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Corkage Fee Calculations

26 May 2009 8,054 views No Comment

We’ve been doing calculations over corkage fees for several hours now. Some have a very high fee to discourage couples from buying cheap alcohol from other vendors and others have minimum fees to pay for the dishwasher and waiter services. I never knew corkage fees could be one of the budget traps. I’ve also been reading other forums on corkage fee and one couple recounted how their venue said it was £2,000 but as soon as they said they could not afford the venue, the corkage fee was brought down to £500. Clearly, corkage fees are a big consideration and make a big difference in your budget. So far, our venue is charging us:

£60 for champagne
£15 for wine
£18 handling fee for juice!!!!!!!
and £1 per beer.

I think the £18 handling fee for juice is just plain ridiculous because it means that all the guests have to drink more than 9 glasses of juice to make it worthwhile to use the corkage fee rather than buy the venue’s own drinks. So I think for juice, we will be ordering 20 litres of their own drinks.

I looked around on forums about the average corkage fee and some brides even managed £5 a bottle. Im not sure if its because the venue is outside of London or if they are just really good hagglers. I think our venue is too snobby to bring their corkage fee that low. So the other option is to negotiate a flat corkage fee.

I did the worst case scenario corkage fee for 15 bottles of champagne, 20 bottles of wine and 50 bottles of beer and it worked out to be £1,250 (without the juice handling fee) for just the corkage fee. When I substituted sparkling wine for champagne and brought the corkage fee down to £15 it worked to be £525. I estimate drinks to be – worst case scenario around £1,650 for corkage fee and drinks and best case scenario half that amount. My fiance just let out a huge sigh, he never thought it would amount to this much. He says this is daylight robbery – I smiled and said that this is all wedding business.

Another option is to negotiate a drinks package but my venue’s drinks package start at £35 which I think it is still very expensive and most people will not drink much for a lunch reception and when most of the guests are not drinkers.


Im totally against the idea of having my guests pay for their own drinks. The last weekend we attended had this policy after the dinner and I thought it didnt really make the hosts look too generous. I heard about another wedding where the bride and groom gave everyone two coupons for two drinks. Since most people are still talking about it, I guess it did not make a very good impression.

So because we’re paying for our own drinks, I’m making my fiance negotiate a flat corkage fee or we’re going to have to be very careful with the drinks. One of the ways we found other couples cutting down costs is by substituting sparkling wine for the champagne. It works out to be 4 times cheaper in our case. On an initial search, we found that Sparkling wine range from £7.50 to £35 E.g. Montana Chardonney New Zealand’s Sparkling Wine Rivals Champagne.

Also a good tip we found is to ask the bartender or waiters to save all the empty bottles so that you can count the bottles used and pay for the right corkage fee. I think its always better to have more bottles and have them returned than to have too few and have guests grumble.

Considering that the UK bride spends £800 on drinks at her wedding, I have a feeling we’re going to go way over… unfortunately!

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