Getting married is a seriously expensive business, as anyone will tell you. Add the word ‘wedding’ onto any service and it immediately becomes more expensive, or so it seems. So we were a bit concerned that getting wine for the wedding might end up bankrupting us.
We decided we wanted to have an open bar, because so many of our friends are coming from so far away (shout out to Sam and Kristen from Texas!) the least we can do is ensure we throw them a good party, and everyone knows the best parties are where the booze is free! I also wanted to make sure the wine was really nice, and easy enough to drink all evening (funnily enough, I never really have much problem with that).
The first thought that we had was to pop over to France to the hypermarché and buy it in bulk there, because the taxes are much lower making the wine much cheaper. However, I didn’t much like the thought of having to sit in a car park sampling wines before going to buy boxes and boxes of the one we selected. It seemed like we would end up with bottles of opened wine and it would be very wasteful, not to mention stressful if we couldn’t find any we liked, or chose one and then they didn’t have enough in stock.
However, we were both quite sold on the idea of a ‘booze cruise’, as it is known. Then we stumbled upon Majestic Wine. They are very well known, with a warehouse in every town it seems, they do free glass hire, and they also have free tastings of selected bottles so you don’t have to buy loads to pick your favourites. What I didn’t know, was that they also have a branch in Calais, where you pay French prices for the exact same bottles, which are all at least £3 cheaper than in the UK (it was £4 pre-Brexit. Hmph). You can taste all the wines you want at home first, and select your favourites (I drank quite a few bottles of red in the name of research!) and then pre-order (with a £10 discount per £150 spent) online, and pay sterling cash at the warehouse upon collection. They also, which is flipping brilliant, and means we will probably be doing a booze cruise annually, wedding or no wedding, pay for your ferry or Eurotunnel crossing! At this point, we could see no reason not to order through them, so we got together with my sister who was also getting married and her now-husband Chris, and placed a bumper order and hired a cute little trailer to go and pick it up.
Now, here’s the best thing about it. You get a mini-holiday to France for free! We spent a lovely day back in May driving down the surprisingly beautiful coastline from Calais, stopping in pretty little beach towns and indulging in plenty of yummy French food. This post is going to be fairly photo heavy, because, well, it was an attractive day!
Our first stop was in Wimereux, where we had an amazing lunch of huîtres (oysters) and steak-frites in Le Carnot for a very reasonable price (that place has great décor too, highly recommend it).
After lunch we had a little time left on the parking meter so we strolled to the seafront and had a wander along.
We admired the pretty blue and white beach huts (admittedly set against some less pretty buildings sadly), and then got ourselves giant ice creams which were delicious.
We then headed to Audresselles and had another stroll along the seafront, and through the town, where it was market day. We checked out the stalls with all the fresh fish and seafood and local products, then had a lazy coffee in the sunshine.
Finally we headed to Majestic, where a pallet was already loaded for us with our order, which they wheeled right out to our waiting trailer. We had fun loading and stopped for a few souvenir pics before heading home. You can tell from the crazy poses and general larks that we all had a brilliant day, and together we saved ourselves nearly £1,000 on UK prices.
Basically, what is not to love? If you live in the South of England (or even if you’re north and don’t mind the drive down – we did it from Yorkshire and it was still absolutely worth it, albeit quite a trip) and you have a big party coming up that you need to cater for, or even a wine cellar you’d like to stock, or just a space behind the sofa that could fit a big wine rack, you absolutely need to give Majestic Calais a try. This post was not written in conjunction with them – they have never heard of me or asked me to review (though they did regram my excellent photo of us collecting the wine!) their service, I just loved it and wanted to share the best way to save serious money on your wedding wine (or any other wine!). Do it – book yourselves a mini-French escape, with the bonus of picking up a carload of wine before hopping on the ferry home. You’d be surprised how much you can fit in the average car!