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Keep Overindulgence from Ruining Your Special Day with these Recommendations for Offering Alcohol at Weddings

After much anticipation, your special day has arrived. The heartfelt ceremony is complete, and you look forward to entering the reception hall as husband and wife-a journey you have planned for more than a year. As the DJ announces your name, the spotlight is fixed directly upon you and your spouse.

But 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?

Control How Much Guests Can Consume

To prevent too much alcohol from ruining your glorious day, you need to control how much you guests consume. Since many couples feel an open bar is necessary to keep their guests happy, controlling alcohol at weddings can be difficult.

But there are ways to allow drinking at wedding receptions while avoiding overindulgence.

Limited Bar Hours

Because 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.

Limited Alcohol Selections

A fully stocked bar makes it easy for your guests to overindulge in drinking at wedding receptions. An very 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 Champaign 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.

Cash Bar

The final way to offer alcohol, beer and wine at your wedding is to provide a cash bar, where guests have to pay for their own "spirits." Couples often use cash bars to reduce the cost of the reception. The champagne for toasts is still usually provided to guests at no charge.

A cash bar also helps prevent guests from drinking too much by limiting the amount of alcohol each guest will drink. This follows the theory that if guests are forced to pay for their own drinks, they are likely to drink less. Of course, many couples fear that if guests drink less, they may leave early.

Prepare for the Worst

Unfortunately, despite you 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.

Appoint a Designated Watcher

When deciding on what role your friends and family will play in the wedding, make sure you appoint a designated "watcher." This person, most often a groomsman, will keep an eye out for any guests who are getting overly drunk during the reception. Any good bartender will be watching for this, too.

Rides or a Place to Stay

One of the jobs of the designated watcher is to remind your guests that rides and rooms are available. Also, tell your DJ to announce this information periodically during the night.

Guests who have been drinking may be too inebriated to listen to reason, though. Therefore, as subtly as possible, your designated watcher must be prepared to physically restrain the drunken guest from driving.

As a last resort, the groomsmen should telephone the police. While your first inclination will be to avoid a scene in the midst of the happiest day of your life, an accident caused by a drunk driver leaving your wedding may ruin your memories of your special day forever.

Keep them Fed and Hydrated

Food is the best way soak up alcohol in someone's stomach. It slows the rate of alcohol absorption in the body. Therefore, after dinner snacks are a welcomed idea. Just make sure they are not salty snacks, which will likely tempt guests to drink more alcohol to quench his thirst. Foods like cheeses and meats stay in the stomach longer and absorb more alcohol.

Hydration is also a key to preventing alcohol overindulgence. Soft drinks, water and non-alcoholic punch will keep guests hydrated without forcing guests to turn to alcohol.

Ultimately, it is important to have two plans in place if you will be offering alcohol at your wedding. Plan one will help prevent overindulgence. Plan two will take care of any guest who may have overindulged. If you have a reasonable strategies in place to handle both situations, then you will be a step closer to the wedding of your dreams.