Hosting a Dry Wedding? How to Plan, Etiquette & Resources – Surely
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How to Host a Fun Dry Wedding (Plus, what to expect when you attend)

How to Host a Fun Dry Wedding (Plus, what to expect when you attend)

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If you’re thinking about keeping the alcohol out of your big day, we’ve got all the wedding planning tips to make your dry wedding the event of the year. 

If you’re a guest who already got an invite to an alcohol-free soirée, here’s what to expect...and how to behave!

What is a dry wedding?

A dry wedding is a wedding without any alcohol served. This generally refers to alcohol at the wedding reception, but may also include an entirely booze-free wedding day.

What is the difference between a dry wedding and a non-alcoholic wedding? There is no difference between a dry wedding and a non-alcoholic wedding. Both are events without any alcohol.

How you go about a dry wedding may look different depending on your situation. 

If you’re not serving alcohol because you just don’t want to deal with alcohol, you may consider incorporating alternatives like fun mocktails or non-alcoholic champagne for the big toast.

If you’re hosting a dry wedding because someone in your circle is newly sober and you’re honoring that choice, it’s a good idea not to serve drinks that resemble alcohol.

Why would you have a dry wedding?

Believe it or not, most brides and grooms don’t choose to have a dry wedding because they want their guests to suffer. It’s a conscious decision made by the couple for a variety of reasons

Those could be religious reasons or a connection to alcoholism in the immediate family or among the bride and groom themselves. Maybe the couple getting married isn’t old enough to drink, or they’ve had too many bad experiences with overserved family or friends.

It might be even more simple: Many couples plan a dry wedding because alcohol is just so expensive.

What are the pros of a dry wedding? Pros of a dry wedding include a much less costly event and a day where no one will be worried about guests getting wasted.

It also allows the bride and groom to have the wedding they want. While the guests are an important component of that special day, it’s also not really about them, right? It’s perfectly fine to have a dry wedding if it’s the day you envision for yourself.

Should you let guests know it’s a dry wedding?

Despite the rise in popularity of alcohol alternatives and sober bars, alcohol is still the standard at weddings. Most weddings still serve alcohol, with just 8% of couples choosing to forego booze on their big day.

You don’t need to go into detail about why you’re having a dry wedding, but it’s good etiquette to let your guests know they’ll be attending a sober party. How you give them that heads-up doesn’t have to be a huge to-do.

Avoid including that information on your formal wedding invitation. You’re not telling guests to expect a cupcake bar and flash mob, after all.

Word of mouth is an excellent way to get the information out to your immediate circle. Consider a small insert card as part of your invite if you’re worried you won’t reach everyone. Include a simple line with your menu card: 

“Non-alcoholic drinks will be provided.” 

Reinforce the information on your wedding website. You can do this in an FAQ where you ask and answer the question of “Will there be alcohol at this wedding?” Keep it simple either way:

“We’re so excited to see you! Please note that no alcohol will be served during the reception.”

Proper Dry Wedding Etiquette

You may not know exactly why a couple isn’t serving alcohol at their wedding. 

It could be that they’re sober curious, trying to be more mindful about drinking, or it may be more serious than that. 

Dry wedding etiquette for guests is about keeping things respectful for the bride and groom, so leave any misconceptions at the door..

How do you survive a dry wedding? To survive a dry wedding, indulge in the drink alternatives available, participate in the activities, and make yourself a pleasant guest for the bride and groom.

✅ DO feel comfortable planning an after-party where drinking is allowed, especially if it’s an early, daytime wedding.

❌ DON’T sneak a flask into a dry wedding unless you’re being cheeky with some non-alcoholic spirits.

✅ DO hype up the bride and groom. Take part in the activities they’ve set up to keep things light and fun, and hit the dance floor if you’re brave enough.

❌ DON’T be the guest rolling their eyes about the festive signature mocktail bar that’s set up for your enjoyment. The non-alcoholic drinks of today are delicious. Give them a shot.

✅ DO be comfortable admitting to yourself that you had a great time at a dry wedding. The bride and groom put a lot of thought and effort into pulling it off and deserve some kudos for that.

