Two questions came to APW recently, both regarding not having a sober wedding. First, Court:
“Here’s my question – have you ever had a wedding graduate who (either the bride or groom or both) are in recovery, so it was an alcohol-free wedding, reception (rehearsal, everything)? Before Grant went through treatment at the beginning of 2009, I would have thought going to a wedding without alcohol would be horrible and, if I’m being honest, would have judged it. I didn’t understand addiction, and didn’t understand why the person in recovery couldn’t be around alcohol. As it has been put to me now, which I do understand is “if you go to the barber shop long enough, you’re gonna leave with a haircut.” The important thing is for Grant to stay in recovery.
We love our new lives here. We are so excited to get married, and stay on this path to being happy and healthy. I’m wondering how to explain to people that it will be a dry wedding weekend, and how that is not the point. That Grant and I found each other, that we are making it in a relationship with his disease (addiction) and my disease (depression), and that we want to keep doing it every day – that’s the point.”
Amanda also had the same question:
“My fiance & I are getting married in the fall (wheeee!) and are having a full dinner & dance reception after our ceremony. We are not, however, serving any alcohol. While we both enjoy a bevvie (especially when dancing!), we chose to have a dry wedding to respect our MOH and a groomsman who both cannot drink due to medication requirements. Also, there is a single cousin on both sides who tends to become a mean drunk.
Rather than alcoholic beverages, we are serving Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider, sparkling water, and a signature punch (from a champagne fountain, no less). There will be wine glasses to drink from, and no lack of garnish. In other words, a classy & very “us” beverage selection; one that just happens to also be non-alcoholic.
My dilemma is this: everyone keeps referring to the alcohol that they are assuming will be served. “It doesn’t matter what songs are played, but more which liquor is served!”; “I can’t wait to get sloppy and find the single guys”; and the list goes on…
Should I tell people upfront that liquor will not be served? If so, do I provide the (rather personal) reason for this? Or do I just let people travel 800+ KM to our wedding and chance them being disappointed? Really – if someone would choose not to attend my wedding due to no liquor, they aren’t a good friend of mine. That said, I don’t feel the need to run around telling people the wedding will be dry (as that is SO not the focus of the day!). So I am stuck. Suggestions?? Advice??”
The short answer is, “Eff ‘em. If they need booze to have a good time, then they have bigger problems than not enjoying your wedding.”
What? You want more?
GOD. This gig is going to be harder than I thought.
Okay, the big problem here is a matter of not wanting to offend. We talk so much about it being YOUR wedding, but NOT your day. And that’s true. However, both readers (and anyone else with this dilemma) have very real and important reasons to not have alcohol at their wedding. Even if the reason is monetary or just personal beliefs, there’s no reason you HAVE to have alcohol at your wedding. If the guests are old enough to get themselves to your wedding, they are old enough to wait a couple of hours until they can get a drink with friends. That’s what wedding after-parties are for. There is plenty of time to get sloppy and make bad romantic decisions at a bar or house-party after the happy couple has ridden off into the sunset. Just like your guests will survive if they have finger sandwiches instead of a sit-down dinner, they will be okay with the beverages that you provide in lieu of beer, wine or liquor. If they get really upset about it, make them sit with their head between their knees as you rub their back and whisper “This too shall pass.” Then plan an A&E-style Intervention because it’s obviously needed.
But you ladies know this. The reason I’m reiterating is because the underlying problem is a matter of owning your decision. Alcohol is a big part of our social structure, but it does not have to be. You don’t have anything to apologize to your guests for, nor do you owe anyone an explanation. You’re both being completely admirable in thinking about the tone you want to set for your wedding and it’s not one that includes embarrassing or angry behavior by certain drinkers and uncomfortable silence by the teetotalers or responsible drinkers.
But here comes that harder part – actually dealing with people who bring up drinking at your wedding beforehand. There’s a couple of ways to deal with this. If the people are close to you, you can just let them know there won’t be alcohol and the reasons why. If they respect you, they’ll respect your decision. (There may still be whining, but they’ll respect it.)
But if that’s not an option, take a tip that I’ve learned from moms and teachers – don’t make an issue out of it. If they mention they can’t wait to get sh*t-faced at your reception and hit on your hot cousin, just say, “Oh, we’ve decided not to have alcohol at the wedding.” There’ll be “no way” ’s and “Aww, really” ’s and “What? WHY?” ’s, but just continue to reiterate that you and your fiancé made the decision not to have it. Resist the urge to get defensive because honestly there’s nothing to defend and it’s really NOT a big deal. Also resist the urge to get self-righteous in your decision because, well, nobody likes that guy.
Also, Court, your fiancé’s sobriety is wonderful and something, I think, worth celebrating. Think about including in your invitations or program some recognition of it. As in, “In honor of Grant’s 2 years of sobriety, the reception will be alcohol-free.” It’s out there, it’s owned and it’s admired. AND, anyone who complains about no booze after that will look like a total d*ck. Bonus.
But in the end, it is your decision and they will live with it. You’re not banning alcohol from their LIVES, just your wedding. And I raise a glass of sparkling apple juice to you both. (Seriously, that stuff is kinda tasty.)
So APW’ers, have you had a completely sober wedding? What were the reactions and repercussions? Do you regret it? How about some of you who had alcohol at your wedding, if you could go back, would you do it again?