During many major life events and times of celebration, we raise a glass of champagne or another alcoholic beverage. However, liquor is not necessary for toasting, and you don’t have to serve it at your wedding. Since you and your partner are the party hosts, the big day revolves around what you want most. Over the last few years, dry weddings have become more common to save money and for personal reasons.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the following topics:
- Why have a dry wedding
- Telling guests your nonalcoholic policy
- Considering the time of the wedding
- Deciding on the right venue
- Choosing the right theme
- Making entertainment a priority
- Serving amazing food
- Having mocktails for guests
Nobody needs alcohol to have a terrific time, and your wedding will prove that. Keep reading this bridal guide to learn everything you need to know about planning a dry wedding.
Why Have a Dry Wedding
A dry wedding may sound strange to some individuals. After all, serving alcohol at nearly all types of celebrations is common in today’s day and age. However, that doesn’t mean you should succumb to the pressure and follow a trend. This is your day, and you should stay true to your beliefs.
There are many reasons you may not want alcohol at your wedding. For starters, it’s expensive, and swapping an open bar for a cash bar may agitate guests. On the other hand, you may not want alcohol at your wedding for personal reasons such as religious beliefs. Some couples also hold dry weddings because one of them or a close relative needs it to maintain their sobriety. No matter your reason, this is a deeply personal decision only you and your partner can make.
Inform Your Guests
When you send out invitations, print a note on them telling guests that you will not serve alcohol. Also, let friends and family know they are not to sneak in their booze, as some people may attempt to do this.
Guests should not attempt to sneak in a flask. This is rude, and it could also land you in a bit of trouble if your venue forbids alcohol. If someone gets caught sneaking in alcohol, you’ll get a fine. Ensure all guests know the rules so you can avoid a headache on your special day.
Strive to have a note about your nonalcoholic policy on the invitations as well as your website to ensure everyone gets the message. In all the excitement of seeing the striking invite, some people may miss the footnote about no alcohol. Not sure how to phrase it? Simply say, “We can’t wait to celebrate our love with you. Please note that we will hold a dry reception.” This gets the point across and keeps the message polite.
Don’t People Please
If you don’t want to serve alcohol at your wedding or can’t for any reason, stay firm on your decision. Some guests may plead with you when they read “no booze allowed” on the invitation; others may even say they “need alcohol to have fun.” However, nobody requires alcoholic beverages to have a great time. Politely tell your guests your decision not to have liquor is final.
Everyday Bride Tip
If any of your guests question your dry-wedding policy, let them know you plan to spend the money saved on alcohol on other areas of the wedding. There’s no better way to please guests than with mouthwatering food and thrilling entertainment!
Carefully Consider Wedding Time
Most wedding planners and other professionals recommend early afternoon weddings to couples planning to make the event dry. In the early hours of the day, most guests aren’t bothered by the lack of alcohol. Rather than enjoy a cocktail or two, guests can sip on a cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa.
Accent the bar with wafer cookie sticks for stirrers and baking spices such as:
Rather than garnish a cocktail with a Luxardo Maraschino cherry, guests can add a dollop of whipped cream to their warm beverages.
Create a Coffee Bar
There are all sorts of ways to serve coffee at your wedding. Having a variety of flavors, such as chocolate coffee, French vanilla, and hazelnut, is a common crowd-pleaser. Depending on the time of year, you could even incorporate seasonal favorites such as pumpkin spice and peppermint.
If you love the thought of someone making guests amazing drinks, swap out the mixologist for a barista so guests can also order frappes, cappuccinos, espresso, or other options.
Everyday Bride Tip
Your coffee bar should have non-caffeinated options so guests don’t get too jittery. Plus, some people love the taste of coffee but don’t like that little jolt it creates as the caffeine hits their bloodstream.
Choose the Right Venue
Another thing to know about planning a dry wedding is that you may need to put some extra thought into the ceremony and reception location. You’ll want to rule out a few location types from the start, such as vineyards and brewhouses. While both can be quite scenic, holding a dry wedding here won’t make sense and may frustrate your guests. After all, those are some of the best places for alcoholic beverages.
