Three classic ‘mocktails’ to spoil non-drinkers with…

Booze selection is typically given careful thought when planning most weddings and other celebrations.

In many ways, though, catering for the drinkers at your party can be more straightforward than providing for those avoiding alcohol. You’re never short of ideas when it comes to mixing spirits into fascinating and exotic combinations, after all…but what about when it comes to making the non-drinkers feel equally pampered?

It’s always important to provide an interesting and diverse list of drinks options for the abstainers, designated drivers, supervisors, mums-to-be, dieters, and anybody else who’ll be opting to keep a clear head on the day/night.

One handy way to do this is with a bright and varied ‘mocktails’ menu – and, to that end, we’ve picked out three superb recipes that have always proved easy winners in our experience. Ingredient lists, techniques and serving ideas for each are outlined below.




A play on the classic mojito, but without the rum – this is a superbly flexible drink, ideal for summer, that always looks alluring and is easy to doll up with various combinations of fruits, juices and leaves. It should always include mint and lime for that characteristic flavour profile, though. Note that the muddling stage can be done in advance, meaning your glasses are prepped and ready to go when it’s time to add the fresh fizz.


8-10 mint leaves per glass

Fresh lime juice – about 30ml per glass

Rum extract – one teaspoon per glass (use a dash or two of vanilla extract if you’re struggling to find the rum version, although it’s relatively easy to get online)

Brown sugar – around a tablespoon per glass

Soda water to top up – you can use clear lemonade or even limeade if you prefer, in which case omit most of the brown sugar (just leave enough in there to help with the muddling)

Ice – cubed or crushed, depending on whether or not you want to serve it with straws

A dash of fresh orange juice – non-traditional and entirely optional, but goes very well with cranberries (see below)


Place the mint leaves, lime juice and sugar into a highball or tumbler – you can sugar the rim of the glasses beforehand if you like – and muddle together to bruise the mint, releasing flavours and aromas as the sugar begins to break up and dissolve. Fill the glass with ice cubes, then pour over the rum extract and finally top up with soda water. Garnish with an extra mint leaf of two. For twists on this recipe, try adding a handful of raspberries or cranberries to the muddling mixture, partially crushing them up as you bruise the mint, lime and sugar together.




Cold cocktail alcoholic wine drinks in glass with straw on a table in AnzioClassic Spanish sangria is based around red wine mixed with chopped fruit, a splash of orange juice and a few spices. By switching out the wine for either a non-alcoholic version or a grape-based fruit juice, it’s really easy to adapt into a wonderfully tasty (and healthy) party punch bowl, which is the serving suggestion we’ve based the measures below on. A brilliant choice for daytime or outdoor events, it can easily be made a few hours in advance (or even kept overnight, depending on what fruits you add).


Red or white grape juice – the main ingredient, so enough to fill whatever size of bowl you’ll be serving (white grape juice is generally easier to find than red, although this can be substituted for non-alcoholic wine if you’re looking to make it taste super-authentic)

Blueberries – one punnet per bowl

A few generous handfuls of small or chopped fruits – our favourites are more blueberries, raspberries, oranges, peaches, and sliced bananas for a slightly Caribbean twist

Fresh orange juice – around 2-3 full glasses per bowl

Fresh lime juice – around 2-3 limes, fully squeezed

A cinnamon stick – optional, gives a sweetly spiced note that can be great for an evening or winter version

Ice cubes – around 2 standard-sized trays per bowl


Blend two generous handfuls of blueberries with your base liquid, whether it’s grape juice or alcohol-free wine. Pour this into a serving bowl, along with the orange and lime juices. Mix with a wooden spoon to combine well. Add your ice, chopped and sliced fruits, and cinnamon stick if using, then cover and let the sangria sit in the fridge for a couple of hours until nicely chilled. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.




A fantastic idea we found at the online recipe hub Always Order Dessert, this alcohol-free twist on the sharp, sophisticated character of the classic champagne, lemon and gin-based French 75 makes for a very ‘grown-up’-feeling tipple. It’s perfect for toasting and other special occasions where you want to enjoy a slightly more complex flavour profile without resorting to adding booze into the mix.

You’ll need a cocktail shaker to make it properly – and be sure to serve it in fluted or coupe glasses for that optimal air of refinement!


