How to Choose Your Reception Toasting Drink
Choosing the Right Champagne and Wine
If you're taking the traditional route, you'll want to raise champagne or a signature drink during the first toast. Then, opt for light or mellow wines that your guests will recognize, like light chardonnays and medium-bodied merlots. Since your party will be toasting and sipping over and over again, show them some mercy by serving drinks with a lower alcohol content (not super-dry wines or champagnes, for example). Finally, stay within your price range. If you want to splurge on good champagne with a steep price tag for the first toast, just choose a sparkling white wine with all the bubbles and half the cost for refills.
Offer sparkling cider to nondrinkers in lieu of champagne, or ask your bartender if she can make a nonalcoholic version of your signature cocktail using sparkling water. Also consider adding to your bar selection any number of nonalcoholic beer opitons that are on the market. Whatever you choose, don't forget to have plenty of juices, tea, coffee and of course, water, stocked and ready to serve.
Signature Cocktail, Full Bar or Both?
Most cocktail pros say there's no need for a full bar selection if you're serving a signature cocktail. How much and what kind of alcohol you serve at your wedding events is ultimately up to you, so only offering your signature cocktail is perfectly acceptable (and can cut your bar cost considerably!). However, we do caution against cash bars: Your guests are your guests, and they so kindly traveled from all over to celebrate with you, so they shouldn't have to pay for anything at your wedding.
Though tradition for the champagne toast naturally dictates champagne, there's really no reason why it has to fill the glasses you lift to celebrate your union. Many people like the cachet that champagne adds to the moment, but the couples who choose not to serve alcohol at their receptions routinely opt for nonalcoholic sparkling cider or even a fine sparkling water. But if you don't like champagne, then go ahead and pick whatever beverage you prefer. This is your wedding day, and it should reflect you.