Having a range of tasty tipples on offer at your wedding will make the night exponentially more fun. But if we’re being realistic, not many brides and grooms can afford to have an open bar. While open bar weddings may be brilliant for your guests, the cost of supplying all-you-can-drink alcohol for everyone in attendance is simply too high for most people.
Then again, perhaps you don’t like the idea of making everyone pay for all of their own drinks on your big day. Perhaps it seems a little cheap or stingy to you.
If that’s the case, a great alternative is to use wedding drink tokens. A drink token is essentially like a ticket that allows each guest to claim a free drink of their choice at your wedding reception. Today, we’re going to discuss what drink tokens are, why they’re a good idea, and some tips on how best to use them.
What Are Wedding Drink Tokens?
Drink tokens are fast becoming popular at weddings across the UK. Unlike in the US, it isn’t very common here for weddings to have open bars, where all the drinks are paid for by the bride and groom (or whoever’s hosting the wedding). But many newlyweds would like to at least offer their guests one or two drinks “on the house”, to say thank you for celebrating with them.
In that way, wedding drink tokens can be used like wedding favours. Each guest can exchange a token at the bar for a drink of their choice – either alcoholic or non-alcoholic, depending on their preference (and age).
The great thing about a drink token is that it allows the guest to make their own choice about what to drink, rather than being strictly limited to whatever you place on the table during dinner (usually wine or champagne, which not everyone likes). If your guests want to keep drinking after they’ve used up their token(s), they’re free to buy their own.
How Do Wedding Drink Tokens Work?
The most important thing to remember is that you have to speak to your venue first, and explain that you plan to use drink tokens. You’ll only be able to use them if your venue’s bar has the capability of setting up a tab, so they can keep track of what drinks have been consumed.
How it works is as follows:
1. Before your guests arrive, the bar sets up a tab, to keep track of all the guests’ drinks.
2. When each guest approaches the bar, they can exchange one token for a drink of their choice.
3. The bar staff will take the token (so the guest can’t use it twice), and put the chosen drink onto the tab.
4. At the end of the night, when all the tokens have been used, you can go and settle the tab.
The venue may add the final value of the tab to your overall wedding bill, or they may want you to pay for it separately. Whichever the case, don’t forget to leave a tip for the bartenders!
What Are the Benefits to Using Drink Tokens at Your Wedding?
There are many reasons why it’s a good idea to have drink tokens at your wedding.
1. You’ll Save Money
Let’s face it: unless you have an unlimited budget, going for an open bar could easily mean spending more than what you initially planned for on drinks—and the costs could pile up before you even know it.
But when you have a drink token, it’s easier for you to control the costs of your drinks because you’re only offering a specific amount and type of drinks to guests.
2. Help Prevent Guests from Overindulging
Even if you can afford to supply unlimited booze to your guests all night long, it’s not uncommon for some guests to have too much to drink at open-bar weddings. They’re not paying for their own drinks, so they have a tendency to take full advantage – which can result in illness or even injury, and you don’t want that.
With drink tokens, you can allow your guests to enjoy some free booze without being too intoxicated. They can still pay for further drinks if they want to, but they’re less likely to overindulge if it’s coming out of their own bank account.
3. Offer a Wider Variety of Beverages
The classic way for brides and grooms to offer their guests a free tipple is by placing bottles of wine or champagne on the tables at dinner. Unfortunately, this isn’t really fair to people who can’t drink (because they’re underage, pregnant, or on medication), don’t enjoy these particular beverages, or simply don’t want to drink alcohol.
Drink tokens, on the other hand, will allow your guests to choose their favourite drink – be it wine, a cocktail, beer or even a glass of orange juice and lemonade.
4. Each Guest Gets Their Fair Share
The alternative to using drink tokens is to set up a pre-paid tab with a certain value (say, £500 or £1000) that your guests can use to purchase drinks throughout the night. Once the money is gone, it’s gone, and any further drinks will have to be paid for individually.
Drink tokens have a distinct advantage here, because they ensure that each guest gets their fair share of drinks (whether that’s one each, two each or three each, depending on how many tokens you give), rather than certain greedy guests single-handedly running down the tab while the slower drinkers are left in the dust.
How and When Do You Hand Out Drink Tokens at a Wedding?
There are several different options for when and where to hand out your wedding drink tokens. For example:
1) Give the drink tokens to your ushers to keep hold of, and station your ushers at the door of your reception venue. As each guest enters, have the ushers hand them a drink token.
2) Hand out the drink tokens during your wedding breakfast, on the dining tables. Present the drink tokens in a wedding favour box or bag in each guest’s place setting.
3) Place the drink tickets on a table in your reception venue and have your guests help themselves, perhaps with a peg board sign saying “please take one each”. (This only works if you absolutely trust all of your guests not to take more than their fair share.)
You could also send drink tokens out with your wedding invitations. However, we wouldn’t recommend this option, as not everyone who gets an invitation will actually come to your wedding – and those that do may lose or forget to bring them.
Top Tips for Using Wedding Drink Tokens
If you decide on giving out drink tokens at your wedding, here are some tips to take into consideration.
Specify Which Drinks are Eligible
To get started with your drink tokens, you need to choose the types of drinks that they can be redeemed for. We wouldn’t recommend letting your guests choose any drink they want.
Avoid multi-alcohol drinks, shots and stronger cocktails that will not only easily intoxicate your guests but also cost you more than what you’re willing to spend, especially if you have a huge wedding guest list.
Arrange with the bar staff beforehand a pre-determined list of beers, ciders, wines and mixed drinks that the drink tokens can be used for. Don’t feel that you have to serve very expensive liqueurs just to impress your guests. A lot of mid-shelf drinks actually taste just as good as the pricier ones.
Hand Out the Tokens Equally
If you’re going to give out drink tokens to guests, make sure that you give each person the same number of tokens to avoid anyone getting upset or confused about why others are enjoying more drinks than them. It doesn’t matter how many tokens each guest gets, as long as they’re evenly distributed. Your wedding should be a time for celebration, not favouritism.
Don’t forget the kids! Children and teenagers in attendance can exchange their drink tokens for thinks like coke, cordial and orange juice. Just make sure to warn the bar staff that some guests are underage, so that they’ll be vigilant about checking IDs.
Buy Your Drink Tokens from a Reputable Wedding Supplier
At the end of the day, giving out drink tokens is a creative way to give your guests a token of your appreciation without going overboard with the booze. Drink tokens are a cost-effective way to still give your guests an amazing experience that they’ll surely remember for years to come, all while keeping your costs under control.
But don’t ruin it by giving your guests low-quality or homemade drink tokens that will look cheap and could ruin your wedding aesthetic. Choose professionally printed drink tokens from a reputable wedding supplier such as Bride and Groom Direct.
For example, these beautiful Geo Blush Drink Tokens look beautifully elegant, printed in a rose gold font that will fit seamlessly in with your wedding décor. We’d also recommend investing in some dainty organza wedding favour bags – both as a way of presenting your tokens beautifully to your guests, and also giving guests a place to keep them until they’re ready to use them!