Fresh lemon juice – roughly half a squeezed lemon for each drink you’re going to serve

Good quality tonic water – the main liquid ingredient, so around half a glass per drink

Lemon or orange bitters – two dashes for each drink being made

Sugar – one teaspoon per drink; very fine white caster sugar works best here, as you don’t want the drink to have a granular texture (alternatively you can use a simple sugar syrup, made and cooled in advance)

Ice – cubed, enough to fill the cocktail shaker about 2/3 of the way up


Tip your ice cubes into the cocktail shaker and allow to sit for a few seconds. Add your freshly squeezed lemon juice and fine white sugar (or sugar syrup), along with a couple of dashes of bitters for each drink you’re pouring – a full standard cocktail shaker will typically make two drinks. Shake well until the mixture is nicely chilled, then strain into two flutes or coupe glasses; the mixture should come about a third of the way up a standard flute. Top up in the glass with good quality fresh tonic water, and garnish with a slice of lemon (you can add a stirrer if using flutes).


 Article provided by Plato Catering Hire

Stowe School

Where: Buckinghamshire.. mid-way between the M1 and M40, near Silverstone.

What: THE most amazing, mind-boggling, perfect piece of 18th Century real-estate ever.. house, gardens, lakes, 40 monuments. You can get married in the marble hall, a stunning oval space surmounted by a perfect oval dome – drinks then in the south portico with a world-class view, before dinner in the State Dining Room. You will feel like Royalty!

Weddings: Licenced for weddings.

Who: Becky or Sam are soooo attentive and brilliant at the detail, you’ll never be in safer hands.. e-mail Becky at



The Wedding A-List (Wedding Planner)

Sarah, founder of The Wedding A-List is a superstar!

Sarah’s business was born following her own wedding planning experiences. As a busy professional, Sarah organised TWO weddings – one of which we (Kemp and Kemp) catered. Knowing what it is like to be a busy bride-to-be, she set up The Wedding A-List to offer a helping hand to like minded professionals.

Sarah is highly organised, creative and very lovely too.  You can contact Sarah directly on or visit her website:

Want to Get Married in Summer 2018 But Have Nothing Planned?

Here’s What to Do…

You’re undoubtedly looking forward to getting married. You might have settled on the date a while ago and suddenly you look at the calendar – it’s already January!

You’re getting married in summer 2018 and your wedding day is approaching fast – perhaps just a little too fast. Especially as you haven’t organised anything yet…

Fear not, as there is still time to get planning and arrange your 2018 summer wedding. It won’t be too stressful either.

Here’s what you need to do:


Sort out the guest list

The most important thing to do is to finalise your guest list. The number of people you’re going to invite will influence many of the other things – your venue, the catering and even the entertainment.

Once you know how many people you’re going to have there, you can tailor everything else around this number.

Sort it out as soon as possible to move on to the other details.


Create a wedding budget

You can then set a budget for your big day. This is crucial.

Because the cost of getting married has increased, budgeting will help you make better decisions.

It allows you to pick priorities – do you care more about the floral arrangements or the catering? You can always adjust your budget as your planning progresses but it’s beneficial to start with estimations.

You might have to make some tough decisions and drop some things you’d really liked to have had for your wedding, but it’s better than planning the whole thing and realising you either can’t afford it or now have a massive credit card bill.


Pick a wedding theme

Before you book a wedding venue, entertainment and buy the wedding dress: pick a wedding theme. If you have a specific theme you want, it will influence the other parts of your planning. Creating a medieval themed wedding is a lot easier in an actual castle rather than a super-modern ballroom!

Your wedding theme can be anything – you can use a specific colour combination, a historic era, your favourite movie and so on. You can be as specific or as broad with your ideas as you want.


Book the venue and catering

Finding the right venue can be the hardest part of planning a wedding this close to your ideal date. Some of the most popular venues are booked as far as two to three years in advance. Summer is a busy time and if you’ve not yet booked your wedding venue, chances are you might not get your first choice, especially if you’re not willing to budge on the date.

Start by considering your venue and narrow down the search based on location and the type. Do you want an outdoor venue? Would you prefer a venue that allows you to provide your own catering? Do you want venue with a specific feature, such as a lake nearby?

It’s important to be clear about what you want from the venue. For example, certain venues might have different policies regarding things like wedding bands, wedding fireworks and catering. Ask questions for everything you want to know, and find a venue that meets your demands.

You can take advantage of venue directories online and use them to find your dream venue.

When booking the venue, you can also sort out your catering. You might book it together with the venue or opt to have an outside caterer create your dream menu.


Move on to finer details

That wasn’t so bad, right?

As soon as you clear the above hurdles from your way, you’re almost there. After that, it just becomes about fine-tuning and adding elements that turn your wedding from good to great.

The next big things on your list are:

  • Wedding Invitations. Send these out six to eight weeks before the date.
  • Your Wedding Outfit. What are you wearing? If you’re having a themed wedding, then this may require some focus. Do bridesmaids or others featuring in the wedding need to match?
  • Your Wedding Entertainment. Find a DJ or a wedding band that fits your theme. Choose a professional with plenty of wedding experience – it guarantees you create the right ambience and your guests enjoy the party.

