Champagne is the way to celebrate, and us Brits love the stuff!
Many people may want a big name Champagne for their wedding, but it can be a luxury that few can afford. Here are some hints and tips on keeping the cost down, without compromising your big day.
Things to Consider
You should take into account how often your guests might see the bottle. The toast could be the place you use a well known Champagne, as guests are seated and see glasses being filled.
You are also only likely to need one glass per person. Each bottle has enough for six Champagne flutes. So for 70 guests you would only need twelve bottles of Champagne.
Luckily if you like a Champagne lifestyle but don’t quite have the cash for it, you can make huge savings buying your Champagne in Calais. Most of the big names have over £10 a bottle savings on the UK supermarket price.
Find out more about different styles of champagne and its terminology in our Champagne Guide.
Lesser known Champagnes can deliver great value
If the well-known brands are a little out of your price range some of the lesser-known houses are well worth considering. You can even get some vintage Champagne for less than you would pay for well-known Champagne.
Again at Calais you can save a significant amount of money, with Champagne prices starting from as low as £8.99 (what you can pay for an average Prosecco in the UK).
So whether you choose a well-known name or a great value Champagne at least if you buy in Calais you can afford Champagne at your wedding!
How many bottles to buy?
This is a tricky one and relies as much on you knowing your guests as theory!
You can get 6 standard flutes to one bottle or 12 standard flutes to a magnum.
A lot depends on whether you are having the same Champagne for welcome drinks and the toast.
For the Toast:
You should allow for every guest to have at least one glass each. So simply divide the number of guests by 6 and this should give you the minimum amount required. We would recommend then rounding up to the closest 6.
100 guests = 18 bottles
100 / 6 = 16.6 bottles.
Round up to 18 bottles
The Welcome Drinks
Take into account how long this lasts for and if there is a bar, where the bigger drinkers can buy more drinks if they want.
It also depends on if you are having cocktails or not, because if you are using another drink to add, it decreases the amount of Champagne you need.
Allow at least 2 Champagne flutes per person.
So for 100 guests with a short Champagne reception you should allow 36 bottles.
Does size matter?
It has to be said that a magnum of Champagne certainly looks impressive! A magnum is a double bottle, so 150cl of Champagne. You can get 12 flutes per magnum.
As well as looking awesome there is another reason to consider buying magnums. Many venues which offer corkage do it on a per bottle basis, regardless of the size of the bottle! So if you can cut down the corkage bill by half, it is worth buying in Magnums. We would recommend checking with your venue before ordering, as some venues have wised up to this and charge a higher rate for magnums.
See our range of Magnum Champagnes >
Does it have to be Champagne?
Of course it doesn’t have to be Champagne. There are some excellent sparkling wines out there at the moment. Some are made to emulate Champagnes unique style and others have a style of their own.
Who doesn’t like Italy’s Sparkling Superstar, a relative new kid on the block, it’s popularity seems unabated, even by warnings of Prosecco shortages and price rises as a result of a poor vintage last year. It’s a spontaneous, frivolous fizz with bags of charm and more affordable than Champagne. As a friend put it; Champagne is A for a celebration but Prosecco is A for fun! It would make a perfect welcome drink, and a toast. It is fresher and younger in style, so approachable and pleasing to most. It is also a lot cheaper! Prosecco in Calais starts at around £3.33, so certainly a popular and budget choice for many.
Cava is Spain’s answer to Champagne. There can be a wide variety of styles and quality. Some of the best, vintage Cava can certainly rival some of the cheaper Champagnes. There are two main styles of Cava; One made with local grape varieties and one made with some local grape varieties but blended with Chardonnay. Of the above, Freixenet, with the iconic Black Cordon Negro bottle, champion tradition. Whilst Cordoniu use more Chardonnay, giving the wines a slightly richer style.
There are of course some bargains to be had from Cava, prices start at £2.99 in Calais, for the Marques de Sierra Negra Cava Brut.
Other Sparkling Wines
Not to miss out on the action too much, the New World has pretty great Sparkling Wines too. Most look to copy Champagne using Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. There are some terrific Australian Sparklers from well know names like Wolf Blass and Lindemans. Or try some Kiwi quality with the lovely Lindauer wines.
It’s not just the Champagne region in France that produces Sparkling Wine - Burgundy, Loire, Alsace and the South of France all produce their own version, but not being from Champagne, they just can’t call it that. A good Crémant de Bourgogne is often an excellent alternative to Champagne. A French Sparkling Wine could be an excellent, low cost alternative to Champagne.
How about Champagne Cocktails?
For the welcome drinks, when you want the fizz to go a bit further you could try a cocktail. Below are a couple of our favourites:
The Classic Kir Royal
Traditionally made with Crémant de Bourgogne with a dash of Crème de Cassis it’s certainly a great way to welcome guests. The touch of sweetness makes it perfect for an earlier wedding breakfast.
You could use a New World fizz, such as Lindauer which has a high acidity level to balance the sweetness, or even try it with Chambord or Crème de Framboise instead.
You can almost get away with Peach Bellinis for breakfast! 2 ingredients: Canned peaches and sparkling wine. Blend the peaches into a puree and fill a Champagne flute a third full, top up with Champagne or Sparkling Wine.
The Black Velvet
Beer and Champagne really shouldn’t work, but it does!
Pour a stout, like Guinness, into a Champagne flute (half way) then top up with Sparkling Wine or Champagne.
If you pour the Champagne over the back of a teaspoon, in theory, it should leave two tones – but don’t worry, it rarely does for us.