Just like hot chocolate and marshmallows, alcohol and weddings are an associated match. They go hand-in-hand. Alcohol is incorporated into almost every part of most people’s wedding days. From pre-morning anticipation drinks for dutch courage to champagne receptions and toasts. For most couples and most guests, it’s a must. But, what happens if you’re not drinking? If you’re a sober couple or a teetotal guest, sometimes this can be difficult.
With around 30% of Brits that don’t drink alcohol, we wanted some expert advice on the subject matter. Janey Lee Grace who runs The Sober Club and our Director Kate Beavis, who’s been sober for 8 years, join today’s discussion on how to navigate a wedding if you or your guests are teetotal and why you should have a dry wedding if you want too…
Janey Lee – “In my first year of sobriety I made sure I was fully prepped when attending any functions, I’m now 5 years and run The Sober Club and am the author of Happy Healthy Sober – ditch the booze and take control of your life”
Kate Beavis – “It can be hard to go to events as a sober person. From being questioned as to why you are not drinking to being called boring – I’ve had it all. But the best bit is surely waking up the next day without a hangover!”
Whether it’s you or your partner that’s sober or you have guests that aren’t drinking (for whatever reason) you want to make an inclusive day that isn’t necessarily focussed around alcohol and ultimately won’t lead them to feel left out of the celebrations. There are so many reasons why people don’t drink:
Janey Lee says; “If you’re going to a wedding and have teetotal guests don’t ask them why! Sometimes it’s a personal matter and they won’t want to be questioned on a day of celebration (or at all for that matter).”
“Often a judgement comes with it. ‘Sober shamers’ tend to assume that non-drinkers are ‘rock bottom’ or just ‘boring’.” But if you’ve chosen not to drink it could be something as simple as driving, or Janey says; “someone may have chosen to not drink to reduce their anxiety, to help with health issues, due to medication or pregnancy. There are so many reasons! They may have young children so they would like to stay sober. The bottom line is it’s none of their goddamn business!”
The first thing is to make sure you have suitable drinks available.
Janey says; “It should be seen as a dietary requirement and venues should offer good ‘grown up’ alcohol-free alternatives, not sugary colas and orange juice, good alcohol-free fizz or kombucha or Mocktails.”
Kate adds; “There is only so much fizzy pop you can drink in an evening so it is so important to provide a decent nonalcoholic alternative. But make your sober guests feel special too – give them the fancy glass and the adornments. I am so fed up with having a mocktail in a tumbler while my friend enjoys her alcohol version in a coupe with cherries on the side. She even gets crisps alongside hers but for me; it’s very basic making me feel like I don’t matter.”
This is definitely something that needs to be discussed with your wedding venue or if your having a dry-hire wedding there are lots of things you can do yourself! How about a ‘pimp your drink’ station including alternative and chic cordials and fresh fruit?
Kate says; “Water station at your wedding with fruit on the side? A lemonade station is a cute idea too with mixers to add, and it’s great for the children if you are having any younger guests. Make sure that alcohol-free Prosecco is always available for toasts; sober guests still want to celebrate with a glass of bubbles!
What’s wrong with traditional soft drinks? Janey says; “Our unconscious mind will feel deprived. Adults like a grown-up drink in a nice glass. Soft drinks are unhealthy and full of sugar.” And they just won’t cut it! Mocktails are also a great option to include! You can find some fab ones here!
Here are a few more dos and don’ts that are pretty simple when it comes to planning for teetotal guests at your wedding.
If there is any alcohol in the food think about alternative options. Janey says; “It’s not a deal breaker for most people, but it’s also easy to avoid. If you need red wine for example use an alcohol-free version.” Be sure to make sure you ask your guests, or, if you’d rather not, just make sure that you don’t use alcohol. Better to be safe than to make someone feel unwelcomed and uncomfortable.
Janey says; “Make it clear you will offer great alcohol-free alternatives whether that be in drink or food! Let’s face it,! If you were expecting Zoe Ball, Brad Pitt, or one of the many sober celebs to your wedding you’d be embarrassed to offer them a tumbler of warm orange juice!”
Make sure you speak with your venue, be clear about what you would like, or make sure you ask if you are attending as a guest “if the venue isn’t going to have good AF drinks, take your own.”
Janey also recommends “ringing the venue to ask about alcohol-free drinks. It’s a dietary requirement after all. If no good grown-up drinks are on offer, take your own, Noughty, alcohol-free fizz or similar, and prep exactly what you will say to friends and family, it’s often best to give them a heads up…by the way, I’m not drinking, so more for you. You can fib if needed, say you’re on antibiotics or if asked just say I’m giving it a try, it’s really helping with my anxiety.
Plan to leave early too, drunk people can get boring. If ‘sober shamers’ push it, the best response is…you go ahead, I’m good with my kombucha, alcohol-free beer etc.”
Finally, Kate adds; “Sometimes when I’m out all I want is a hot chocolate or a cup of tea but am surrounded by people drinking alcohol and nothing hot available. Make sure your venue has hot drinks on tap all day; you never know some of your drinking guests may need a stiff coffee too!”
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