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Alcohol and Wedding Etiquette

Alcohol and weddings are a tricky combination. Everybody wants their wedding to be a perfect event out of a fairy tale, but alcohol has a reputation of making sure things don’t go as planned. What would happen if an overly intoxicated guest stole center stage during your grand appearance? How would you feel if a guest overindulged in alcohol and destroyed the wedding cake right before it was served? How would you deal with a guest who has become, loud and belligerent after drinking too much? How can you provide your guests with a bar and a fun party without things getting too boozy?

Control How Much Guests Can Consume

To prevent too much alcohol from ruining your glorious day, you need to control how much your guests consume. Since many couples feel an open bar is necessary to keep their guests happy, controlling alcohol at weddings can be difficult. However, there are ways to allow drinking at wedding receptions while avoiding overindulgence.

One easy method is to limit bar hours. Since most guests will perceive the open bar as extremely generous, they may not think twice if the bar is only open at specific times. There are two main options for limiting the time the open bar is actually available:

  • Have the bar open for a brief period at the start of the reception, close it during dinner service, then reopen it briefly after dinner is complete
  • Have an open bar for the first two to four hours of the reception, and close it well before the reception is over

The DJ will be able to announce when the bar is opening or closing so that guests know when drinks will be available and when they will not be available.

Limit Alcohol Selections

A fully stocked bar makes it easy for your guests to overindulge in drinking at wedding receptions. An acceptable alternative is to have basic beer and wine selections while limiting the types of liquor and mixed drinks on hand. A limited selection will potentially keep your guests from overindulging.

Another option is to forego the open bar completely for a table-by-table service. By paying the wait staff at your reception to take drink orders from your guests, either table by table or by circulating throughout the crowd with a tray, you are providing alcohol, but making it slightly more difficult to access.

You may also choose to provide two popular bottles of wine at each table. While guests share their spirits with others, it becomes difficult for any one individual to overindulge.

Finally, instead of straight alcohol, you can serve a free punch that is light in alcohol content. This spiked beverage option is another way to enable people to drink without providing them the means to get drunk.

Prepare for the Worst

Unfortunately, despite your best efforts in planning, there is no way to predict how much alcohol your guests will consume during your wedding reception. You must prepare for the possibility of an overindulgent friend or relative.

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