view of a wedding reception

8 Tips for Staying Sober at a Wedding


Sober Recovery Expert Author

view of a wedding reception

If you’re attending a wedding during recovery, the thought of alcohol being present at the reception may cause some anxiety. After all, weddings are known for exuberant celebrating, drinking and partying into the wee hours of the morning. This can be intimidating for anyone working to maintain a sober lifestyle.

While wedding invitations can put you in a predicament, there are a number of things you can do to help yourself remember that sobriety is your top priority. Here are 8 tips to help you celebrate with your friends and family without jeopardizing the progress you’ve worked so hard towards in recovery.

Here are 8 tips to help you celebrate with your friends and family without jeopardizing the progress you’ve worked so hard towards in recovery.

1. Check your heart before you go.

If you’re not in a good place emotionally, you may want to get some support from a trusted friend or counselor before going. If you’re sad, angry or extremely anxious, these emotions can serve as a trigger to pick up a drink. Gauge what you’re feeling and do your best to get to a happy place before attending the wedding.

2. Play the tape through.

In recovery, one of the popular tools for preventing a relapse is the act of “playing the tape through.” To do this, you must think about the set of events that would happen if you picked up a drink at the wedding. Think of how you would feel the next day, what would happen if you got drunk and made a fool of yourself, or worse: what if you lose your clean time and had to start over? Play the tape through to see the consequences of picking up a drink as this can help stop you from doing so.

3. Invite a sober person to attend with you.

Ideally, invite one of your sober buddies to go to the wedding with you. This will help you feel empowered to stay away from drinking. Your sober friend can be your accountability partner and the two of you can support each other in having fun sober.

4. Attend a support group meeting before the wedding.

If it’s possible, attend an AA or SMART Recovery meeting prior to the wedding so you can get the support you need before getting there. Feel free to share your concerns during the meeting so others can fully encourage and support you. They may also be able to give you more tips for staying sober at the event.

5. Opt for a virgin (non-alcoholic) drink.

Some people simply don’t like it when others offer them a drink at social events. If you’re feeling self-conscious about this, opt for a non-alcoholic beverage. You can always order a virgin piña colada, margarita or any other non-alcoholic mocktail. This way, you’ll be able to carry that drink around and won’t be asked if you want a drink.

6. Have your social network handy.

Decide ahead of time who you will contact in the case that you are craving a drink super badly. You can call or text them and let them know your concern. Allow them to talk to you and remind you that drinking is not an option and that you are committed to your recovery 100 percent.

7. Write yourself a note.

Make a list of all the reasons you want to stay sober and carry it with you at the wedding. Take a look at it if you sense anxiety arising. Remember the reasons you stopped drinking and let them be the driving force of why you say no to a drink.

8. Have an exit route.

Be observant enough to recognize ahead of time if the wedding reception becomes too much for you to handle. Give yourself permission to leave early if you have to. Whether you are honest in letting others know that you’re in recovery and the temptation is becoming too much or you simply decide to slip out of the event quietly, know that this is all perfectly OK.

Weddings are wonderful celebrations of love and life and you should feel free to attend as many as you’d like throughout the years. Maintaining your hard-earned sobriety during wedding receptions requires a combination of mental and emotional preparedness as well as recognizing that you, too, are in celebration of a commitment that you’ve made to yourself. And that’s a beautiful thing.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction, browse our directory of treatment centers or call us at 800-772-8219 to inquire about recovery options.

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