You don’t have to go crazy at this point. Think about table card designs and napkin colours later. When you have the above sorted, you can move on to these extra elements, like the floral arrangements, placement cards, and the politics of who is going to sit where.

Most importantly, enjoy the planning process!

Even though your summer 2018 wedding is only months away, you still have plenty of time to sort things out and create the wedding of your dreams.

Hilton Hall

Where: South Staffordshire and close to M6 and M54.

What: A superb 18th Century mansion surrounded by an ancient moat which is in turn surrounded by mature parkland, walled gardens and open fields. There are several suites in the house you can use for smaller weddings and then there is a fully equipped marquee in the grounds that can take up to 650 guests.

Weddings: Three rooms/spaces are licensed for weddings including the circular, domed and unique Victorian glass and wrought-iron summerhouse next to the moat.

Who: The ever-helpful Alana is available to assist you on 01902 249247 or e-mail her on




Cool Ingredients for a Magical Winter Wedding

There are lots of great reasons to opt for a winter wedding rather than going the more predictable summertime route.

For one thing, it’s likely to work out a fair bit cheaper if you’re not trying to compete with everyone else at the height of summer’s peak wedding season. Venue hire is the single biggest area you stand to save on: renting a space can cost you half in December, January or February what the same location would do in June-August.

On top of that, you can really go to town for a winter wedding; creating a cosy, romantic wonderland for your guests – the colder months are truly the time when the increasingly trendy hygge style really comes into its own.

Make use of glinting fairy lights, intimate candle glow, crisp winter evergreens, and encourage your guests, bridesmaids or groomsmen to dress in more vibrant jewel tones than they typically would for a more delicate, pastel-shaded summer garden environment.


There are a few other great décor and food ideas we’d always recommend you consider for your winter weddings, including:


Start with white

Reflecting that most picturesque of winter weathers – gentle drifts of pure driven snow – you can use a predominantly white theme for winter weddings that feels both traditional and whimsical, yet modern, clean-lined and minimalist.

However, a touch of minimalism needn’t be boring in the slightest: selecting pure white linens and coverings as the basis of your colour scheme effectively creates a blank canvas for you to play around on to your heart’s content. We suggest pairing crisp, clean expanses of white with little flourishes of silver, gold and deep, seductive jewel tones – ruby, amethyst, sapphire and jade – to create a cosy and truly magical ‘Aladdin’s cave’ vibe that will warm the cockles of all attendees.


Serve spiced soups and mulled drinks

Planning catering options for winter weddings also gives you a great chance to deliver some real crowd-pleasers. There’s just no denying that a steaming pot of creamy, nutty, velvety seasonal soup, lifted with festive spices (and perhaps served with an oven-warm crusty garlic bread) is just fundamentally more alluring on a basic human level than any scattering of fridge-chilled canapes.

Mulled wines, ciders, cinnamon-spiked hot toddies and buttery rum punches also appeal to similar hard-wired comfort-seeking instincts. And, for those not looking for a double warming whammy of heat and alcohol, why not try setting up a DIY hot chocolate bar, where guests can personalise a lush cocoa mix with any number of sweet treats and toppings?


Bring the outdoors in

With its romantic imagery of snow-speckled pines, vibrant holly, romantic mistletoe, glistening berries and aromatic chestnuts, winter is a fantastic season for giving nature pride of place at weddings – and what better way to do so than by making use of the vast range of wreaths, runners and garlands we all associate with the festive season?

These little oases of deep forest green, ruby red, soft browns and pearlescent white are an uncomplicated way to turn any bleak midwinter scene into an instant Narnia. Pine cones, winter fruits and baskets of nuts can be adorned with all manner of artistic decorative touches and used as place markers, ornaments and even traditional costume accessories for a stunningly different organic look.


Additional top tips for a smoother winter wedding:

Keep it to one venue if you can. You don’t want your guests to have to keep switching locations, particularly if the weather is harsh when getting around town in your finery can be complicated and expensive. If a single location isn’t possible, try to find somewhere where the reception area is as close to the actual service venue as you can manage.

Leave blankets, shawls and wraps by exits for those that will want to pop outside now and then. You can also set up fire pits or chimeneas for cosier outdoor spaces that people will want to linger and chat in with a glass of something warming.

Encourage people to bring a sensible pair of shoes as backup. Nobody will want to be wearing wellies or hiking boots on the dancefloor, of course – but in the depths of winter, it’s usually a fair bet that anyone who doesn’t have anything sturdier than strappy sandals in their car boot will soon wish that they did!

