I’ve never attended a wedding where people got so drunk they were out of control, but I’ve often heard people talking about weddings as a great occasion to drink excessively. Just type in Google ‘drunk wedding guest‘ and you’ll see a whole plethora of horror stories popping up. Clearly, as uncommon as we think drunkenness at weddings is, it does happen and, more importantly, it could lead to embarrassing speeches and situations that are best avoided.

I’m a firm believer that as the hosts it’s important you don’t underestimate the issue, and take all possible measures to ensure your wedding will be a pleasant and memorable event for everyone. Granted, you shouldn’t be babysitting your own guests, but while a tipsy guest can actually be entertaining, a drunk one can turn your wedding into a disaster, so ensuring that you’ve done your best to prevent problems is a must, particularly if you are concerned about a specific individual.

Wedding drinks, Alcohol at weddings, Wedding alcohol, Wedding Bar, Serve alcohol at weddingsImage by Sean Flanigan via Ruffled Blog

To help you with this, I’ve put together a few suggestions you can follow:

1. First and foremost, decide if alcohol is to be served. SAY WHAT???! Yes, you read that right. It is not compulsory to serve alcohol and you shouldn’t be under pressure to do so, particularly if you think it might cause problems with one or more guests. Speaking about this on twitter, I’ve found out a few people have been to weddings where no alcohol was served. This was mainly dictated by the culture or religion of the couple, but you shouldn’t feel like you have to justify your decision if you opt for a dry wedding. And you certainly don’t need to notify your guests prior to your wedding, as if their attendance might depend on whether you serve alcohol or not.

2. Decide if you should have an open bar. While I’m not a fan of paying bars, it is often a solution to offer your guests a limited number of free drinks (x2 is often the norm). Having to pay for their own drinks is sometimes enough to slow down someone’s drinking, while a free bar can make those people with a ‘if it’s free is for me’ attitude take advantage of it and go overboard with their alcohol consumption. 

3. If you decide to have an open bar, what kind of drinks should they serve? Do you need to serve strong alcoholics or can you keep it simple, with just a reasonable selection of wines, beers and soft drinks?

4. Appoint a couple of trustworthy friends to keep an eye on the one or two individuals you might be concerned about.

5. Make sure the people behind the bar are aware of anyone that might pose a problem. While they won’t stop serving them alcohol, if someone is over-drinking, they will be able to alert you or the people you have appointed to keep an eye on them.

Wedding drinks, Alcohol at weddings, Wedding alcohol, Wedding Bar, Serve alcohol at weddingsImage by Aregrayline, via Ruffled Blog

6. If there is a specific person you are concerned about and you do have a good relationship with him/her, approach them before the wedding and have a kind, but firm word. Clearly explain that you really want them to be at your wedding, but that you also want a relaxing day where you don’t have to worry about people drinking excessively. If they truly care for you, they should show you some consideration and limit their alcohol intake to a manageable level.

7. If step 6 is not enough, then consider not inviting that friend or family member who has a bad reputation for over-drinking. As much as it hurts (you and them), remember that you only get married once, and you deserve a stress-free wedding.

8. Get your timings right (thank you Laura Caudery from the stunning Fatcham Park venue, who pointed this out to me a few days ago). It is common to have a drink reception between the ceremony and wedding breakfast; however, the danger with this is that too much time elapses between the two and guests find themselves drinking for a couple of hours on an empty stomach. Making sure that the meal starts within a reasonable time from the ceremony is crucial to ensuring your guests don’t overdrink before the party has even started! A wedding planner will usually be able to coordinate everything for you so that no major delays occur and your wedding runs according to schedule.

I hope you find this useful. And remember, this is your wedding day and as much as people will want to have a say, you make the final call on when it comes to this type of decisions.

What do you think? Is it ok to control alcohol consumption at your wedding? Should you have alcohol at all if you know that one or two individuals might get carried away? And should you wish not to serve alcohol, should you tell your guests in advance? If you have any other suggestions that you think might work, or has worked for you, or if you want to share your experience with our readers, please do leave you comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

x Betta