If you love the natural aesthetic created by a vineyard, search for botanical gardens. Likewise, if you like the industrial-chic look breweries have to offer, consider barn venues. This way, you’ll still get the incredible photos you’ve always envisioned for your big day with the alcohol factor out of sight and out of mind for guests.
Everyday Bride Tip
When looking at venues, you may also want to consider locations that specifically prohibit alcohol, such as specific beaches or recreational parks. This way, you have the perfect explanation as to why there’s no leniency for your dry wedding.
Pick the Right Theme
Your wedding theme adds to the overall experience of the big day. For instance, if you want something sweet and endearing, you may decorate it with soft colors and emphasize sugary sweets. You could also take guests back to the prohibition era on an alcohol-free night. Some lively jazz music will get guests up and dancing in no time!
Whether your wedding is dry or not, entertainment is often one of the top areas to consider. We’ve made special mention of it here because, without alcohol, you’ll want to put a bit of extra money into this aspect. Without a glass of liquid courage to get them on the dance floor, guests will need something else to drive them. To keep the atmosphere lively, hire a great DJ and have an array of games out for friends and family to enjoy.
Have Amazing Music
The best wedding DJs know how to get guests excited, no matter the time of day. As you search for this vendor, take time interviewing your top options to ensure you decide on someone extroverted and excitable. Joy is contagious, especially on such a happy day.
Additionally, take time to craft the perfect list of songs. Intermix a few slow songs with upbeat, popular jams so everyone has something to dance to. You could further engage guests by allowing them to put in a request or two for music.
Everyday Bride Tip
Rather than rely on the old-fashioned method of song requests—having guests approach the DJ—put a QR code on the RSVP. That way, guests can put their top picks on an online list and don’t have to shout over blaring music to put in their requests at the reception.
Have Other Activities
Games are another great way to kick off the party atmosphere and get all your guests to have fun. You could set up a comically oversize Connect Four board or set up games of Jenga as centerpieces on the tables. In addition to games, have engaging activities such as karaoke and a photo booth with props like boas, masks, and hats.
Everyday Bride Tip
Combine the photo booth with your guest book to make your wedding more unique. As a bonus, this encourages guests to let loose and take silly photos together.
Serve Delicious Food
Often wedding food is just that: “wedding food.” It’s bland and sometimes over- or undercooked. By ditching alcohol at your wedding, you’ll save a fair amount of money in your budget and can increase your spending on food. One way to do this is by offering a wider variety of foods throughout the wedding.
When eating becomes more experiential and flavorful, guests feel more fulfilled. For example, at “cocktail” hour, pick out some of the best hors d’oeuvres to serve guests, such as grilled cheese squares, tomato soup, a charcuterie board, pretzel bites, or sliders. Similarly, you can serve wedding cake and have a make-your-own-sundae station for dessert. This makes your wedding more unique. Friends and family will have such a great time enjoying the delicious food that alcohol will become a fleeting thought.
Offer Mocktails to Guests
While there won’t be alcohol at your wedding, that doesn’t mean you have to ditch all the other flavors those signature drinks often have. With mocktails, guests can still please their tastebuds without getting a buzz. Some great options to serve at your wedding include:
- Dry Moscow mules
- Citrus punch
- Shirley Temple
- Dry mojito
- No-Tequila Sunrise
Additionally, you could rent a slushy machine and fill it with an alcohol-free flavor of margarita mix. Many of these beverages taste amazing, and when you don’t involve alcohol, people can enjoy as many glasses as they want.
It’s Your Day
There are many things to know before planning your wedding, and the most important is to have an amazing time. Don’t spend your day worried about whether guests feel upset over the lack of alcohol. While serving it has become a tradition, there are no rules stating that it’s essential to the wedding, because it’s not. You and your guests can lean into that natural rush true bliss brings, making you feel better than any drink ever could. Have a blast on your big day!