To Drink or Not to Drink? ~ Reception Alcohol Considerations

Now that I’ve had a couple glasses of wine, I think it’s time to blog about a very tricky wedding reception subject – booze.

Most wedding receptions have some form of alcohol, whether it be a full bar or just champagne. The question is: how do you plan the alcohol that will be served to best suit the crowd that will be at your wedding? Let me consult the notes I made on the paper tablecloth during my and Kelly’s dinner at Macaroni Grill.

Alcohol at weddings

These are the things I suggest taking into consideration:

1. Will there be people under the drinking age attending?

Many times I’ve been at weddings and have seen underage people (even teens) drinking alcohol. I’ve seen someone underage walk up to the bar, order a drink, and the bartender hands it over without a word. This is a dangerous situation and can leave you liable. If someone underage is served alcohol under your watch, especially if you’re renting a ballroom or hall, and it’s brought to the attention of the city, the security staff, or the site owner, you can be fined. And that fine won’t be cheap.

Also, if someone underage drinks and drives, then causes an accident when leaving your wedding, it’s very serious. Not only can you be held liable legally in some states, but a civil suit can be brought against you by that child’s parents. (I’m using the word “child” to mean the underage drinker.) You can bet on being sued by anyone that child hurts in the accident, or any family affected by a death in that accident. Not to mention how horrible it would feel to be responsible for something like that. I couldn’t imagine.

So, what do you do if you’re having an open, hosted bar, or even just wine and champagne, at your wedding and there will be underage people attending? Very simply, make SURE the bartenders are carding anyone who looks under 25. Also, have designated people watching the crowd to keep an eye out for underage drinkers. A disaster is easily prevented.

2. Will there be children at the wedding?

This might seem like a funny question when talking about alcohol. The reason I’m bringing it up is because if you’re going to have a lot of children at your wedding, you may want to consider not serving red wine or dark drinks. I admit, I’m a generally paranoid person. This is no secret to anyone who knows me. (I’ve been known to sleep with my equipment next to my bed the night before an important shoot.) I can just imagine a guest holding a glass of red wine, talking to the bride, and BAM! A kid runs smack into the guest and the red wine splashes all over the white bridal gown. Does that count as a Trash the Dress shoot if I photograph it when it happens?

3. How big is your guest list?

If you’re having a very large wedding, like 300 or more guests, it may be difficult to monitor who is drinking and who is not. If you decide to have a bar, be sure to have the manpower to monitor the crowd (see #2).

4. Will drunk Uncle Bob be there?

I know this isn’t very P.C., but let’s get real and be honest – many families have alcoholics or heavy drinkers in them. It’s life, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. But it’s something that should probably be considered. One of my brides elected to not have alcohol at her wedding because she has family members that she couldn’t trust with alcohol, as well as a few friends who were recovering alcoholics, and she didn’t want to face problems. That was her right, and it gave her peace of mind.

If you elect to have alcohol at your wedding, and you know there will be guests attending that have drinking problems, you can instruct the bartender to cut off anyone who has had too much.

Other Drinks to Consider

Remember to provide drinks for people who won’t be drinking alcohol. It’s handy to have a good variety as well. As usual, I may be a bit Captain Obvious here, but I want to be thorough.

Guests always appreciate when there is lots of water readily available. When there’s not water readily available, I hear guest saying, “I’m soooo thirsty… I need water… WHERE is the water? Our pitcher is empty!”

Provide regular AND diet sodas, because some people can’t have sugar. People love root beer and orange sodas in addition to Pepsi or Coke.

You can have the caterer mix a great sparkling fruit punch. If you’re having a tropical wedding, a yummy sparkling tropical drink would be very fitting.

Tea and Coffee
I’ve been to many many weddings where there was iced tea and hot coffee – both very important beverages – but I can’t have caffeine, so I drink neither. At Caitlin and David’s wedding, there was hot water and a lovely array of herbal teas!!! I literally shouted, “OOOO HERBAL TEA!” Yes, I know… I appreciate the small things in life.

Hopefully this was helpful! Feel free to post questions, suggestions or stories below! Peace out!

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