Alcohol at the Wedding - Yes or No?

2014 Aug 28 - by dulhan
Almost on level with the Great Veg Food Debate, is the question: should we serve alcohol at the wedding?  Largely this question is answered by your cultural traditions - Muslims and South Indians will usually give a polite 'no' while Panjabis give a resounding 'yes!'  But for those who fall in the middle, is it a yes? Or a no? Or a definitely maybe?

Alcohol being served at the wedding usually goes one of two ways - either everyone gets nicely buzzed, they dance a lot, they laugh a lot, and they sleep well OR at least one person gets embarrassingly drunk (extra points if it's the bride or groom or one of their immediate family) and ruins or makes the party.  I'm obviously operating under the notion that alcohol would only be served during the reception, with the obvious exception being the wine served at mass for our Catholic couples.

The reception, as the end of the weeks of festivities and planning, and basically the massive break for all the guests and all the harried planners, is the ideal time to serve alcohol if at all.  It can obviously be conducive to celebrating and enjoying the night.  It's sometimes even expected by guests (especially if they're non-Desi), and champagne, in the diaspora, is almost as important as the wedding cake.  But if you're a bit nervous at the idea of serving alcohol (maybe your family isn't so keen even though your college friends definitely are), there are some very easy ways to control the flow:

  • Set limits: some couples opt to give each of their guests one or two free alcoholic drinks at the bar (ideal for families with rambunctious uncles who like their Black Label a little too much)
  • Only serve champagne and some low content stuff like beer and maybe red wine
  • Make mocktails readily available
  • Put a time limit on the bar and don't serve past a certain hour

{via Spooktacular Indian Halloween Wedding Inspiration}

The only thing I would actively discourage is refusing to provide an open bar (unless of course you feel very strongly about this, but then, I guess, you won't have read this far if you did).  It's a surefire way for your guests to get the wrong idea about you and your budget.  The idea is to make sure everybody is having fun - if you're nervous that alcohol could be the harbinger of evil tidings, feel free to leave it out or limit it.

As someone who has attended many many Desi weddings where alcohol was free-flowing, let me tell you there comes a certain hour in the night when the drinks are a lot less fun for everyone.  Sure it's great in the beginning when you're tipsy and photoboothing with your cousins but by the time the older (and annoyingly younger) people are down a few drinks, the dance floor becomes a system of broken tumbler land mines.  Also, messy youngsters and loud uncles/aunties spell the end for festivities regardless of how great the DJ is.

It's all about striking a balance.  If you're an open bar, bring on the booze sort of person, embrace it and enjoy it (your guests definitely will).  If alcohol in every and all forms doesn't work for you, that's totally cool and I'm sure the sweets at your party are killer.  But if you're somewhere in the middle, you have to figure out what works for you.  Talk to you planner, parents, caterers, and partner about what to do - the fate of the party rests in your hands...

Only joking, you'll have an excellent reception no matter what you choose.

Also, be sure to check out our {Summer Sips Series} for great cocktail and mocktail ideas!