Do I need to inform my guests that we are having a dry wedding?

tips for having a no alcohol dry wedding reception

Weddings with no alcohol served are known as “dry weddings” and yes in New Zealand these do happen! Perhaps you don’t drink, or the wedding venue doesn’t have a liquor license. A close family member could be a recovering alcoholic. You might have a tight budget and have had a tough decision to make… Depending on the circles you move in, you might be quite surprised to hear that weddings without alcohol do happen. If you’re planning on a dry wedding, do you need to forewarn your guests?

You don’t have to inform guests you’re having a dry wedding…

For the dry weddings that I have designed wedding invitations for, no mention that they are alcohol-free has been made on the invite. In theory, a dry wedding doesn’t come out of the blue – if you’re not drinkers then your guests shouldn’t be surprised.

If it’s a while to your wedding day and you’re pondering a dry wedding reception, consider having a morning ceremony and early afternoon wedding reception. People are less likely to expect a full bar service, so you can feel a little better about not serving drinks. Alcohol-free wedding receptions do not last as long as ones with a full bar service, so you may save on venue hire and staffing costs too.

If you are worried it might come as a shock to some of your guests, I recommend you rely on word of mouth to spread the word amongst your more… ah… festive guests, to “soften the blow”! You may have rude or ignorant guests ask.

having a dry wedding

…but depending on your guests, it might be nice to warn them

If you decide to avoid mentioning it, to avoid a backlash when the invites go out – I’d be careful. Instead of finding out pre-wedding, guests will find out at the wedding, and just because it’s your big day may not stop someone’s disappointment slipping out.

Look at it this way – if you do mention “no alcohol” on the wedding invitation, that gives the invitees a chance to decline to attend. If they’ll decline to attend your wedding, just because they won’t be able to drink – do you really want them there at all?

Have you been to a dry wedding – and were you warned in advance?

Have you ever been to a wedding that didn’t serve alcohol. Did you know before attending that there was no bar service, or was it a surprise?

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  1. I was a guest at my cousin’s wedding years ago & it was a “dry ceremony” because the bride + groom did not drink alcohol. I myself am a recovering addict/alcoholic, so this was a plus for me as a guest! However, we have many family members who drink alcohol regularly & often excessively, so this wasn’t a bonus for them. In fact, certain guests (including immediate family of the groom!) actually went outside the venue where the reception was being held to “sneak booze” like a bunch of high school kids and sadly, these were full grown adults behaving like this on such a special occasion. What a disrespectful & tacky thing to do! Being a smoker, I stepped out a few times to take a smoke break, when I noticed these guests drinking in their vehicles out in the parking lot. And they weren’t being discreet about it in the least. I myself am planning on getting married soon & I think it would be best to inform guests that alcohol will not be served! If people choose not to attend because of this, that’s their issue not mine. I’d prefer a smaller crowd anyway. Plus think of the $$ you’ll save not having an open bar. Another pro to a dry wedding and/or ceremony is not having guests acting like obnoxious drunken fools & causing unnecessary scenes on your special day. The last thing anyone wants is Grandma falling down, Uncle Ben mooning everyone or Aunt Karen vomiting on the dance floor.

  2. I’m planning to have a dry wedding, in the mid afternoon (before dinner) with a cake and punch reception. No dancing, no major meal, just a get together for a few hours at the resort where we are staying (it’s a destination wedding– not super exotic, but a long drive for most guests). I don’t want people to think I’m cheap, but I am trying to save money (my parents are paying for the reception and have a decently small budget). And I don’t drink (nor does my family or my hubby to be) but his friends and family do. Do you think that I should put dry wedding on the invite just in case? I do plan to provide a list of restaurants in the area for dinner (most of which serve alcohol). I’m a bit nervous to say anything about it to his friends because from what I’ve seen, people get really mean when talking about no alcohol at weddings (especially on the internet)… I don’t understand it because my family typically only has cake and punch at weddings (and they are usually short). I’d appreciate any advice! Thank you!!

    1. I would Krista. At least it’s an afternoon reception, so people are less likely to expect it. I’d say something like “Ceremony followed by cake and non-alcoholic refreshments” vs “No alcohol”. Is the punch alcoholic? Because I automatically assume it is, and mentioning you’re having punch to guests might mean they expect it – so choose your words carefully 🙂 Are you in the Southern Bride FB group? It’s a friendly & supportive bunch there if you have any questions (people can’t be anonymous on FB so they’re less mean than other internet sites) Good luck x

      1. The “punch” I refer to is the traditional punch you would think of at church parties… lemon lime soda, juice, and water. Due to alcohol not being typically served in churches (at least around here), this is what I assume when I say punch. Thank you for letting me know that guests may still misinterpret this and giving me a proper and polite way to say it’s a dry wedding.

        I’ll look for the Southern Bride FB group. I appreciate your reply, Amanda!

  3. Ours was dry, because unfortunately there were certain immediate family members who had to be invited but cannot be trusted to drink sensibly. (As in, fights, holes punched in walls, etc.) I know it’s a bit lame to punish all for the sins of a few but I was not willing to risk my wedding day turning into a nightmare.

    I mentioned it on our wedding site but in hindsight should have probably reminded people as well and like you say, got guests to spread the word!

    FWIW I don’t really drink myself and I didn’t drink on the day (because I turn bright red after just a few sips and I didn’t fancy looking like a tomato in a white dress).

    1. I turn red too! It looks like I have a rash on my chest sometimes. I spent a good chunk of my wedding day post-hair but pre-makeup trying to cool my cheeks with a facecloth because the bubbles we drank in the morning went straight to my cheeks 🙂

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