To Drink or Not to Drink?
By Mallory Johnstone and Hannah Holbrook
Ah, wedding planning. With the amount of decisions thrusted upon you, a drink might be needed just to make it to your wedding day. Thrown into the other millions of decisions forced upon you, whether to include alcohol on your big day is one important decision that could save you from experiencing your great Aunt Irene dancing on the bar. Who knows, maybe watching her break it down is something that will fuel your family’s future hilarious memories. Then again, it could potentially scar your significant other’s entire family. All jokes aside, whether to include alcohol at your wedding or keep it dry is a big decision. Let’s look into the pros and cons of a dry wedding as well as some budget friendly alternatives!
Though not including alcohol at your wedding will lead some to scream “borrrrinnngg,” there are some pros to a dry wedding.
- One large perk of having a dry wedding is the amount of money you can save. Cha-Ching! “Money in the bank, shorty what you think?” It’s no surprise that alcohol is not cheap, so taking that out of the equation can help you save substantially. According to the Knot’s 2017 Real Weddings Study, the average amount of money spent on a reception bar/liquor was $2,365. Everyone knows weddings can cost a pretty penny, so saving some money by having a dry wedding is one major pro!
- Having a dry wedding can help ease your mind that no drunken shenanigans will occur on your big day. Let’s be honest, we all know at least one person who likes to let loose, and sometimes, maybe a little too loose. Without the free alcohol option, things are less likely to escalate into something more than just dancing to “The Cupid Shuffle.”
- A dry wedding is a great way to honor wedding guests and family members that are recovering alcoholics. Social gatherings where everyone is drinking are oftentimes triggers for those attempting to break alcohol addictions. If you know that your guest list will include individuals aiming to steer clear of temptation, a dry wedding might be for you.
- You save on wedding liability insurance. 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.
Okay. These are some surprisingly good points, but what are the cons of a dry wedding?
- Nothing gets a party started quicker than a little bit of Nana’s “special juice.” As the great Billy Joel once sang, “It’s a nice day for a wet wedding.” Alright, that wasn’t quite the wordage he used, but alcohol can transform someone from shy Sarah to twerking Tina. The dance floor may be more dead at a dry wedding, because let’s be real, alcohol gives many people the little push they need to get the party started.
- It goes against expectations. Most people expect to be able to enjoy a drink, or a half dozen, while attending a wedding. Being told that they can’t might lead to disappointment for some. Be sure to communicate your desire to have a dry wedding with your guests to avoid disappointment and unmet expectations on the day of your wedding.
Not sure if you want to go completely dry? Never fear, there are plenty of other money saving options for your wet wedding- check them out!
The “Wine and Beer Only” Option – Specialty drinks and liquor can easily rev up your alcohol costs. If you know you want to offer drinks to your guests but are on a tight budget, go for a more limited selection of alcohol: wine and beer only, sangria only, etc.
The “Cash-Bar” Option – While controversial, if your budget truly doesn’t allow for alcohol and guests really need a drink to get through the evening, this is a great option.
The “Brunch Wedding” Option – People generally consume less alcohol earlier in the day. At a brunch wedding, you can serve mimosas or bloody Marys, providing guests with the liquid fun they desire, while still saving on overall alcohol costs.
The “Close the Bar Early” or “Cocktail Hour” Option – Instead of getting rid of the booze completely, consider limiting the time that people have access to your bar.
The “BYOB” Option – Again, while controversial, if your wedding is more casual (think backyard wedding), or your venue allows for it, feel free to explore the BYOB option. While some guests may object, this gives guests the opportunity to bring what they like. Maybe you have friends that are homebrewers or an uncle that has a killer margarita recipe that everyone loves; a BYOB wedding might be perfect.
Whatever option you’re leaning toward, when it comes to serving alcohol — or not –making sure you, your fiancé and your family are comfortable with the decision is more important than trying to please anyone else, even your guests. You know what you do and don’t want at your wedding. You also probably know your guests well enough to assess which offering would suit them best. Talk it over with your closest family and friends, and ask previous brides how they’ve handled it at their weddings (and what results they’ve had).
And, whichever way you go, cheers!