Oftentimes, when you ask someone what their favorite part of a wedding is, they’ll say two words: open bar.
Alcohol has come to be synonymous with wedding receptions, so much so that having a themed cocktail is now almost expected.
There could be a laundry list of reasons you don’t want alcohol at your wedding.
Maybe you or your spouse is in recovery from an alcohol addiction, and you want to be supportive of them. Maybe your family has a history of drinking too much and making a scene. Perhaps you just don’t have the budget to pay for expensive drinks for all your guests.
Whatever your reason, there are a few routes you can take to have a beautiful, fun, and dry wedding:
Have you been open with your friends and family about your struggle with addiction? If so, chances are they’ll applaud your decision to keep your wedding alcohol-free and will support you in your decision.
If you haven’t shared your addiction with everyone on your guest list — fret not. There are many other subtle ways you can make your wishes known.
Have Your Wedding Earlier
Many people don’t love drinking during the day and abide by the “don’t drink until after 5pm” mantra.
An easy way to use this to your favor is to have your wedding earlier in the day. If your wedding is over by mid-afternoon or early evening, people won’t feel like they’re missing out on an evening of drinking.
*An added bonus: having your wedding earlier may also get you a better rate for your venue.
Choose an Alcohol-Free Venue
There are many breathtaking venues that don’t allow alcohol altogether, particularly outdoor locations like parks, lakes, and beaches.
If you were wanting to hold your wedding at a similar location anyway, look into some options that prohibit alcohol from their grounds. Now, you can explain that the decision to be alcohol-free is out of your hands.
Explain That It’s a Safety Risk
Many people who get married in remote locations are always concerned about how their guests are going to get back to their lodgings. Drinking a lot and then driving an hour? Not a good combo.
For this reason, you can explain you chose to not tempt fate and not offer alcohol altogether.
Along the same lines, if you’re getting married at a mountain-top villa or ski resort, the high altitude can lead to much more intense reactions to alcohol. Rather than having to worry about people’s health, you chose not to offer alcohol.
Say You Want a Kid-Friendly Reception
Inviting children to your nuptials? It’s perfectly acceptable to not want kids hanging out around a bunch of drunken wedding guests.
You can simply state that since you are hosting a child-friendly wedding, you aren’t going to have alcohol present.
Give People a Head’s Up
Many times, issues arise at dry weddings because people didn’t know ahead of time. Avoid that by giving them a head’s up before they arrive.
Feel free to be creative in how you do this. On your RSVP, you could include a fill-in-the blank section that says:
“Since we’re having a dry wedding, let us know your favorite mocktail!”
A simple note ahead of time will go a long way towards keeping people from openly complaining on your day.
Offer Other Delicious Drink and Food Options
Some people simply like the feeling of holding a drink while they’re at a social event. If you provide something else to go in their cup, you may be able to dissuade some of their anxiety.
Instead of alcohol, you could have a fancy coffee bar full of different variations of cappuccino and mochas. Or for a caffeine-free option, you could offer a hot chocolate bar with loads of different sweets to dress their cups.
For a more refreshing option, you could have different types of freshly squeezed lemonade or juices, or even build-your-own smoothies with a variety of fruit options.
On the food spectrum, make sure your guests are well-fed and have plenty of tasty options. Consider going for more unique, memorable options, like different food trucks or a build-your-own crepe station.
Try to think of food and drink options that complement the theme of your wedding and are personalized to you and your future spouse.
Some guests feel they’re “owed” a certain level of hospitality, since they’ve made the trip to your wedding and given you a gift.
Free booze is usually high on the reciprocation list; so if you’re not offering that, try to think of other ways your guests can still feel appreciated.
You can have lots of yard games to keep them occupied and having fun the whole evening. You can give them nicer-than-average wedding favors, even customizing them for each guest. You could even hire performers like acrobats or magicians to keep them entertained and laughing throughout the day.
These options of course all come at a higher price tag. If you’re working under a budget, prioritize what feels right to you.
Don’t Feel the Need to Explain
At the end of the day, your wedding is your day. You get to choose every detail of your ceremony and reception, from the dress to the bridal party to your drinks.
You shouldn’t have to spend your evening explaining why you chose to forgo alcohol. Consider putting a tasteful sign at the front of your reception hall that explains that no alcohol will be served. Or one next to the food and non-alcoholic beverages.
If someone does approach you about your decision to have a dry wedding on your big day, feel free to be brief. “We didn’t want alcohol distracting from the celebration. Thanks so much for being here with us.”
If someone throws a fit even after your explanation, feel free to excuse yourself. You want to be with the people you love most on your wedding day; anyone who is that upset that alcohol isn’t being served may not have been there for the right reasons in the first place.
If you or a loved one is currently struggling with an alcohol addiction, please seek support. To learn more about personalized, luxury residential addiction treatment, go to The Exclusive Hawaii.
Written by Emily Mast