Plan travel in advance, allow more time, and have several ‘plan Bs’ in place. If you’re unlucky – or lucky, depending on your perspective – you may even end up being snowed on. That’s a fantastic slice of good fortune in terms of your wedding photos, of course…assuming the photographer can still make it. If not, who’s been nominated to step in? Is there someone on hand who can fix makeup and hair in the event of a sudden flurry, gale or shower?

Factor in extra room and personnel for coat, bag and shoe check-ins. Everyone will be turning up with a lot more baggage for a winter wedding than they would for a summer wedding, so plan accordingly and make sure you don’t end up having to give up half your venue space to an enormous mound of damp parkas, gumboots and snoods!

Article provided by Plato Catering Hire

Tarte au Citroën (Mobile Coffee, Tea & Cake Company)

Artisan Coffee, Luxury Tea and Home-made Cake

This 1963 vintage Citroën  H van (called Nicole) brings amazing coffee (plus tea, hot chocolate and a range of home-made cordials, cola and lemonade) to the Midlands. Kate uses the very best ingredients including Staffordshire’s own Shining Stone coffee beans.

This fab looking ‘bake-off’-esque vehicle can be hired for your wedding and decorated with ‘just married’ bunting.

Kate is looking to serve alcohol in the very near future, to include summery limoncello and prosecco cocktails and espresso martinis – developed by Lichfield’s Fifth Spire Gin Company.

Email Kate on or visit her website: to find out more about Nicole, Kate and her home-made cakes!





Peak District Holiday Barn

What: The Peak District Holiday Barn is exactly that – a large (but wonderfully cosy) self catering holiday barn. There is lots of room for guests to stay over and plenty of socialising space!

Where: The Peak District Holiday Barn is near to Tideswell in the heart of the Derbyshire Peak District. A great base for the adventurers among you.

Weddings: Not yet licenced for civil ceremonies, but a perfect place for pre and post wedding celebrations. Lots of ‘weddingy’ space – a lawned garden (ideal for a marquee), a BBQ area and even an outdoor pizza oven (yum!).  The friendly folk next door also offer their camping facilities for extra guests.

From May 2018 there will be a dedicated wedding barn for 120 guests as well as a games room and facilities. We’re also very excited about the new wood burning Scandinavian hot tub for guests to use!

Who: The lovely Amanda and Mark will help to make sure that you have everything you need for your intimate wedding. You can get in touch by calling Amanda on 07525 051226 or mark on 07791667027, or email

Peak District Barn Weddings Peak District Barn Weddings Peak District Barn Weddings





Wedding venues in Derbyshire
Barn Wedding Venues



Darwin Lake – Peak District Holiday Village

What: Darwin Lake is a breathtaking exclusive wedding venue set in 10 acres of natural woodland. The perfect setting for a weekend or mid-week wedding break with accommodation for up to 110 guests on site. This beautiful village includes a private lake and lawns, the charming Darwin Hall and 17 four star, stone built cottages – all wonderfully decorated and each named after local, historical landmarks. Make sure you head to the lake to watch the sunrise and sunset it’s truly magical.

Where: Hidden away in the very heart of Derbyshire’s Peak District, with rolling hills and pine forests. Just three miles from Matlock.

Weddings: They are licenced for civil wedding ceremonies and have two large function rooms within Darwin Hall, which can seat up to 130 people on either floor. You never have to leave!

Who: Maurice will make sure that you have everything you need for your mini wedding holiday. You can get in touch by calling 01629 735859 or email


Darwin Lake Wedding Village Darwin Lake Wedding Village Darwin Lake Wedding Village





Images courtesy of Frances Milburn & Lifeline Photography

More Independent Wedding Venues in Derbyshire > 

Somersal Cottages

What: Somersal Cottages is the perfect rural retreat for a whole weekend of wedding fun! This venue has ample garden space for a large marquee or Tipi wedding, with accommodation for around 80 guests in 31 bedrooms. For smaller weddings, they can comfortably seat up to 40 guests without the need for a marquee.

Arrive at the venue on Friday afternoon, celebrate your wedding day on the Saturday and carry on the celebrations on Sunday with a lazy brunch or BBQ before returning home. This self catering venue allows you to do things your own way, in true Independent Wedding style.

Where: The cottages are situated in the small countryside village of Somersal Herbert in Derbyshire. Just a short stroll away from Somersal Church.

Weddings: Not licenced, but just a short walk away from the beautiful St Peter & St Blaise Church, or 15 minutes from Ashbourne Registration Office.

Who: Bridget will do all she can to help you with the preparations and planning for your wedding weekend. You can get in touch with her by phone: 01283 840252, or email:

Web: Somersal Cottages website: