Weddings are known for crazy drinking almost as much as they are for big cakes. It’s expected and can be a point of contention if you opt not to provide any. But it doesn’t have to be standard to serve alcohol if you don’t want it to be. It’s simply up to each couple. Some may feel the cost is too high, some might have families that just aren’t excited about drinking, or there may be guests that will have a problem with alcohol and the couple wants to avoid trouble. There’s just a lot to think about when deciding whether to serve alcohol or go dry.
Here are some important things to consider before making your choice, as well as some ways to throw a wild, fun reception even without booze.
Think Before You Drink
Analyze Your Decision
Make a pro and con list for serving alcohol at your wedding. Thinking the entire process out is imperative to your wedding planning. Nixing alcohol will lower your costs, for example, but many guests may not be happy with a dry wedding if they’re social drinkers. Knowing your guests’ preferences is particularly important to this analyss. If your friends don’t care too much about drinking, they probably won’t even miss it, but if you have some friends or family members prone to being obnoxious drunks, alcohol may be something you really want to avoid.
Your Binging Budget
Alcohol isn’t cheap. At my wedding, each person cost me $35, regardless of whether whether they actually consumed any. For a wedding with 250 guests, I was throwing out a small fortune just for most people to have a few drinks. Of course, each venue will differ on costs, and there are always ways to cut down. For example, you can have a cash bar where guests pay for their own drinks. This is never a popular choice, but your pocketbook will thank you and guests will usually be a little more conscious of how many they have.
Many venues will allow you to bring your own alcohol so you can scour sales and stock up before the wedding to save some money. It’s up to each couple if alcohol can fit in the budget.
Time of Day
If you’re planning a daytime wedding, guests might not even expect alcohol. They might wonder if mimosas will be served, but they probably won’t be looking for a margarita or wine at 10 AM.
Serve Beer and Wine Only
Many couples choose to serve beer and wine only to compromise a bit. Hard liquor hits many people faster and harder than beer and wine, so serving only the latter eliminates some of the risk of drunk guests. Of course, people can still get a little crazy after a few beers and/or glasses of wine, but shots of vodka will surely knock them over faster. Serving just beer and wine will also save you a bit of money as it is usually less expensive than a full bar.
Wedding Liability Insurance
When I first heard about wedding liability insurance, I was totally lost. Why would I need wedding liability insurance just because I’m serving alcohol? Did you know that in some instances if a guest were to leave your reception intoxicated and had an accident, you could be at fault? No, you didn’t pour the alcohol down their throat and make them drive, but “you” served it to them. Wedding insurance doesn’t just cover people, it can also cover any damages if someone were to harm the venue. Many insurance providers offer different levels of coverage so you can decide what best fits your needs, but some venues can require host liquor liability if alcohol is being served.
Make a Memorable Event Without Alcohol
Non-alcoholic beverages don’t have to be boring. Mixed punches and mocktails (just the mixers) are colorful and tasty, without the sting of alcohol. Serve a few different ones so guests can have a choice based on their preferences, or make a signature one based on the couple! Just have someone watch out for sneaky guests trying to spike it.
Keep Guests In the Know
Guests will be furious if they show up to your wedding only to find out it’s dry. Inform them ahead of time that you will not be serving alcohol so they know what to expect. The absence of alcohol may even relieve several people, like those with infants or small children. It will also let your friends and family know that there will be no need for hotel, taxi, or designated driver arrangements if they were worried about driving drunk.
Pump It Up
Hire a great DJ to keep the party bumping. Great music and fun games help the fun go on all night long even without some liquid courage. Hopefully with a little prompting, guests will get the courage to dance and sing with one another. You’ll still have some guests that choose to be wallflowers, but the right music can pretty much get anyone out on the dance floor.