A Corkage Charge is a charge that a venue can charge to customers who bring their own wine or other alcoholic drinks to a restaurant or wedding venue.
Is it fair to make a corkage charge?
In most cases, I would say yes. It does depend on where you are, and what the venue is doing for the charge. The staff at most venues, like hotels or restaurants, may offer a number of services, such as putting bottles in fridges, continuously supplying ice from the restaurant’s ice machines (click here if interested in commercial ice machines), washing glasses, clearing bottles, etc. And of course, they may want some compensation for the fact that they won’t be making a profit on the sale of the drink. However, as to fairness, that of course depends on the level of the charge!
How much should I expect to pay?
How long is a piece of string! The corkage charge is normally made per bottle brought but can vary based on the type of drink. Often the corkage on a bottle of Champagne is many times greater than that on a bottle of wine. A big factor will also be the general prices of the wine that they normally sell. If a bottle of house wine is 20 then the corkage charge may be around 12 but if they have a higher-end wine list and the house wine is 50 bottle (the highest I know of locally is over 100!), then the corkage will also be much higher. The level of charge may also reflect how keen they really are for you to bring your own bottles.
Is it worth paying a corkage charge?
There are a few factors to juggle here.
- How much does the venue charge for corkage?
- What is the cost of their drinks?
- How much can you buy the drinks for?
- Do you a particular wine you want that is not on their wine list?
As a quick calculation based on 120 guests, with using the usual 1/2 bottle per person, so that is 60 bottles wine and 60 bottles of fizz. We will also assume that the cost of the drinks are: from a supermarket 5 and 55: and from the venue 20 and 50 for wine and Champagne respectively.
Own wine with a corkage charge
If you buy your own wine from a supermarket or local wine merchant you might be looking at 5 for wine and 11 for Champagne with corkage charges of 12 and 20. This would give a cost of; 60 x 5 = 300 for the wine and 60 x 11 = 660 for the Champagne and the corkage would be 60 x 12 = 720 for the wine and 60 x 20 = 1020 for the Champagne:
Drinks cost 960
From the venue’s wine list
Wine 60 x 20 = 1200
Champagne 60 x 50 = 3000
Total = 4200
Clearly even with the corkage charges, in this example, supplying your own would be cheaper. Obviously, you will have to swap numbers around depending on quotes from your venue, and wines you have chosen.
Are there any options?
Yes! At Hargate Hall and some other venues, you can bring your own drinks and there are no corkage charges at all. Why you might ask, would we not charge anything. Well, for us, we don’t have a fixed manned bar that we want to push. Nor do we have any staff to pay to do all the jobs that justify charging corkage.
So based on the numbers above you are not paying, 4200, you are not even paying 2700, you are paying 960. That is a huge saving! You might choose to use some of that saving to employ staff to serve and help out, but 2 staff for 6 hours won’t come anywhere near that cost.
What about the evening reception?
Generally, venues provide a pay bar for in the evenings. If you have gone for a DIY wedding venue then you have the freedom to provide all the drinks yourself if you want to. We offer 3 options of DIY, DIY with Staff and Full Pay Bar. It is the closest to a drinks package that we have! If you are interested in this, we have a separate page all about our bar options.
Whatever you do has pros and cons. If you provide everything then the total bill is definitely cheaper. You have to weigh this up against the time and effort to sort it all out. You also have to think about what do do with any leftovers. What you might buy for 120 people for partying lasts a very long time when there are just 2 of you!! Also, although it is cheaper, you are picking up the whole cost. Finding somewhere where you can provide your day time drinks with no corkage, but offers a pay bar in the evening can be a happy compromise.