Once you start planning your wedding, you'll find that costs can escalate quickly. It can be difficult to decide what's worth the splurge and what's not, and the desire to include every unique idea you've found may impact your ability to pay attention to your budget's bottom line. Things you never even knew existed are suddenly indispensable while the details you never considered doing away with are swiftly put into question. Case in point: the Champagne toast. What was once considered a big-day must-have has quickly become a detail couples wonder if they really need. So, is a Champagne toast necessary?
"Couples have so many wedding costs to factor in that Champagne toasts, which used to be the norm, are often excluded," says Amy Abbott, owner of Amy Abbott Events. "On average, the markup may be as much as three times that of the actual cost, meaning your favorite at-home Sunday brunch Champagne can jump from $50 to $150, plus tax and service." It's also important to remember that while you might appreciate the nuances of an expensive bottle of bubbly, many guests won't even take a sip of the Champagne in their flutes. Abbott estimates that at least half of the guests' glasses will be left on the table and they'll resume drinking their beverage of choice for the rest of the evening.
If you're wondering what the markup actually boils down to in per-person costs, know that it's anywhere from $3 and $10. "The costs greatly vary based on the venue, caterer, and the quality of the Champagne served," says Russell Pinto Jr. of Little Red Bean Productions. "Although the cost per person may not sound like a lot, when you multiply that by your guest count, plus the associated taxes and service fees tacked on by the caterer, you could easily be getting into the thousands of dollars." On the flip side, if you decide against a Champagne toast and it's already included in your beverage package, Pinto says this is a great opportunity to ask the caterer if they can lower the overall total beverage cost.
Still on the fence about whether or not you should ask your guests to raise a glass of bubbly during the reception? Remember that there are a number of ways to include a toast at your reception without breaking the bank. "Champagne can only be called Champagne if it's from the Champagne region of France, which inherently comes with a larger price tag," says Pinto. "You can immediately save a significant amount of money if you substitute the Champagne for an equally delicious brut Italian prosecco or a Spanish cava." If you're getting married in the fall, she even suggests considering using a dry apple cider instead of Champagne. "Apple cider has the reputation of being sweet, but over the past couple of years producers are using Champagne yeast to make their dry sparkling apple cider, which makes it taste just like a dry sparkling wine."
Kevin Dennis, a certified event planner and founder of Fantasy Sound, also stresses that craft beers are big right now. "It's a lot of fun to toast with a favorite brew or have guests toast with what they already have in hand, but give a nod to the tradition with a Champagne-flavored cake." Another option is to bring your own bottles and pay a corkage fee. Just make sure to talk to your venue or caterer about this, as not all will allow you to provide your own bubbly.
If you decide to go ahead with the Champagne toast, you'll want to bear a few things in mind—and you'll love the first one. "Be sure to taste test the exact Champagne that they'll serve," says Pinot. "You don't want to be taken by surprise on the day-of with something that you dislike. It's recommended to select a brut or dry-style of Champagne to appease most of your guests' palettes." It's common for a caterer to pre-pour the bubbly during cocktail hour, but Pinto says that if you're paying an additional fee for a Champagne toast, you should ask the catering team to pour it just before the reception. That way, you and your guests are drinking it at its peak.
Bottom line, no matter what you decide, remember that there's no rule that says you must toast with Champagne. Guests will be happy to raise a glass of whatever they're drinking. If you have the budget for Champagne—and you want to serve it—then go ahead, but if you're looking to cut costs, it's certainly a tradition you can skip.