Though weddings and open bars often go hand in hand, there are various reasons a couple might opt for a dry wedding. Lavish cocktails and nice glasses of wine can be fun, but they’re not necessary for a spectacular celebration! So if alcohol isn’t your thing, know there are plenty of ways to have a dry wedding that’s still memorable.
If you intend to leave boozy drinks off your menu, remember that this decision is entirely up to you and your partner — so don’t let anyone tell you you need to have alcohol served on your big day! We spoke with a handful of industry experts to gather their recommendations for those hosting a dry wedding. Here’s what they had to say.
Expect a question or two
Whether or not it’s your style, most weddings serve alcohol. So, if you’re going sans-booze, accept that your loved ones (particularly the ones who aren’t the best with boundaries!) might make a comment.
Julianne Smith of The Garter Girl shares, “Having a dry wedding is not customary, so expect that you might get some questions or unwanted opinions. This is not a reason not to do it — you should never do anything at your wedding just because that’s how it’s always been done — just expect that you might get the side eye from guests expecting alcohol at your wedding. As long as you like your reasons for having a dry wedding, that’s all that matters.”
Your big day should reflect you, your partner, and your style as a couple. So don’t let anyone’s external thoughts influence your decision!
Let people know ahead of time
If you’re opting for a dry wedding, let your guests know ahead of time to avoid any remarks on the day itself. This way, they won’t waste your time asking any questions.
“Consider managing expectations by letting guests know alcohol will not be served at the event via your website or the details card in your invitation suite,” recommends Bethany Crispell of Twickenham House.
Simply making your decision public will allow you to set expectations from the very beginning.
Prioritize your entertainment
There are so many fun ways to make a wedding day special — none of which require alcohol! Work with your DJ or venue to provide different entertainment options for your guests.
Frank Guertler of Bunn DJ Company Richmond notes, “If you are having a dry wedding, you want the most exciting DJ entertainment to rev up the guests. Also, consider other fun enhancements for the guests, like karaoke, big screens to show videos and photos, and even trivia.”
Photobooths, games, and other engaging activities are fantastic ways to ensure your loved ones enjoy themselves from start to finish.
Put the money toward other things
One of the best parts about having a dry wedding? Not having to shell out for all that alcohol! Instead, you can allocate more funds to different aspects of your big day.
“A dry wedding can be more cost-effective as alcohol is often an expensive part of the budget for any event. This can allow couples to put more money towards the other elements of their wedding,” reminds Jacqueline Vizcaino of Tinted Event Design and Planning.
Don’t think of a dry wedding in terms of what you’ll lose but rather what you’ll gain. You and your partner will have some extra cash to spend on something meaningful!
Host a daytime event
No alcohol, no problem — especially if you host a wedding outside typical hours. Think about the atmosphere you want to create and whether a non-traditional celebration fits your vision.
Janice Carnevale of Bellwether Events says, “If you think your guests might not receive a dry wedding well, consider having brunch or lunch. A dry event during the daytime will raise fewer eyebrows.”
Joan Wyndrum O’Hear of Blooms By The Box agrees, stating, “Consider an afternoon wedding or garden theme brunch with many epic floral arrangements. Keeping it laid back allows you to create fun DIY activities for your guests, such as a DIY floral bar, coffee bar, and festive mocktail bar with infused herbs and floral ice cubes.”
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Get creative with your wedding day timeline and how you can plan an unforgettable event regardless of when it takes place.
Consider other drink options
There are many ways to get creative with your drink menu without adding alcohol to the mix. Think outside the box so you can serve drinks that are fun and refreshing!
“Couples can provide sparkling cider or non-alcoholic beer for toasting when organizing a dry wedding. Other popular choices include signature mocktails and elegant fruit punches with pretty garnishes like mint leaves, fresh berries, or citrus slices. Non-alcoholic cocktails are simple to create, and couples can get creative by using fun syrups and flavorings to make them even more memorable,” says Jacqueline Vizcaino of Tinted Event Design and Planning.
Nora Sheils of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss agrees, emphasizing, “There aren’t any requirements that say you do or don’t have to host beer, wine, and/or liquor. However, for guests who may miss it, consider offering fun mocktails with unique flavor profiles to spice up the bar. A cocktail doesn’t have to be boozy to be memorable!”
Consider the season your wedding will take place and design a drink menu that uses popular flavors and seasonal ingredients. It’s the small touches that people will remember!
Keep guest safety in mind
Unlimited alcohol doesn’t always equal a good time. In fact, it can often lead to trouble among guests — especially those who will get in a car once the night is over.
Naiyah Hodge of Pharris Photography notes, “A dry wedding can help ensure that the risk of someone getting drunk behind the wheel is slim. Secondly, dry weddings help avoid having a reception that could get wilder than expected. Especially if they’re hosting an expensive venue and want to ensure nothing gets damaged.”
Betsy Scott of The Hill seconds this idea, sharing, “While all wedding couples want to have a fantastic time at their wedding, some understand the issues overuse of alcohol can have on how it can jeopardize guest safety and cause objectional behavior. We, in fact, had situations where we had to intervene when things got out of hand, which is the last thing we ever want to do.”
Nobody wants to spend the night of their wedding dealing with a loved one who’s had one too many. So if you’re considering a dry wedding, the safety of your guests is a significant bonus.
Make the decision that’s right for you
At the end of the day, it’s your wedding — and you and your partner need to decide what’s best for you. Whether that’s a fully stocked open bar or a menu full of mocktails is up to you!
As Crispell says, “Remember, this is your celebration. Do not feel obligated to change your vision to please all your guests.”
Do what’s right for you, and know your loved ones will be excited to celebrate regardless!
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.