Alcohol-Free Wedding Bar Ideas

A dry wedding doesn’t have to mean you’re going without a wedding bar. Try one of these festive options to delight even the most skeptical guests.

Go wild with a theme. 

If you’re having a winter wedding, consider festive mocktails or hot drinks that play up those winter vibes. If you’re already having a themed wedding, play it up with the drinks you’re serving. 

Planning a celebration of the great outdoors? Consider s’mores alongside those warm-up drinks.

Hire a beverage cart.

The drinks should still be flowing at a dry wedding. Think about hiring a mobile beverage cart that specializes in non-alcoholic drinks. Some even come with photo booths for added entertainment. 

Consider bubbly options, craft soft drinks, or a coffee bar for an early afternoon brunch.

Make it a candy bar, instead.

Nobody says you need to have an open bar at all, especially if you’re passing drinks around during your mocktail hour. Consider a candy bar instead, and allow your guests to feel like kids again. 

You may not even need to DIY this one. Talk to your caterer about bar ideas.

Set up a spliff bar.

If you’re set on a lack of alcohol at your wedding but open to treating guests to cannabis, set up a spliff bar to replace cocktail hour. 

Elegant bud vases suit any theme and the interactive aspect of rolling your own joint adds to activity options. 

And just like that, everyone is less stressed out.

Show off non-alcoholic options.

You don’t even need to get too creative to stock a bar full of alcoholic alternatives. From non-alcoholic beer to alcohol-removed wine, you have options to give your guests a classic wedding bar vibe without the booze. 

For alcohol-free wine that tastes like the real thing, try Surely.

Other Ideas For a Fun Dry Wedding

The focus doesn’t even need to be on alcohol alternatives to pull off a fun dry wedding.

Can dry weddings be fun? Yes, dry weddings can be fun. Consider playing up a unique venue, offering guests games and activities, or hiring live entertainment.

Turn it into a live show.

It’s your wedding. You don’t need a DJ to move your guests through directional dances if you don’t want to. 

Hire a cover band, find some aerial artists, or set up guided activity stations that don’t require liquid courage for guests to enjoy.

Take the show on the road.

Think about hosting your wedding guests at a place that’s special to the two of you. 

Treat them to a high tea or a blast from the past at the town roller rink. Go for a hike with your family members or spend the afternoon at an amusement park. 

Make it a game night.

If you’re already a fan of board games, offer tableside versions of your favorites. Family-friendly weddings will love access to lawn games. 

Be prepared for things to get a little wild if there’s a giant tumbling tower involved!

Create an unforgettable spread.

The food you offer guests should be top-notch if you’re not serving alcohol. Don’t forget about the sweets, either. 

Think beyond the wedding cake and serve up an epic dessert table. Make it interactive for an added bit of fun. Hello, waffle bar!

Advantages of a Dry Wedding

We’ve already talked about the money you save and the face some of your guests may save thanks to your decision to host an event without alcoholic beverages.

Seriously, some of the worst wedding stories come back to alcohol. From disappearing grooms to friends of the groom declaring their undying love for the bride to altercations over spilled cocktails, booze can make people quite a bit bolder.

There are other advantages that you may not have even considered planning your special day.

Leaving out the alcohol means you can consider venues that were off the table before you made that decision. Many outdoor venues like beaches and lakefronts have strict requirements around when, even if, drinking is allowed on site.

A dry wedding also avoids potential wedding night dissatisfaction. All of that nervous energy from the wedding day often translates to drinking to excess. That can carry over to the wedding night with sexual dysfunction that can happen past a certain threshold.

You don’t have to skip the wine at your dry wedding.

A dry wedding doesn’t have to mean a wedding without wine. Pair your wedding menu with a variety of non-alcoholic wine styles that taste more like the real thing.

Surely’s wines are made just like regular wine. The alcohol’s just removed at the end to give you delicious red wines, sparkling whites, even pink rosé wines that will keep your guests happy. You can give your guests a glass of wine without the drama, and have the day you want!

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