You are in the middle of preparing for your wedding... and you are starting to hear certain previously unknown words, such as the famous "corkage fee" ... But what is it?! We'll explain!
Understanding the corkage fee...
The corkage fee is generally applied by caterers, reception venues or restaurants. The caterer may indeed ask you for a sum of money if you bring your own bottles for your event. Sometimes the caterer will offer you a selection of wines on their menu and if you wish to bring your own wine, they may charge you for it. This is a flat rate applied to the bottle. It corresponds to the opening of bottles, table service, the use and cleaning of glasses. In reality, it is there to compensate for the potential loss of earnings of the caterer if you do not choose their wines...
As you will have understood, its name "corkage fee" comes from the fact that the amount that will be requested will depend on a number of bottles opened... and therefore uncorked! Originally, the day after the festivities, all the corks were collected in order to count the exact number of bottles consumed. And thus calculate the total price!
How much is the corkage fee?
The amount of the corkage fee is not regulated. And it can vary between €4 and €7 per bottle ... Do the math... This can quickly increase the amount of your drinks budget! It's a little less common, but some caterers, to avoid errors or fraud, will calculate the corkage fee by the number of guests, and not by the bottle. In any case, don't forget to take it into account in your estimated budget... because it could be an unpleasant surprise worth a few hundred euros that you could have done without!
There is no rule !
Depending on the region , the corkage fee is applied to a greater or lesser extent. In wine-growing regions, for example in Burgundy or Bordeaux, this practice is more common than in the Paris region! Beyond the corkage fee, certain reception venues will sometimes even impose their selection of wines on you... and you will have no choice. This is typically the kind of information that is essential to have in mind before even visiting a place.
Why is it more interesting to have your own wine?
Overall, buying your own bottles is more interesting than going through the caterer's selection... I invite you to read our article on the 6 tips for finding the best wine for your wedding . You will have access to a wider range, more attractive prices, and you will have the possibility to make your own choices! It's your wedding, after all!
Please note that the corkage fee is not applied by all caterers . This can even be a criterion of choice if you are hesitating between two providers. Personally, I have not even visited or called a venue or caterer that charged a corkage fee! If, however, you really have a crush on a caterer who charges corkage... don't hesitate to negotiate the amount. You can take advantage of the fact that other caterers, and therefore competitors, do not impose this on you.
And outside of weddings...?
Excluding catered events, the corkage fee is particularly applied in restaurants or bars. If you want to celebrate your birthday or organize an afterwork party and bring your own bottles, the owner of the restaurant or bar can charge you for it. Once again, there are no regulations or rules, it is up to the discretion of the owner! Small clarification all the same, only a place holding an IV, drinking license, and therefore authorized to sell alcoholic drinks itself is entitled to charge you a corkage fee!