After months of planning, your big day has arrived. You’ve said your vows and cut the cake. Everyone’s dancing and having a great time. It feels like nothing could ruin the memories of this important day of your life – and nothing will, if you take the appropriate measures necessary to ensure that no guests drink and drive.
We recommend a two-pronged approach: curtail excess alcohol consumption while simultaneously preparing for the worst-case scenario (i.e. have a plan in place for dealing with guests who have had too much to drink).
CONTROLLING ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
No bride or groom wants a dull wedding. Many consider an open bar an essential ingredient in preventing guests from leaving the reception early. So how can you make sure your wedding guests can cut loose and have fun, but also make sure things don’t get too out of hand? Here are a few different ways for handling how drinks are distributed during your wedding reception.
Limit the selection of alcohol. A fully stocked bar is more likely to promote overindulgence. By limiting liquor to just a couple kinds, and concentrating more on a basic store of wine and beer, you discourage drinking to excess. Want an even stricter approach? Forgo regular forms of alcohol in favor of a light “watered-down” Champagne punch. This allows guests to drink for free without the alcohol content necessary for easy intoxication.
Restrict access to the open bar by limiting the hours it is available. This can be done in one of two ways – close the bar during dinner (allowing access before and afterward), or keep the bar open for the initial two to four hours of the reception shutting it down plenty of time before the reception ends. The DJ can announce when the bar is opening and closing so guests stay informed of what is going on.
Skip the open bar altogether in favor of wait staff service. It may be worth paying the wait staff a bit more to take tableside drink orders, or to make rounds about the room with the alcoholic beverages on trays. This option makes the alcohol a bit more difficult to access which could result in a fun, but controlled, party.
Another popular method that is also cost conscious (no open bar or wait staff necessary) is to supply each table with a couple bottles of wine – end of story. Having to share with others decreases the chance that one individual will take more than their fair share.
Lastly, you could have a cash bar where guests pay for their own drinks – a surefire way to discourage excessive drinking. Consequently, this is also another method used by couples to save money on the reception.
HAVE A PLAN
No matter what your tactic, however, you must prepare for the worst-case scenario: a drunken guest who tries to leave the reception and get behind the wheel of a car.
First, designate a member of your wedding party (often this is a groomsman) to be the Watcher. The Watcher looks out for anyone who seems to be imbibing a bit too much. The bartender, if you have one, can also help keep an eye on people.
Make sure both rides and rooms are available for guests to use. Both the DJ and the Watcher can remind guests throughout the night that these things are available to them.
Be sure to keep your guests well hydrated (another key in preventing inebriation) by supplying water, non-alcoholic punch, and soft drinks.
Food soaks up alcohol in the stomach and slows the rate of alcohol absorption. After-dinner snacks like cheese and meats (nothing too salty; it increases thirst) are a great idea.
If worse does come to worst and a guest refuses to accept a room or a ride, and insists on driving home, the Watcher, having tried all forms of discreet reasoning, should be prepared to physically restrain him or her from getting behind the wheel of a car. And if need be, the police should be called to help facilitate the matter calmly.
Hopefully, things will not escalate that far. No one wants to remember how their wedding day was ruined by a belligerent friend or relative who threatened to put their own life, as well as the lives of others, in danger.
We hope these tips help make your wedding day a safe, and fun event.