Why end your creativity and personalization efforts with designing the wedding cake? Give your guests a one-of-a-kind treat with signature drinks at your wedding reception. You can invent the drinks yourself or discuss with your caterer or bartender how to best incorporate your favorite ingredients into tastes everyone will love. Remember to mix it up with alcohol-based and "virgin" versions so every guest can join the fun.
Experiment with his-and-hers flavors. As a fun game, take suggestions from your friends and family beforehand by asking, "If I were any flavor, what flavor would I be?" You may be surprised by the answer but it will make the finished product all the more unique and personal.
Match your drinks to your wedding colors. Pink and green? Try cherry blossom tea and mint-cucumber gimlets. Orange and brown? Try Cointreau-pear martinis and Irish coffee floats. Yellow and white? Try ginger-lemon fizzes and lavender champagne.
Don't forget to garnish with little touches that bring out the color like floating fruit, twists of candied rinds, and grated chocolate. The color of the garnish can bring out subtle color in the drinks, as with floating cranberries in berry vodka, or contrast it, as with mint leaves in peach rum.
When garnishing with herbs, mint isn't your only option. Although the classic mint leaf adds an elegant touch to most beverages, there's much to be gained from experimenting with other tastes and shapes. Basil leaves add an exotic taste to gimlets, mojitos, and even lemonades. Lemon thyme martinis are a welcome surprise many people haven’t experienced before. Rosemary pairs well with cucumber gin and tonics. Even sprigs of juniper, although strong, can add an extra zest to gin-based beverages.
The presentation of the drinks is almost as important as the flavor. If you're not using glassware from your caterer, you can rent glasses from party rental companies in any shape you desire. Crisp, sparkling tastes pair well with tall, slender glasses; while creamy, rich drinks are more appealing in short, round ones. Look for original twists on classic glasses, like martini glasses with curved stems, to give your drinks an extra air of originality.
What will you name your drinks? Brainstorm with your partner about the perfect names for drinks representing your favorite activities, the location of your first date, and what you enjoy about each other. Is your relationship more playful or more serious? Are you adventurous or do you stick with the classics? Your choice of drink is one more nice way to share yourselves with your guests.
Your signature drinks can evoke a mood just like your venue and decorations. Even if you're not having a wedding on the beach, serving tropical drinks can instantly launch your guests into a vacation mindset. Serving drinks out of hollow pineapples or coconuts seals the deal. If you're having a fall or winter wedding, on the other hand, drinks that incorporate hot cider, hot chocolate, spiced coffee, or mulled wine will make your guests feel as snug as if they're in front of a crackling fire.
When constructing your signature drinks, be sure to give your bartender or caterer a list of any ingredients you absolutely don't want, as well as favorites you're eager to include. The drinks should represent you and your partner, so don't hesitate to suggest your favorite cocktails.
Not sure where to start? You can hire a signature drink specialist to make sure all your favorite ingredients are incorporated into drinks that pair as well as you and your partner do. Just be sure, if you're consulting with someone besides your existing bartender or caterer, to notify all of your vendors so they can be sure not to get in each other's way. You should also notify your venue if a drink specialist will be working the day of your wedding, as some locations charge extra for, or may not allow, outside staff.
Whether you serve your beverages warm or cold, in mugs or flutes, tart or sweet--if you come up with the right signature drinks, you will be able to enhance your guests' experiences. Have fun and experiment with plenty of tastings before the big day. It's your wedding and you'll be represented in every detail; from the words in the ceremony to the smallest garnish, so feel free to express yourself!