Do I Need Coffee at My Wedding? (Tips For Your Big Day)

We had coffee at our wedding, served a little after the reception meal when we cut the wedding cake. But is serving coffee on your big day really necessary?

While coffee isn’t absolutely necessary at a wedding reception, it would certainly be well received by your guests. A gallon of coffee will make around 20 typical cups, so if we’re keeping the math simple you’ll need five gallons for 100 guests.

Let’s dive down into the topic of coffee at weddings in more detail, and discover when to serve it, how to serve it – and whether to charge for it or not…

Do I Need Coffee at My Wedding?

Is Coffee Necessary at a Wedding?

Coffee isn’t a necessity at a wedding – but it’s definitely something nice to offer your guests. There are several reasons why offering coffee at your wedding is a good idea:

  • It’s a good opportunity for guests to mingle and chat
  • It cuts down on the amount of alcohol served and consumed, which can reduce your costs and can keep things calmer. Also, coffee is a good option for a morning wedding if you don’t fancy serving champagne at 10:30 a.m.
  • You can serve non-drinkers a really nice drink. Honestly, we drivers do get a bit bored with all the orange juice we’re offered…
  • Lots of us love coffee these days, and we’d just be so excited to see a good brew available at your wedding. A love of coffee is something a lot of people have in common, so it’s a good ice breaker
  • Winter wedding? A warming cup of coffee is just the thing for chilly guests. You could even add a shot of something interesting for those who’d appreciate it
  • Summer wedding? Iced coffee makes a refreshing treat
  • Got any guests coming with young kids? They’ll be overwhelmed with gratitude to find caffeine on offer

So you see, there are lots of good reasons to serve coffee at your wedding. After all the hard work and planning, you could probably do with a pick-me-up yourself, too!

It doesn’t have to be an everyday Americano or your go-to latte. You could serve a special celebratory coffee, or maybe even ask a barista to design one for you (budget depending).

Try something romantic like this iced strawberry macchiato: perfect for a summer wedding.

How Much Coffee Do You Need at a Wedding?

Well, how much coffee you need for your wedding depends on a number of things, such as the number of guests and how you’ve structured the day.

It takes roughly a gallon of coffee to fill 20 cups – but how do you know how many cups you’ll need to fill?

Before you plan how much coffee you’ll need at the wedding, before you even count coffee drinkers, is at what points you plan on serving coffee?

We’ll look at the options for this a little further on; however, times to serve coffee could include as guests arrive or after the meal (as we all know, coffee is delicious with cake).

Your next calculation is guest numbers. How do you convert these into coffee cups?

How Many Gallons of Coffee Do I Need for 100 People at a Wedding Reception?

A gallon of coffee will make around 20 typical cups. So if we’re keeping the math simple, you’ll need five gallons for 100 guests.

However… how many of those 100 don’t drink coffee, and how many do you think would like to have more than one cup?

If you’re trying to keep to a coffee budget, you can knock all the under-10s off that list, as well as anyone you know who doesn’t drink coffee (there’s someone in every family – yes, even ours).

If you’re happy for the coffee to be a bit more free-flowing, you can arrange with the venue to allow for one cup per adult initially, then have more jugs filled if necessary.

There’s another way of doing this. You could hire a mobile coffee bar (for example, one of those gorgeous vintage coffee carts), and they will act as your very own coffee bar.

Their baristas will just keep making and serving the coffee as long as it’s needed, and you won’t have to commit to a specified number of gallons..’

But, this leads onto our next question: should the coffee be free at a wedding, or should the guests pay for their own cappuccinos? 

Should Drinks Be Free at a Wedding? (Including Coffee)

This really is one of those tricky things to navigate when planning a wedding: should the guests pay for their own drinks?

Unless we’re talking about a Peltz-Beckham-level wedding, we think there’s nothing wrong with expecting guests to pay for at least some of their own alcoholic drinks or coffees.

A good compromise is to provide a cup of coffee or a glass of champagne on arrival, then maybe have wine, coffee and juice on the table for the meal and toasts.

If your guests want any more drinks, they can pay for them themselves at the bar or the coffee station.

This way, you’re still offering your guests a welcome cup of coffee or glass of bubbly, but you’re not blowing your budget.

When Do I Serve Coffee at a Wedding?

When Do I Serve Coffee at a Wedding?

You’ve decided that you definitely want to serve fresh coffee at your wedding (excellent: where’s our invite?). When exactly should coffee be offered to your guests?

Here are a few of the best times to serve coffee at a wedding:

  • On arrival at the venue, when guests are waiting for the ceremony to start
  • On arrival at the reception or party venue, if different to the above. This could be as an alternative to champagne or cocktails
  • To accompany the cake during the meal, or as an alternative to dessert (and speaking of cake, here’s the ideal one for coffee lovers: an espresso wedding cake!) 
  • As the final course of the meal
  • The whole time, with a coffee station or bar set up at the venue
  • “Behind the scenes”, as you all get ready for the big day. Treat yourself to some really lovely coffee as you get ready: maybe with some unusual flavors, designed especially for you. This is particularly helpful if there was a bachelor or bachelorette party the night before…

You might go for one of two of these (like coffee as a beverage option on arrival then again with dessert) or opt for an all-day coffee cart, or similar.

You can also set up your own coffee bar for guests to help themselves, which is a cheaper option (provided you can keep the coffee warm and the milk chilled).

Final Words on Serving Coffee at Your Wedding

I’m glad we served tea and coffee at our wedding in 2005 – it was a nice accompaniment to cutting and then eating the wedding cake.

While many children don’t drink coffee (or aren’t allowed), many of your other guests both drinking or not drinking alcohol would appreciate a cup if it’s on offer.

I guess all this really depends on your budget and personal preferences – but I definitely think coffee at weddings is a great move. 🙂