Can We Have an Open Bar with Teetotaling Family?

Anti-alcohol family, but friends want a drink

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Q: We are getting married in the next couple of months and there has been some strain over whether or not to provide an open bar. Both of us are professionals (lawyer and doctor) and think it would be kind of weird for us not to have an open bar—it’s kind of expected. Still on my side of the family, there is a member of the family who is very much against alcohol.

My grandfather has never had a drop of alcohol and is very much against it. There is a story in our family that my grandfather wouldn’t talk to my grandmother after she had a sip of wine in Europe. Now, my grandfather is otherwise a wonderful and reasonable man, but my father is very worried that having alcohol at the wedding will cause problems. I also have a really good relationship with my grandfather, and I am worried about letting him down as well.

We are also having several more conservative members of my small town community at our wedding, and my father is worried about them being upset as well. Our solution is that my fiancé is willing to foot the entire bill on everything connected to alcohol so that my family can say they weren’t involved. Still, my father is upset, and my grandfather probably will be upset. Honestly, I don’t really care whether or not we have anything (I mean sugar and coffee is more my style), but my fiancé really wants to have an open bar for his friends. This is the only thing he wants for our wedding. Do you have any advice for dealing with anti-alcohol family members with a minimum amount of drama? Should I sit down with my grandfather ahead of time, or just not say anything?


When combining different parts of your life it can be difficult to please everyone. Your partner really wants the open bar and some of your family members won’t like it one bit.

You need to decide whose feelings, emotions and reactions are most important to you before going forward. If you do decide to go with the open bar, it might be best to give grandpa a heads up so that he has some time to take this information in before he’s blindsided and upset on your wedding day.

Did you make any compromises at your wedding to appease your Family or guests? Was alcohol at your wedding an issue with your family? what did you do? 

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