Is It Ever OK to Host an Alcohol-Free Wedding?

Discover what to expect at a dry wedding, and how to cut down on the cost of drinks.

Is It Ever OK to Host an Alcohol-Free Wedding?

Photo: Kris Kan

toasting couple
Most couples and wedding guests couldn't imagine a celebration without free-flowing alcoholic beverages, but for those with religious or financial objections to serving alcohol, a "dry" wedding may seem like the best option. However, is it even socially acceptable to not offer alcoholic beverages at a wedding? And if your goal is to save money, how do you provide alcohol without breaking the bank?

Lindsay Sims of TOAST Events, which is headquartered in Atlanta, told Inside Weddings that she's planned a number of dry weddings due to couples' religious beliefs, though she wouldn't recommend it otherwise. "If the host is not serving alcohol for reasons other than religion or cultural preferences, I believe it is in poor taste to not serve alcohol," she says. And she isn't alone: a CNN poll of 37,000 people found that just eight percent of respondents said that dry weddings are just fine with them. Three percent agreed that "A dry wedding is a pain, but I'll deal," and the rest agreed that an open bar or even cash bar (one of the worst faux pas a couple can commit!) is preferrable. Five percent said they wouldn't even attend a dry wedding.

Although it's certainly possible to throw a fun wedding sans booze, Sims says it's hard to find many advantages. "Couples who decide to host a dry wedding should have realistic expectations that it will likely be harder to motivate people to dance," Sims shares. "They can also expect a shorter reception time and that a higher percentage will depart after the cake cutting."

Couples hosting dry weddings need to make an effort to excite and energize their guests in other ways. Sims says a great band or entertainment is key, as well as a variety of food and desserts.

"Consider a progressive party where treats and snacks are presented throughout the evening. It will give your guests something to look forward to and can really be a chance to personalize your menu," she suggests.

However, if your only motivation for hosting an alcohol-free wedding is to save money, Sims offers these ways to cut down on the cost of drinks without eliminating alcohol altogether:

- Look for a venue that allows you to bring in your own alcohol. This offers a tremendous savings and allows you to customize the offerings and price points of what you serve.

- Stick to beer, wine, and a signature drink, versus an entire open bar.

Close the bar for the last hour or during the dinner hour (but not both). This can be especially helpful at a venue where the venue's staff manages the bar.

- Consider hosting a brunch wedding with a mimosa or Bloody Mary bar. People will consume far less at this hour and will thus help your budget.

If you're truly committed to hosting an alcohol-free wedding, be prepared to splurge on the other elements that make weddings fun, like the music and food – but know that there are ways to offer drinks without breaking the bank! Get inspired by these beautiful, delicious non-alcoholic drinks, and check out these tasty, totally affordable wines.

Opening photo by Kris Kan

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