I’m unpacking my bags from yet another wedding. Summer is peak wedding season and it feels like everyone is toasting with champers to the latest happy couple. Everyone, except you.

Believe me, you’re not missing out. I’m a veteran in this field; I’ve attended six weddings since getting sober in 2018 and partied my way through every single one of them.

My blog focuses on the “pink cloud” moments of sobriety, but even if you’re not a teetotaller, there might be a number of reasons why you’re planning to avoid alcohol at your next wedding. The list is longer than you think but here are the most common reasons for not drinking at a wedding. 

You might be…

  • Pregnant
  • Trying to get pregnant
  • Taking medication that interferes with alcohol
  • The designated driver
    Getting married! (One of my friends didn’t drink at her wedding to ensure she wouldn’t oversleep and miss the honeymoon flight)

Some weddings might even be…dry! *gasps of horror*

This is more common that you might think. Many religious weddings won’t serve alcohol on their big day.

Let’s not forget that the average wedding in the UK costs a whopping £31, 974. The fifth biggest wedding cost reported was the drinks reception.

If the bride or groom are teetotallers that might also result in a dry wedding. If you’re a drinker, don’t let this influence the RSVP. The chances are that they’ve had to endure many an event surrounded by drunk people. Respect their wishes, even if it means not drinking prior to the celebrations.

Let’s not forget that the average wedding in the UK costs a whopping £31, 974 (Source here)

The fifth biggest wedding cost reported was the drinks reception. Even the photographer/videographer didn’t make it into the top five! Around half the couples surveyed will be financing their own wedding so they’ll need to be savvy with their budget. Which in turn, might affect the amount of booze available. Even if the couple aren’t having an open bar, the cost per head for each guest’s dinner place and table wine is at least £100 a head. For some couples, a dry wedding is the only financially viable option.

Now let’s look at how we can make the most of your day.

As a seasoned sobriety wedding warrior (read: wedding guest), my choice of not drinking has been received with varying levels of accommodation from the bar.

At a recent wedding, there was a choice of either lemonade or coke. Not ideal, but I actually had a brilliant time and literally danced my heels off. If that been my first sober wedding, I might have buckled at the drinks choices and reached for the house wine. Even with 17 months of sobriety under my belt, I find soft drinks a bit too childlike to drink when socialising.

There is a way you can sail through this though. I’ve compiled an easy to remember acronym, which is GREAT:

Get on the dance floor
Ring the venue in advance
Eat the wedding cake
Arrange an escape
Treat yourself

Get on the dance floor

No, really. The dance floor is often the only booze-free space. Brush up on your Cha Cha Slide moves and get funky.

Engaging with small talk for hours can get tiring and this is usually the only period where the subject of you not drinking will only come to surface. Whereas on the dance floor, everyone is so preoccupied with the music that it’s completely irrelevant. Plus you’ll have the added benefit of being at least semi-coordinated because you won’t be inebriated.

Wootton Park wedding. Summer 2019. Upon hearing that I was a teetotaler, the attentive catering staff actually approached me and asked what I’d like to drink when toasting the speeches.

Ring the venue in advance

What are the non-alcoholic options? If the venue are not willing to stock your favourite alcohol free wine (or whatever your drink) of choice, suggest to them that you bring one of your own along and they pop it in their fridge for you. Note that they may charge you corkage, so check this before the day.

Saying no to a drink can be a challenge in the early days of sobriety. With a bit of careful planning, you can ace it. Upon receiving your wedding guest invitation, clearly state in your dietary requirements that you’re not drinking

If you’re someone’s plus one then that might not be feasible, so the alternative in this situation is to email the venue in advance. 

No one wants to toast the happy couple with a lukewarm glass of orange juice, so ask them to an alternative. You may think that sounds demanding but theoretically they shouldn’t have a problem with this if you’re paying for these drinks at the bar. If the venue is fussy about buying whole bottles of non-alcoholic wine due to short expiration dates then point them in the direction of Freixenet, where they can be purchased in “single serving” sizes of 200ml (click here)

Alternatively, flavoured tonic imitates the bitterness of alcohol and looks great in a stemmed glass garnished with citrus fruit. 

Eat the wedding cake

I was lucky that two of my best friends hosted my first sober wedding. They went the extra mile and ensured that each table had a bottle of alcohol free wine.

So you’ve spent your drinking career so far succumbing to the belief that wine pairs with certain foods?

Being totally honest here, my tastebuds were usually numbed after half a bottle of wine but I carried on drinking regardless.

The sense of food flavourings is heightened if you’re drinking water instead of wine, so providing the catering is decent you’re guaranteed to appreciate the wedding meal a lot more.

However, the newly sober are susceptible to increased sugar cravings. Lots of ex-drinkers that “never had a sweet tooth” find themselves with a new found love of Haribo. Alcohol is packed with sugar (7 calories per gram of ethanol) so this is a minor symptom/byproduct of withdrawal. Don’t worry about it too much at the beginning.

But if heaps of cake stops you drinking a bottle of Prosecco then embrace it. I used to “bank” my calories for alcohol and skip dessert more often than I wished. If that sounds even a little bit like you, then remember:

Bottle of Prosecco: 516kcal

Bottle of white wine: 684

Slice of wedding cake (covered in heaps of icing): 415kcal

Sources: Drink aware. My Fitness Pal

Arrange an escape

This is essential. With some weddings, you might have the energy to stay out until the wee hours. It’s dependent on numerous factors; who you’re hanging out with at the reception to how many Red Bulls you’ve knocked back over the evening.

Other times, you might be done by 9pm. If you’ve been invited for the ceremony as well, that means you’ve probably been surrounded by whole day of people drinking around you. That can be hard work if the drinking has escalated to slurring words and drama. Have a taxi planned in advance just in case you don’t wish to share with the other guests.

If you have a plus one, give them as much notice as possible. I’m a big advocate of trapdooring, which is where you exit the party without telling all the guests you’re leaving. They’ll usually protest which can be difficult to wriggle out of.

I do believe it’s polite to inform the bride/groom that you’re leaving though and thank them as appropriate.

Treat yourself

This is important for anyone on their sobriety journey. When travelling for a wedding, I always make a weekend of it and explore the local area. Going for a run at dawn the following day to clear your mind is a great act of self-care, but so is treating yourself to room service, a massage or great food.

Bask in the glory that you’ll look sparkly in the wedding photos and remembered every single moment!


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