.

Also, a tip for all of you when venue- and caterer-hunting.  One of the best questions you can ask during your meeting is whether or not you are allowed to bring in your own alcohol.  Many vendors now allow this and it’s such a cost-saver!  Not only can you purchase the alcohol from your local beverage store, but many alcohol retailers will also allow you to return unopened bottles (ask before buying).

Hilary, I hope this helps!