newly married couple enjoying a dry reception

How to Plan a Dry Wedding

By Nicole Arzt is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in providing psychotherapy for individuals, families, and groups struggling with substance use disorders and psychiatric illnesses.

Sober Recovery Expert Author

newly married couple enjoying a dry reception

Are you getting ready to tie the knot to the lucky bride or groom?

In the chaotic midst of wedding planning, the idea of throwing an enjoyable, no-booze affair may seem like an impossible order. However, for individuals recovering from alcoholism, dry weddings can provide a safer (and a more respectable) atmosphere for everyone involved.

Dry weddings can provide a safer (and a more respectable) atmosphere for those in recovery.

Let's get into the top tips for throwing a happy, alcohol-free wedding.

Choose a Venue That Prohibits Alcohol

Want to take the guesswork out of your beverage selection? Opt for a dynamic venue that doesn't allow alcohol on the premises. Such venues may include:

  • Amusement parks
  • Recreational parks
  • Natural parks
  • Beaches and lakes

With this approach, you should aim to find a venue that fits within your budget and offers enjoyment and recreation of some kind. Fortunately, nature is cheap and beautiful!

Schedule a Morning or Afternoon Reception

Guests often associate evening receptions with fancy dinners and open bars. And the later you host your event, the more you'll have people itching to drink. However, you can shift this mentality by choosing a different timeline for your event.

First of all, morning and afternoon weddings offer limitless opportunities for a unique affair. From tea parties to breakfast buffets, there are plenty of food and non-alcoholic choices that will please your guests.

Second, it's less socially acceptable to drink during these times. As a result, you'll likely receive less resistance and pushback from people regarding alcohol.

Provide Awesome Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Despite the wedding cliches, alcohol isn't the only "exciting" drink option. Consider the following ideas:

  • fancy mocktails
  • gourmet coffee bar
  • milkshakes
  • fancy smoothies
  • sodas and juices

Most bartenders and wedding coordinators will comply with your beverage requests happily. Chances are, they've worked a dry wedding before, so you should ask them if they have any unique suggestions.

The takeaway here is to offer variety. The more you can excite people to try your different drinks, the less they'll be focusing on the lack of alcohol.

Plan Out Entertainment

Let's be honest. For many wedding guests, alcohol is the primary entertainment. After all, getting drunk serves an easy cop-out for reducing stress and mingling with others during all that downtime spent hanging around.

Instead of relying on alcohol as the entertainment, you should schedule other activities or games that get people up and moving. Get creative with this! From cornhole to arcade games to photo booths to dance contests, there's nothing better than having a guest unleash their inner child while still wearing formal clothes.

Accept That a Dry Wedding Won't Please Everyone

Even if you plan the ultimate dry wedding bash, there's still a chance some people will feel disappointed or angry. Some guests may refuse to come to the reception altogether, and others may leave right after they realize there isn't any booze.

During the planning process, you may receive some pushback from relatives or friends. They may insist that dry weddings are tacky, cheap, or downright rude.

You should anticipate these kinds of negative reactions and try to let them go. If alcohol is a more important priority than honoring and celebrating the happiest day of your life, that's their problemnot yours.

Remember that this is your day. You are entitled to plan and enjoy it exactly as you want.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-772-8219 to speak to a treatment specialist.

Stay Connected
Subscribe to our newsletter to get addiction help, recovery inspiration and community tips delivered to your inbox.
No Thanks. I'm not Interested