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How to Host an Alcohol-Free Wedding

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Considering hosting a dry wedding? Learn about the pros and cons of throwing an alcohol-free wedding celebration!

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It’s likely no surprise that one of the biggest wedding reception costs is typically the booze. Let’s be real– open bars can be really expensive. And while there are plenty of ways to cut your bar costs down from full bar service, some couples may not want to serve alcohol at their wedding at all. Surprisingly, this option seems to be increasing in popularity among millennial and gen-z couples.

Have you noticed a number of new non-alcoholic drinks? Whether it’s because we’re often chatting with wedding professionals, looking into venues and menus (complete with great drinks), or spending time on Instagram, we’ve seen an influx of mocktails. And we have to say we’re loving it! Not only is it great news to see non-alcoholic drinks on more and more everyday menus, but it’s also helpful for couples who want to have an alcohol-free wedding. Today, we thought we would answer some of the top questions couples have when planning an alcohol-free wedding to offer as much help as possible. Here’s what to keep in mind!

What is an alcohol-free wedding? (aka a dry wedding?)

A dry wedding truly is an event that’s totally void of alcohol. That means no open bar, no happy hour, no champagne toast. Not a drop of booze on-site for the big day. Not even for the bride, groom, or wedding party!

Why do couples decide to have an alcohol-free wedding?

Choosing to not serve alcohol is largely a personal choice for many couples. However, there are plenty of popular reasons. Some couples simply want everyone to remain sober, and that can be even more of a desire if they’re expecting a lot of kids to be at their wedding.

Others choose to not serve alcohol for religious reasons, while some people keep it off of the menu to save money. Of course, couples might wish to not have alcohol present if they or a loved one are currently in recovery. There are lots of reasons to consider hosting a dry wedding, and they’re all valid!

How do we inform our guests that we’re having a dry wedding reception?

To keep expectations in check (and to not surprise anyone), it’s best to give your guests a heads up about your decision to nix alcohol at your celebration.

Rather than placing this info on your wedding invitations, you can note your plans to have an alcohol-free wedding on your wedding website, or you can ask your wedding party and close family members to help you to spread the word well in advance.

If people know they won’t be able to drink in advance, they can adjust their mindset accordingly before they arrive.

Will guests be upset if we don’t serve alcohol?

If we’re honest, it’s a possibility! Many people associate weddings with great food and great drinks — and to some, a “great drink” is an alcoholic cocktail. Some people might be disappointed to not be able to enjoy their idea of a full experience.

But that’s the key thing to keep in mind: drinking is their idea of a good time. If it’s not yours, honor your own wishes! It’s your wedding after all.

What can we serve if we’re not serving alcohol?

Instead of serving wine, beer, liquor, or spirits, most people hosting a dry wedding will serve non-alcoholic choices such as soda, juice, iced tea, and water. Items like flavored seltzers, lemonades, and fruit-infused water can be fun and refreshing for spring and summer weddings.

Plus, sparkling cider offers a similar bubbly feel that will remind everyone of champagne during toasts. You can also look to mocktails, especially because most cocktails easily transform into virgin recipes and CBD-infused cocktails.

Don’t forget about apple cider, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate or cocoa during the fall and winter. Setting up a self-service coffee bar is a great option. There are so many non-alcoholic beverages to choose from.

Will guests still have fun if they’re not drinking?

Absolutely! Booze is not a requirement to have fun at any event, and that includes a wedding. Consider booking a great band or DJ that’s known for bringing lots of energy and fun to dance floors. Even though people are sober, they can have just as much fun!

Though some people feel like they need some social lubricant for activities like dancing and karaoke, you can provide alternative entertainment for your reception to keep the party going.

Consider add other activities like backyard games for guests to enjoy if you’re hoping to provide extra entertainment. Swap cocktail hour for a game hour! A bonus? You can play the games you purchase for your wedding long after your celebration ends!

Is there anything else we should keep in mind?

Yes! If you are getting married at a wedding venue or working with a caterer, you will need to let your team know you’re not planning to serve alcohol from the start. Most spaces and bar/catering teams build in the cost of alcohol when they’re writing your proposal. You want your caterer to omit alcohol from your catering proposal for a few reasons:

  • You don’t want to pay for it. In order to confirm you’re not paying for alcohol, make sure it’s not listed as a line item on your contract.
  • You might have to meet a minimum spend for your wedding catering package. Without alcohol, you will need (and want) to reallocate that portion of the required spend toward other food items instead.
  • The bar staff at the venue might decide to remove alcohol from sight as well. If guests can’t see it, they won’t think to ask for it.
  • Consider hosting a daytime wedding, as most people wouldn’t typically drink much during the day anyway. You could host a morning ceremony with a brunch reception and skip the alcohol.

If you’re thinking about not serving alcohol at your wedding, move ahead! A great signature mocktail can be just as much fun. Plus, it’s a way to allocate your budget toward serving an incredible menu filled with great food your guests will remember even more.

We’re confident guests will still join you on the dance floor, too. The best part? Your choice to forgo serving alcohol will be in honor of your personal values and priorities, which is the entire point of your wedding day after all.

Are you hosting an alcohol-free wedding? What steps are you taking to make your goal a reality? Have you attended a wedding that didn’t have alcohol on the cocktail menu? What did you enjoy the most? Let’s keep talking in our community!

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