8 Drinks to Avoid at a Wedding Reception

An aerial shot of people toasting at a wedding.

Wedding receptions aren’t always the easiest social settings to navigate. And when it comes to drinks, things can get tricky, for varying reasons. We’ve seen a lot of folks who don’t normally lose it succumb to the strange, exhilarating allure of an open bar. No one wants to be a babysitter at a wedding for a buddy who has let their celebrating get out of hand. And those paying the check definitely don’t want to see a bunch of bombed guests too far gone to enjoy the reception.

The key to maximizing your fun while minimizing any embarrassing behavior is to lay a food foundation. Eat a great breakfast with both carbohydrates and protein in the morning, and make sure that you hydrate before the event. By drinking a bunch of water beforehand, you’ll help mitigate some of the dehydration that comes with drinking. You’ll also be better able to handle your alcohol. Remember, no one wants to be that wasted person in the wedding video, or to be the one sleeping in the corner an hour after dinner.

1. Shots

Shots are sometimes a great idea—but not so much at wedding receptions. Let’s just say that no one wants their wedding to turn into a frat party. Save the shots and power hour for more appropriate occasions. Avoiding shots is an easy way to avoid feeling like you’ve been backed over by a dump truck the next morning, especially if there’s a wedding brunch with friends and family involved.

2. Too Many IPAs

Many of us can swill beer all day, but sometimes pounding IPAs (India pale ales) can leave you feeling too buzzed, too fast. You might want to alternate an IPA with a “dad beer” at an emotionally charged event like a wedding where you may need more lubrication than usual to chat with strangers or nosy family members.

3. Flavored Liquors

A group of fruity drinks on a table at a wedding.

These can make your stomach feel less than pleasant as the night wears on, and can increase feelings of dehydration. As a general rule, the more colorful the drink, the worse it is for you. Stick to thinks like moscow mules, whiskey gingers, and gin and tonics.

4. Doubles

Ordering doubles at a reception can make some sense if the lines for the bar are long, but this often is not the case. Stick to singles, and play the long game at an event. Another strategy for drinking hard liquor is to not order a glass of water between drinks, like many recommend (who remembers to do that, anyway?), but to order a whiskey drink and water at the same time. Alternate sipping from them.

5. Champagne or Other Fizzy Drinks (Before Your Speech)

A grouping of pink champagne with lavender sprigs in them.

This is a helpful tip few people consider. That’s right—remember to wait until after you’re going to talk in front of everyone to imbibe the fizzy stuff. It could cause a few embarrassing issues of your own when you’re trying to put the bride on the spot.

6. The Punch

You know what I’m talking about here: that mystery punch sitting in huge containers on the bar counter. We remember this stuff from college. You don’t know what’s in it, but it’s guaranteed to leave you reeling. Our advice? Avoid the punch unless there’s not enough booze at the reception, or unless you’re aiming to get wasted. Oh, and remember to check your mirrors often, as the punch tends to leave some color behind on your tongue and around your mouth.

7. Unfamiliar Cocktails

A group of friends drinking cocktails at a wedding reception.

For those who don’t drink much, wedding receptions may not be the best place to try out a cocktail you’ve never had before. Simply put, you could end up with something you’re not quite ready for.

8. Too Much Liquor Right Away

All of us understand the urge to get some drink in you at these events, especially after a long wedding ceremony sitting next to your Aunt Janet, who won’t stop asking when you’re going to tie the knot yourself. But downing too much liquor can’t end well. Go slowly at first, and build up to a good buzz so that you’ll still be in commission by the time the dancing starts. Of course, sometimes the bars only stay open until dinner, or close right after, so you’ll want to take this into account.

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