On May 8, 2021, I had the privilege of marrying my best friend. Again.
Like many couples last year, we had to postpone our “big” wedding. We still got legally married in 2020 with our immediate families present over zoom. This year, we were able to safely celebrate our marriage on our one-year anniversary with our families and a few close friends. It was the perfect day - and I got to enjoy it completely alcohol-free!
Why I decided to go booze-less at my wedding
I never imagined I would not drink alcohol at my own wedding. Even when I first stopped drinking in January, I always figured I would at least toast with champagne at dinner or have one drink. I mean, why not?
Let me rewind and talk about my alcohol-free journey. I started to question my relationship with alcohol during the summer of 2020. I was admittedly imbibing a little more than usual around the time of our minimony, elopement, whatever you want to call it. So my husband and I took a month off from drinking in June.
Around this time, Diana and I started really digging into the literature on the relationship between alcohol and health while writing our second book, Mocktail Party. That inspired us to do another alcohol-free challenge later that summer. We started engaging with more people in the “sober space” and trying all of the amazing non-alcoholic products that are out there. I noticed the benefits of decreasing my intake of alcohol, like improvements in my complexion and digestion. Drinking alcohol definitely started to lose its appeal. But I didn’t give it up right away.
The last time I drank alcohol was January 2nd, and I really only drank to finish the bottle of champagne that my husband and I opened for New Year’s. Even then, I would have told you that I would probably have a drink at my wedding. Why?
I think I was hesitant to put a label on what I was doing and to make the full commitment to being sober or alcohol-free. I was worried about what people would think, I was worried if I would miss alcohol (namely IPAs and red wine). But what I learned over time is that this is my journey and there is no right answer, except the one that makes me feel my best emotionally and physically. As of right now, that is an alcohol-free lifestyle. I don’t take for granted that I have the full support and understanding of my husband, family, and friends; though, I do often get questioned about whether this is forever.
So ultimately, as the wedding approached, the decision to not drink didn’t feel like one at all, it seemed like a no-brainer. Why would I? I feel better when I don’t drink, I don’t feel like I am missing out, I love my mocktails and non-alcoholic products, and I am certainly not shy about telling people that I don’t drink (anymore).
Benefits of being an alcohol-free bride
Alcohol has become so seemingly integral to celebratory occasions that it can seem wrong to go without it. There are so many moments during the wedding day that we associate with alcohol, thanks to all of the curated pictures we see on social media - popping a bottle of champagne (or several) with your bridal party, having a whiskey with the boys to “take the edge off” before the ceremony, toasts at dinner, open bar fueled dancing shenanigans. Can it really be possible to have fun at a wedding if you don’t drink?
OF COURSE! I had so much fun at my wedding, seeing my friends and family from all over the country after a year of being cooped up. Talking, dancing, singing, drinking. It was a blast, and I was 100% present for every moment. Frankly, I think I would have enjoyed the day less if I had been drinking alcohol.
Since my husband and I were already married, I wasn’t nervous about the prospect of marriage and being with someone forever, but I was definitely nervous about how the day would flow, whether my vision of our ceremony and reception was realized by our vendors, would I trip walking down the aisle in the grass, etc. I know that drinking alcohol on my wedding day would have exacerbated my anxiety. I also didn’t have to worry about feeling and looking intoxicated in pictures, saying something I would regret, or otherwise embarrassing myself in front of my and my husband’s families.
Yes, I am a dietitian, and no, I did not make any significant changes to my diet or workout routine prior to the wedding to “shape up.” In fact, I was working out significantly less, because I was juggling two jobs, book promotion, wedding planning, and more. However, I know that for me personally, eliminating alcohol helped me maintain my weight and feel confident in my skin, literally, on my wedding day. Even after having several slices of pizza at the rehearsal dinner, I didn’t wake up feeling puffy or bloated on the morning of. I attribute that to not drinking.
Finally, if I drank at the wedding, that would have made the logistics of traveling so much more challenging. We drove 10 hours to and from the wedding and had to drive back home the morning after. That would have been very challenging with a hangover!
Let’s talk about the drinks!
Our caterer and wedding venue were more than happy to accommodate our request to serve non-alcoholic beverages at our reception - we just had to provide everything. I was also able to tell our venue how many people in our party would not be drinking, so they were taken out of the alcohol count. This saved us a couple hundred dollars (which, of course, we sunk into buying the AF products).
I wanted to offer a range of alcohol-free options without making things too complicated for the bartender and the staff. We decided to do a signature cocktail and a signature mocktail that we named after our cats: Nigel and Penny. The Penny mocktail was Lyre’s Italian Spritz, Thompson & Scott Noughty AF Sparkling Chardonnay, and a splash of club soda. It tastes exactly like an Aperol Spritz! Seriously so good, perfect for a spring or summer wedding.
We also offered our guests the option of champagne or Noughty AF for toasts. It is crisp, tart, and a spot-on alternative to champagne or prosecco.
Finally, we choose three non-alcoholic beers to serve at the reception. Gruvi’s Pale Ale, Two Roots Enough Said Helles, and Ceria Brewing Company Indiewave IPA. All three of these beers are super delicious and have different flavor profiles, so there was something for everyone.
I ordered all of my non-alcoholic products through Better Rhodes.
They offer a wide range of non-alcoholic products that is ever-growing, they ship their products with care, and they are just good people!
Check out our Products page to learn more about our favorite AF brands! Use code SOBERRDS for 10% off your first order from Gruvi.
Why I am glad I served non-alcoholic products at my wedding
We had an open bar, so our wedding was definitely not dry. However, several people, Diana and me included, do not or cannot drink alcohol for a variety of reasons. It was really nice to be able to offer those guests something other than soda and water and to make them feel included.
Probably the most exciting and unexpected benefit of offering non-alcoholic products at the wedding was that people who are not alcohol-free tried and liked them. I had so many guests tell me that their minds were completely blown by how good the alcohol-free products are. Some people alternated alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the night to pace themselves, one person switched to non-alcoholic beers for half of the night. I think I even inspired a couple of people to offer alcohol-free products at their upcoming events.
I would encourage brides and grooms-to-be, sober or not, to consider offering non-alcoholic alternatives at their events. And I hope vendors will start to include them in their packages. While these products do not work for everyone who is alcohol-free, I think having them available sets the tone and sends the message that not drinking alcohol is ok. And that is what we need - normalization of not drinking. Based on my experience, if you provide alternatives, people will enjoy them.
A friendly reminder that every alcohol-free journey is different. This post is not meant to spark comparison, I am just simply sharing my experiences. Mocktails and NA beverages may be triggering for some who are in recovery. Always follow the guidance of your healthcare provider or sponsor before making these drink alternatives a part of your regular routine.
Diana and Kerry are Better Rhodes brand ambassadors and affiliates, but this post was in no way sponsored by Better Rhodes or any of the brands mentioned. I served these products because I genuinely love them and thought our guests would, too!