By Vanessa Royle

No, I Didn't Drink at My Wedding

“So I know you don’t drink anymore, but you’re going to drink at your wedding, right?” 

I heard this question over and over during my year and a half engagement. And when I answered, “No, I’m not planning to drink at my wedding,” I received baffled looks. Some people just couldn’t grasp that I’d be walking down the aisle, committing myself to my person, and celebrating with all my friends and family without alcohol coursing through me. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit baffled by it, too. 

When I quit drinking, I wasn’t thinking that far ahead. My now-husband and I had talked about getting married, but were not yet engaged, and I didn’t know if my foray into sobriety was a temporary or forever thing. 

Being sober during my proposal, engagement, and wedding wasn’t the easiest. I was confronted with just how prevalent alcohol is in celebratory settings. From the days after we got engaged to dress fittings, food tastings, the bachelorette, and the big day, it’s assumed that celebrating requires booze. And if you’re not drinking, are you really celebrating? 

It wasn’t all bad, of course. One of my good friends surprised me with a bottle of non-alcoholic bubbly when we got engaged, one of the dress salons had some delicious cider ready for me, and our Airbnb served non-alcoholic margaritas at my Tulum bachelorette. But on the whole, the wedding industry and the surrounding circus hadn’t yet seemed to grasp that not everyone drinks. 

We got married during a beautiful day in Santa Barbara, California, and no, I didn’t drink. Still, it was one of my favorite days, and I’m thankful to remember every fleeting and magical moment of it.  

So, if you’re planning on foregoing alcohol at your own wedding – or just don’t want to over-do it – here are some ways I navigated the fun (and sometimes super stressful) process of being engaged and planning a wedding…

  • Prepare for there to be alcohol at everything. Engagement gifts from coworkers and friends: champagne. Wedding dress shopping: champagne. Bridal shower: champagne. The engagement and wedding are celebratory times, to be sure. And for many, celebrations require some bubbly. If you’re not drinking at a fitting or shower, bring some non-alcoholic bubbly with you or call ahead to let them know. I felt pretty lame in some dress appointments while my friends sipped champagne and I sat there with bubbly water, or worse, nothing at all. 
  • Over-communicate with your staff or anyone helping with beverages: My caterers brought my husband and I alcoholic cocktails during the reception. I was fine turning it down and asking for something else, but that could’ve been triggering for someone else in that position. Don’t assume everyone knows what you need unless you tell them. 
  • Provide other (amazing) options: In addition to our alcoholic menu, we served non-alcoholic beer (Athletic Brewing shout out!) and had Tilden Cocktails in place of a champagne toast! I knew that some of my guests didn’t drink, were pregnant, or maybe wanted to sip on something else, and I wanted to make sure there were enough options. The Tilden toast was a big hit!
  • Re-engineer the bachelorette/shower/engagement party: Knowing that I wasn’t going to drink at my bachelorette, my awesome maid of honor (my sister, Natalie) planned adventurous activities, chose restaurants with great non-alcoholic cocktail menus, and had our Airbnb stocked with fun non-alcoholic drinks. We all had a blast and ended the weekend in one piece, sans hangovers. 
  • Talk to your spouse: My husband drinks and I didn’t want him to feel that I was holding him back during the wedding. I also didn’t want to end up in a situation where he was super drunk at the end of the night (I’ve seen that happen at other weddings). Before the wedding, we talked about it and explained what we both wanted out of our wedding. And it all worked out. He had a few drinks, I nursed my Tilden and non-alcoholic beers, and we had an amazing night that we’ll both remember forever. 

Finally, remember that your engagement, wedding, and marriage is about you and your person, not about anyone else. Just because it’s assumed that weddings include alcohol, doesn’t mean they have to be. Figure out what’s right for you and stick with it. Your people should be excited to celebrate with you, regardless of the drink in their hands.


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