There are many reasons why you might choose to refrain from serving liquor at your wedding reception. Alcohol isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (see what we did there?) and skimping on the alcohol certainly doesn’t mean skimping on delicious, sophisticated beverages that’ll have your guests begging for the recipe long after the party. Here are 5 of our favorite thirst-quenchers — sans the booze:
Liven Up with a Lemonade
Regardless of the season, a lemonade is truly a classic party drink, and there are no shortage of varieties to match your menu. Our pick? A classy lavender lemonade, with or without honey or other herbs (such as sage). Elevate your lemonade with a mesh bag of dried lavender placed inside of the glass or mason jar. You might even consider sprinkling fresh lavender around the drink dispenser, or adding a lemon centerpiece.
It seems that new beverage trends pop up constantly, but rose water is one trend that seems tailor made for an elegant wedding reception. Simply combining water and rose petals results in a unique, beautiful beverage that is as Instagram-worthy as it is refreshing. Make sure to rinse your rose petals (and avoid pesticide-exposed ones) before simmering them over moderate heat in just enough water to cover the petals. Once the petals begin to take on a pinkish appearance, drain them from the water.
You might, however, still choose to sprinkle rose petals over the drink for decoration, or simply across your serving table. Get creative by combining your rose water with other ingredients, like coconut milk, lemon juice, vanilla extract, or sugar.
Try a Coffee, Tea, or Cocoa Bar
Having a coffee or hot chocolate bar at your reception is a fun way to entertain and refresh your guests. For a hot cocoa stand, add decorative signage and offer up a variety of cocoa toppings, like caramel, cinnamon sticks, marshmallows (try heart-shaped!), sea salt, vanilla, and marshmallows. The options are endless. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even let guests try their hand at using a marshmallow toaster! Just be sure to select an option with essential safety features, like a flame guard and safety lock.
When it comes to coffee, offer up espresso, as well as decaf. Let guests choose from a selection of syrups, creams, and milk types. You could even add in tea, allowing guests to make their own tea lattes. A warm London Fog is a recommended fave, a creamy combo of Earl Grey tea, milk, vanilla, and spices that is perfect for a winter wedding. Tying the knot in the fall? ‘Tis the season for pumpkin-spiced everything!
Add a special touch with personalized cup sleeves or straws in your wedding colors.
Sweeten the Day with Southern Sweet Tea
Great fun for a summer wedding, the traditionally Southern sweet tea pairs classically with mason jars and fresh lemon. Everyone has an opinion on how to make the best sweet tea, so this is another drink you may just need to play around with before the big day. For a gallon of sweet tea, a cup and a half to 2 cups of sugar seems to be the most common choice, but you can choose more or less depending on your taste. Some recipes even call for including a dash of baking soda to remove any bitterness as the tea steeps.
A secret suggestion? Try adding around 5 black tea bags to a large glass bowl, and placing it in the microwave for 4-5 minutes. Pour the steeped tea into a pitcher filled with your chosen amount of sugar, and stir. Fill the rest of the pitcher with ice and/or cold water. Immediately refrigerate for a quick and easy way to almost guarantee a bitterless sweet tea. Decorate your dispenser with a garnish option, like mint or peach slices, for that extra bit of flair.
Mix a Mocktail
These festive drinks are as varied as they are delicious. Almost any fruit or dessert can be turned into a memorable mocktail for your afterparty. Warm up with a spicy cider in the cooler months, or chill out with a fruity spritzer in the summer. Hibiscus and passion fruit are distinct choices, while a pineapple and ginger combo makes for an incredible punch. For a real taste of the unexpected, try a reverse Shirley Temple — the Roy Rogers. Mix Coca Cola and grenadine syrup over ice with a maraschino cherry on top. Root beer floats are another fun option, especially for a vintage-themed wedding. The possibilities are endless!
You definitely shouldn’t feel like you have to include wine or beer at your wedding. It’s your special day, and your drink menu should be as one-of-a-kind as you and your spouse. Give one of our tasty, non-alcoholic drink suggestions a try, and let us know what you decided for your wedding reception in the comments!