Alcohol is often part of weddings—but it doesn’t have to be. Maybe you and your partner are in recovery, don’t drink for religious or personal reasons, or simply want to have a booze-free affair. Open bars are expensive, after all. Whatever your reason, know it’s perfectly OK to have a sober wedding.
That said, there are a few things to consider when planning a sober party (of any kind, honestly). So, we spoke to expert wedding planners and got their advice on how to go booze-free on your big day. Here are some easy tips on how to plan a sober wedding.
Some guests choose to stay sober at weddings regardless of whether or not alcohol is available. Still, if alcohol won’t be served at your celebration at all, you should let everyone know.
Jessica Lisi, a Toronto-based wedding planner, says couples should tell guests on their wedding invitation and/or through their wedding website that the event will be dry. You don’t need to offer an explanation for your decision, and if people probe, you can tell them as much or as little as you’d like. It’s your day, and you are calling the shots (or lack thereof).
“On the opposite side, if you’re a guest and would like the couple to know you require alcohol-free [drinks] for religious or personal reasons, this should be documented when your RSVP,” Lisi adds.
If you want a totally alcohol-free wedding, consider a location where alcohol isn’t permitted, or you need a special permit to serve it. These can include public spaces like parks, beaches, or gardens. Some religious weddings may be hosted at venues that don’t allow alcohol either.
Also, think about timing. If you want a dry wedding, you may be inclined to have a morning ceremony and brunch or lunchtime reception. Guests are less likely to notice a lack of booze in the day than in the evening, and would happily reach for coffee over a cocktail at 11 a.m.
Weekday or Sunday ceremonies are also great options for sober weddings as folks are not as inclined to want to get wild when they have work the next day.
Let’s face it: Alcohol loosens people’s inhibitions and acts as a social lubricant. After guests have a few cocktails, the dance floor seems to go from empty to crowded. But partying doesn’t need to equal alcohol, Lisi says.
If you’re having a dry wedding, create a non-alcoholic signature drink for cocktail hour. A super tasty beverage will please guests’ tastebuds with or without booze. You can also have a list of booze-free drinks clearly listed at the bar for guests to choose from throughout dinner, too.
If you want guests to have the option of drinking at your wedding should they desire, there are several ways to make that happen. A mostly or partially sober wedding may be a happy middle ground between your desires’ and your guests’.
At the end of the day, both Lisi and Grech stress that you need to do what’s right for you and your partner. Don’t feel pressured to serve alcohol if you don’t want to, and don’t worry about what others will think. Booze or no booze, your wedding is meant to reflect your desires, and it’s a day you’ll want to remember forever.