Styling a destination wedding can be a daunting task, especially if you’re doing it yourself so it’s really important that you are realistic from the beginning about what you can and can’t achieve while abroad… at the end of the day, being stressed out a week before the wedding is just not what it’s all about. In an effort to help you add stylish focal points throughout your venue without losing sight of what’s really important, we will be posting a series of styling features that will hopefully help you plan well in advance and mean a quick and easy set up when you arrive.
HOW TO STYLE A DRINK STATION
Today we are looking at how to style a drink station for your wedding cocktail hour. Most venues will put on a drinks reception after the wedding ceremony and for a wedding abroad where the heat can be overwhelming for guests that just aren’t used to it, a drinks reception really is essential to cool guests down. It is a great place to start as really, the venue will be doing most of the work but it will require some communication on your part from the beginning.
Before we get into the “how to”, you’ll need to establish what the venue offers. Are you having cocktails or wine? Beers or champagne? Is there a non-alcoholic option? Is it self service or will a waiter be offering refreshments from a tray? If it is self service, what does the venue provide? Do guests pour their own from jugs or dispensers? Are glasses already laid out? If it’s serviced, how flexible are they during preparation? Be clear of the venue’s usual set up so that you can plan accordingly.
When it comes to choosing the type of beverages you serve, think in colour. Cocktails, mocktails, champagne and liquor based drinks are easier to style either at a self service station or from a tray. Discuss with the venue the options you have. When you’ve chosen your drinks, find out what sort of glass are they’re going to be served in. Is it a tall tumbler or a flute for example?
Self Service vs Off the Tray
Find out your options for how they can are served. Is it possible to have a mix of ideas- perhaps alcoholic beverages on a serving tray and non alcoholic beverages left at the station? What dispensers are available for self service? Are there any actual dispensers or do they have large clear jugs ( you want to see the colours!).
STYLING THE GLASS
Start with styling the very plain, standard glass tumblers or flutes that your cocktails or mocktails will be served in! Styling the glass is so easy and if you ask your venue nicely, they will often prep this for you.
We love colourful sugar! It is easy to carry and even easier to use but it makes a big difference and adds that something a little bit extra special to any cocktail or mocktail. Coloured sugar will only work for sweet drinks (do not sugar the rim of a wine glass!) and if you prefer, you can substitute it for salt for margaritas, sprinkles or even cocoa powder. The use of this will need to be first discussed with the venue as they will ideally prepare the glasses for you before your wedding. If you have to do it yourself, all you need to do is moisten the edge of the the glass with either an ingredient from the the drink or using a wedge of fruit. As soon as you have moistened the outside of the rim, the glass needs to be dipped in the sugar and left to dry and put aside for later use. Coloured sugars, sprinkles or dusts can be bought from any baking supply store and are so cheap. If you prefer to make it yourself, there are some great tutorials to be found on Pinterest. Easy.
Another very easy and inexpensive way to add something extra to the glass is by adding a pretty straw. Options are endless with thousands to be bought on Etsy so whether it’s a block colour, flora, striped or dotted, you won’t be long finding what you’re looking for. Straws are also small to pack so they are are ideal.
If you’d rather not have a straw, then a drinks stirrer is the way to go. Again, they can be bought online or if you have time you can make your own. They are cost effective, easy to pack and require no effort at all to pop into a glass. Their result however is very pretty, eye-catching cocktails that add fun and personality to your wedding style.
Fresh Fruit and Herbs
Whether it’s a slice of lime, a floating frozen blackberry, a sprig of rosemary or lavender, it’s all about adding colour and interest as well as taste! Speak to your venue about what they can arrange.
SERVED FROM THE TRAY
If your cocktails are going to be served from the tray, then there isn’t a whole lot you can do. Metal trays or plain white trays are generally best as the colour will pop from the cocktail.
If they are handled trays, then the venue might let you add some ribbon. Loose bows that fall long look better than very structured and tight bows and tied in a variety of colours from your wedding palette, they will be very whimsical and romantic. Again, this is a five minute job if you have to do it yourself but be sure that the venue knows what you are up to!
Napkins are also a necessity so instead of using plain white, consider buying some pretty ones online. Again, they are cost effective and will be small to pack but sitting on the trays beside an array of colourful cocktails with pretty stirrers and straws, they will look so great.
WEDDING DRINKS STATION
It’s always a nice touch to be able to create a focal point at any venue so creating a drinks station is a great idea for a more casual, outdoorsy, relaxed destination wedding. It also looks really, really great and takes only a little bit of effort to bring together.
Discuss with your venue what tables are available. If they are buffet tables, they will need to be dressed in linen and most likely, the venue will be able to provide you with standard white clothes. It’s a good idea to keep an eye out for furniture the venue already has when visiting the venue for the first time. There might be something a little more decorative that needs no dressing at all and all it takes is to ask if you can use it.
If a buffet table is your only option, you might consider bringing over a table runner or a decorative tablecloth to cover over the white. It doesn’t have to be to the floor but it should tie in with your overall palette and look in some way. Fabric can be bought easily online and in small proportions, it can be packed easily into a suitcase. Take note of the size of the buffet table though so that you purchase enough to cover it all or most of it. It’s also worth bearing in mind that white is sometimes just as nice when other items are sitting on top of the table so don’t stress about this too much.
Check with the venue whether or not they have drinks dispensers that can be used. If not, then look at their clear jug options. Again, clear glass is always better as you want to see the colour of the cocktails. Adding fresh fruit and herbs to the cocktail will also bring an extra something to the styled look and in most cases, it can be arranged by the venue.
The glasses that you have already prepped should sit arranged on the table as guests arrive. Arrange in rows and lines and have all stirrers or straws facing the same directions… it is easier on the eye.
Signage for the drinks table is also easy to arrange with your invitation designer so it ties in with your overall suite and is very easy and small to pack into a suitcase. The signage you should have needs to describe the drinks available to guests and can be hung from dispensers with pretty ribbon or rope, or sit on the table in tent form. Additional signage like “drink me” or “please take one” look pretty and also provide some direction to guests.
Like above, pretty napkins on a plate will add another splash of colour to the table and can be separated into smaller piles too add more depth of interest.
Spare stirrers or straws in a decorative vessel will provide another interest point that is also useful and if you can arrange sweets or even pick up even a bunch of flowers or fruit to fatten out the table, then all the better.
Create depth and interest by having the dispensers or jugs at a different heights to the glassware. Maybe have the glasses split into two at different levels. Play around with heights of placements until the table looks as interesting as it can be.
An interesting backdrop makes the biggest difference but it might not be possible to bring something big and bulky over on a plane. We suggest keeping it simple with 5 or 6 rolls of ribbon hanging from string and if that doesn’t work, use an interesting wall or feature point at the venue. Any focal point like a wall of roses or interesting double doors, maybe even an existing piece of hanging artwork will work beautifully if you build the look around it.
We hope we have been able to provide you with some guidance and that you feel a little bit more confident creating an interesting but essential space for refreshments. While we always say it’s most important for the photographer to capture special moments, loved ones and real emotion, the little details help piece everything together beautifully.
Image Credits; Onelove photography via Green Wedding Shoes | Kitchen Treaty | Eric Kelley via Southern Weddings | White Loft Studio via Style Me Pretty | Etsy | Jose Villa via Snippet and Ink | Jennings King | Martha Stewart Weddings | Emerald + Ella | Sugar and Cloth | Etsy | Jeremy Harwell via Wedding Chicks | Megan Clouse | Jose Villa Photography | Jose Villa Photography | Garden and Gun