As someone who lives in Wisconsin, the state which harbors 12 of the 20 drunkest cities in the United States, alcohol is not just a drink or a pastime, it's a way of life. The expectation for most- if not all- social gatherings is to drink the night away. At weddings, it feels mandatory to have an open bar for your guests and clean up after their drunken escapades in the morning. If parts of the wedding party aren't passed out in the bushes by 2AM, did you even have a reception? Though drinking culture may not be as intense in other parts of the country (or the world), this is a topic that really drives home for me. If I'm ever so lucky as to get married, one of my stipulations is that I want my wedding to be a dry wedding (although there is some room for compromise there). Let's explore it a little bit because despite peer pressure, your wedding day is YOURS and you deserve to celebrate however makes you most comfortable (even if that means leaving alcohol out of the night).
There Are So Many Reasons Not to Drink
If you're like me, you're just a sober person. There are so many reasons to abstain from alcohol in this day and age, ranging from recovery from alcohol abuse, to religious reasons, to knowing alcoholism runs in your family, to disinterest in drinking, to having medications that don't mix well with alcohol, to knowing you need to treat mental health issues before imbibing... There are so many various reasons from all walks of life and not all of them include trauma. Just to clarify: You don't have to justify your choice to others if you don't want to because, frankly, it's none of their business.
It's okay if you choose not to drink at all. It's okay if you choose to drink in real moderation. It's okay if you choose to drink only in environments where you feel truly safe.
Don't ever let anyone pressure you into drinking alcohol when you're not comfortable (that goes for drinkers and non-drinkers alike).
Alternatives to Drinking on Your Wedding Day
Sparkling grape juice is a great alternative to bubbly, especially if you choose to abstain on your wedding day, but don't ask your wedding party to join you in that way. Sparkling grape juice preserves the aesthetic while being non-alcoholic.
You can always put together themed mocktails for your special day, which will still make your drinks special and highlight the fact that this day is about you and your spouse - not the imbibements of the night.
Try having your ceremony in the late morning and your reception in the early afternoon if you're worried that your guests will be disappointed that there isn't a full bar service. People are less likely to want to drink earlier in the day anyway, so there shouldn't be any hopes dashed if you celebrate earlier in the day. Not an early riser? Depending on your wedding's theme, you could have a tea time reception instead.
Non-alcoholic beer and wine options can make sense for some of your guests if they're looking for the taste of their favorite party drinks. You can always ask your caterer if they have any suggestions or ask your wedding planner if this sounds like a good idea for the demographics of guests you're expecting.
Compromises to Help Your Fiancé
Your fiancé might have a different tolerance to drinking than you do, which is totally okay! As I mentioned above, if you're comfortable letting other people drink while you abstain, you can easily find compromises to make sure your wedding day is enjoyable for your significant other, too! Great options to limit the amount your guests drink are:
offer a bar with a limited amount of drinks
offer a bar only for a certain amount of time
only pass out drinks during a designated cocktail hour and not at the reception
only have drinks during dinner and not at the reception
ask any wait staff you may hire to keep an eye on your guests' consumption so things don't get out of hand
The only option I don't recommend is having a cash bar because although it does effectively lower the consumption of your guests, it's also often seen as you asking your guests to pay for an event you invited them to.
If someone won't come to your wedding because you choose to not have alcohol or limit alcohol on your special day, they probably don't value you or your significant other enough to have a place in your wedding. That's a harsh truth, but if a drink is more important to them than celebrating your love is, your wedding isn't where they need to be.
I hope this has given you some ideas as to how to navigate a dry (or mostly-dry) wedding and has given you the confidence to do what makes you happy on your wedding day. Let me know what you think in the comments below!
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