Ask Jenny – Booze Issues.

Dear Jenny,

My father and his partner very kindly offered to host our wedding reception in their back garden. They agreed to pay for the marquee, food and booze which was amazingly kind of them. We were going to have our reception in a hotel where, after the meal, we would have had a pay bar – free booze for 80 guests over 7 hours is not in our budget!

However, I am a bit worried that my father has underestimated the amount of wine we will need. I have worked out that there is 2.5 glasses each of Prosecco for the first two hours and I have removed non-drinkers from that equation. I don’t know how much wine he has bought and I don’t know how to broach the subject. More booze is out of our budget but we will buy some more if we have to rather than running out on our special day and in a venue that is in the middle of nowhere!

How do I go about sorting this out without offence being caused?

Mimi x


Hi Mimi,

I love a back garden wedding! How generous of your Dad to host too, it sounds as though you are feeling a little anxious about the whole thing so you need to find the strength to be diplomatic, and approach him to discuss the finer details.

You can use this opportunity to be assertive, mature, and build on your relationship with your Father. He is doing a very generous thing by hosting and taking the heat financially off of you guys, but there is an element of relinquishing control that most Brides to be find challenging. And rightly so, your nearest and dearest will be there celebrating with you so its understandable you don’t want to run out of drink, or toilet paper for that matter!

How much has he involved you in things so far? Surely the vendors providing the food and booze will have given him a good guide on what will be consumed? Will there be a bar provided by the marquee or food vendors? I think for the sake of your sanity, you need to suggest you get together and discuss the finer details. You will need to decide on a menu at some point, and you can work the booze into the conversation that way. Make sure he knows that in no way do you want to offend him, but that you are worried about running out of booze. I believe honesty is the best policy, as long as you approach the subject with respect and love then how could he possibly be offended? It’s hard to plan a wedding, with so much to consider and organise, I think you perhaps need some reassurance from him that he’s got it all under control, which I’m sure he has, it’s a big event afterall!

Be brave and talk to him. Just explain how certain aspects of this wedding planning malarky has you feeling a little frazzled and you want to get a grip on everything, just for peace of mind. It’s like ripping of a band aid, once you have done it you will feel better! And it will mean you can focus on other things, and start to really look forward to your wedding!

Wishing you the very best of luck,


Jenny x





Author: Jenny

13 thoughts on “Ask Jenny – Booze Issues.

  1. You could always speak to a local wine seller or supermarket and see if they’d be able to sort you out with a “drink or return” deal. Most wine store chains and I know morrisons do glasses hire too. x

  2. Such a minefield when others are doing things for the wedding. The generosity is often overwhelming and really welcome, but it’s hard to feel the loss of control!

    Great advice Jenny!

    Another way to make sure booze doesnt run out is to suggest to him that, to ease the financial burden on him, he could perhaps introduce a cash bar after a certain amount of time. That way, if the free booze runs out, the caterers will have provided enough stock to keep the party rocking. x

  3. We had a similar wedding last month, with the same stresses! We couldn’t afford to buy too much drink so our solution was to make it ‘bring your own’ we supplied prosecco for reception drinks and the toast, and wine for the meal (2x white 1x red per table). At first I was panicking that my family and friends would see this as a bit ‘cheap’ but actually it meant that everyone got to drink exactly what they wanted to and there was plenty, we had huge flower pots filled with ice that everyone dumped their drink in on arrival. Remember that if you did have a pay bar people would be spending far more than bringing a bottle of wine or 2, most people at our wedding loved the idea! I know it’s not for everybody but it might work for you too. Try not to stress, honestly on the day you won’t care less, put someone else in charge of monitoring the booze level, your job is to relax and enjoy it!! xx

  4. Great advice Jenny, and some brilliant comments already, too – two of whom have said exactly what I was going to say! a) shop around for a drinks supplier that provides drink on a sale or return basis – we use and recommend a certain wine warehouse a lot as they not only do S&R but will deliver all the drink to your venue. b) just because it’s a marquee wedding at home, you can still have a cash bar – either your caterers can do this for you, or we work frequently with a mobile bar company who will bring in everything – bar, fridges, pumps etc, and because they do this all the time, they can have massive stock levels so you’ve no danger of running out of anything.

