Weddings are costly – that's no secret. And the thought of buying crates and crates of wine, champagne and spirits can cause concern for even the most generous of couples. You don't want to serve guests something they can't drink, but you also don't want to cut costs in other areas like the wedding dress or the venue.
When it comes to selecting your bottle of fizz, scour the market and you're sure to find a champagne, prosecco, cava or sparkling wine to suit your budget, however frugal or extravagant it may be.
Waitrose wine buyer Anne Jones has given her top tips on what bubbly is best to have at your wedding...
On a budget:
It's worth considering whether your guests will ever see the label; if not, judge the liquid not the looks. The Waitrose Brut NV is good value at £19.99 a pop, but if your purse strings are too tight for champagne, a style called Crémant is made in a similar way but with gentler fizz, and the Cave de Lugny Crémant de Bourgogne (£13.99) is a good option.
Cava is also hugely under-rated and you can get great examples for under £10. If your guests are generally prosecco-lovers, you can save by choosing the Waitrose Bright and Fruity Sparkling (£6.49), which is made in exactly the same way from the same variety. Don't forget to look out for promotions and to factor in case discounts, including on mixed cases, and order them well in advance – an essential part of the planning.
All-rounder for a champagne reception:
While you might think that all champagnes taste alike, there are actually many styles to choose from. Blanc de Blancs are made from Chardonnay grapes and are bright, zesty and citrussy. Blanc de Noirs are made only from the red-skinned Pinot grapes, and so tend to be richer and fruiter. Many NV blends are made from a mix of the two and it's worth trying to find one that isn't too far on either end of the scale to please as many people as possible. Also look for one that has had more maturation than usual before release, or the use of a high proportion of reserve wines, which adds character. The Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve (£29.99) fits the bill perfectly.
To mix in a champagne cocktail:
First of all, do some experiments with your champagne cocktail to see if you really do need champagne. The Graham Beck sparkling wine (£13.99) from South Africa is made from the same grape varieties as champagne and is much lighter on your wallet – and having been used at celebrations by both President Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela, you're in good company.
To have with cake:
Champagne, unbelievably, isn't generally a good match with cake. It's too dry and so doesn't release the flavours of either the fizz or the cake. Instead choose something soft and fruity such as the San Leo Asti (£9.99) sparkling wine.
If you want something pink:
Pink fizz is an obvious choice for a traditional summer wedding, and it can also be a great way to be creative as well as save some money. If you want champagne, the Alexandre Bonnet Brut Rose is superb value at £26.99. However if the colour is more important to you than the fact that it's champagne, a great trick is to add a drop of fruit cordial to white sparkling wine, along with a fresh slice of strawberry or a raspberry.
To save for just the two of you:
The most important person on your wedding day is you, so whatever you've served your guests make sure you have a bottle of something special for yourselves. Often the biggest brands are not necessarily the best, but some really are worth the money, such as Bollinger and Pol Roger, as they are both made in a relatively rich flavourful style. A great value vintage grand cru is Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 2005 (£33.99) made entirely from chardonnay, this is citrussy, refreshing and has a fantastic depth of flavour.
For a low-alcohol option:
Prosecco usually has a slightly lower alcohol content than champagne or cava, but if you really want to pace yourself, the soft, fruity, slightly sweet style of Asti is only seven percent. Alternatively you can serve white wine spritzers. Fill half a flute with white wine and top up with soda or sparkling water, and an ice cube to help keep your cool if it's a hot, sunny day.
If you want to buy British:
You can keep it local by shopping online or keeping an eye out at your local vineyards. Some of the more widely available English sparkling wines can rival good champagne for quality. The Nyetimber Classic Cuvee (£31.99) looks stunning as an addition to the table and the Ridgeview Merret Bloomsbury (£24.99) also has a very loyal following.