    If you can go armed with these two pieces of information, you can approach the conversation from the angle of trying to help your dad not overspend.

    Good luck and hope the day goes really well for you.

  5. BYO is an ace idea for later – we’re going to a wedding in a swanky hotel later this month and am imagining the prices at the bar will be obsene, so as we are staying there we are going to sneak some booze into the room! I reckon most people would think was a great idea – just supply ice and glasses or even plastic cups! Or as Karen says, as it’s at home couldn’t you get down the cash and carry and get a selection of popular stuff and then charge people a couple of quid a drink, which would cover the cost and mean guests get a cheap drink too? (am assuming you could also get the caterers to serve it without them charging squillions!).

    But as Vix says, I’m sure your Dad wouldn’t be upset if you asked him to sit down and go through it with you, he probably realises as the bride it’s hard relinquishing the details of any part of it!

    Good luck! xx

  6. Your wedding sounds glorious, I love a back garden wedding! I’ve been to one which was bring a bottle and no one minded at all and it was excellent fun. As with you the couple did provide booze, but everyone bringing just a bottle each ensured that there was more than enough for the entire night with some left over even. I think it was more to do with them then not worrying about running out, as again it was in the middle of no where.

  7. Two words:

    Booze Cruise.

    Whatever happens in the conversation you need to have with your father, I strongly suggest this as the way forward.

    We went to France and it was so much cheaper than buying the booze here. We have bought very decent Pinot Grigio for £3 a bottle, Beaujolais for £4 and Montepulciano for £3 from Calais Wine Superstore (does what it says on the tin).

    We skipped the spirits, and went to Sainsburys and found boxes of 20 bottles of Becks for £10. These savings meant that we could afford to get a keg of real ale from a local brewery too. Done deal!

    Good luck with your dad – don’t be scared, he wouldn’t have offered had he not thought he would be able to cope with it. :o)


  8. There are a couple of options I would suggest…
    a) as others have said buy your booze on a sale & return options & then to stop it costing you/your dad too much money charge guest £1 or £2 per drink
    My grandparents recently had a huge family party & got all their booze from a well known cash & carry store. this meant they could get some spirits as well as all the usual wine & been and any bottles that hadn’t been opened went back & they got their money back for them

    b) hire a mobile bar for the night – they will look after all the glasses, serve your guest and clear away dirty glasses. This does mean your guests will be paying a little more for drinks but nowadays I think guests understand the cost of weddings & are happen to buy their own drinks.

    One word of warning about the mobile bar option – my brother had one for his village hall wedding & he lost the deposit as the guests did not spend enough to meet the required minimum spend (mainly because they provided the guests with plenty of french wine!)

    Good luck, I’m sure it will be fine & your dad will understand xx

  9. Hi Mimi,

    I’m still basking in the after-glow of our wedding last Saturday – and it’s interesting for me to remember that exactly this time last week I was freaking out about glasses, running out of booze and all kinds!

    The advice given is fab – you have a lot of potential choices/pathways to take. However, for us, one of the most important things was to offer a free bar – it was just one of those things that we felt that we wanted to offer – our guests were making long journeys and as it was the beginning of the Olympics it was an unknown situation….so having a few drinks on us was the least we could do! We over-bought and have loads left – our caterers were BRILLIANT at sorting it all out – and as my brother has links with the trade, he was able to take back some of what we didn’t use. But we had the same anxieties…

    Not sure if I’ve helped – quite possibly not – but I guess thinking practically from the ‘other side’ I would think the BYO idea sounds cool and fits the ‘vibe’ of a gorgeous back garden wedding!!

    Have fun!

    A xx

  10. My friend bought her wedding wine from Majestic and they had an agreement that any unopened cases could be returned and refunded – thought that might be helpful!

  11. What amazing wonderful kind ladies you are!

    Thank you so much for all your help and advice – you have made me feel clearer and much calmer.

    A free bar is important to us so I think sale or return is the way to go and I will broach the subject with my Pa sooner rather than later.

    Have wonderful weekends 🙂

  12. My sister did the marquee wedding recently and had free booze in the afternoon and then a cash bar sorted on a sale or return basis with local wine guy and tesco (no i didnt know they would do that either) which was absolutely fine. the prices covered the alcohol consumed and the required licence and everyone still had a great time. good luck!!

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