Normally when you picture a wedding day there are guests on the lawn sipping glasses of pimms, toasts of bubbles to the new bride and groom and waiters floating around the room filling champagne flutes, but what if you’re planning a no-alcohol wedding?
Dry weddings are becoming ever more common, be it for health reasons, religious beliefs, or purely because the bride and groom aren’t big drinkers. There was a time when a no-acohol wedding invite elicited a sharp intake of breath, but nowadays, couples are (rightfully) realising that their big day can still be a blast, even without booze.
We’ve come up with some key advice to ensure your alcohol free wedding is anything but dry, from unusual drink ideas, to how to make sure your guests don't get bored despite there being no alcoholic drinks on offer.
And even if you are having alcohol, it's nice to provide something more exciting than water for any non-drinking guests, whether that's a pregnant pal or someone who's made a lifestyle choice.
If you’ve ever had a baby, chances are you’ll be pretty familiar with the term mocktail - it’s a non-alcoholic cocktail, complete with all the trimmings you expect from a pina colada.
Gone are the days when teetotallers sipped on an uninspiring lemonade, these days mocktails are every bit as exciting as their alcoholic counterparts. Think tropical umbrellas, fancy slices of fruit and countless unusual ingredients, all adding up to create a drink that guests will be falling over themselves to get a hold of.
"You can still get a ‘wow’ factor with your drinks, naming mocktails after the couple and playing around with garnishes, glassware and ingredients to provide guests with lots of yummy beverages. There is no need to miss out just because there is no alcohol within." says Kelly Chandler, Wedding Planning Director at The Bespoke Wedding Company.
To make life simple, why not serve a pre-mixed non-alcoholic cocktail? The Duchess Virgin Gin & Tonics are created from the very best botanicals, with a taste that's just like a regular G&T - but without the alcohol, and low in sugar and calories, too! At Y&YW, we're partial to a refreshing gin and tonic, and we honestly couldn't tell the difference. You can add a twist with some fruits and herbs.
Offer alcohol free mulled wine
No winter wedding is complete without a warming mug of mulled wine, and non-alcoholic mulled wine is one drink that barely tastes any different when it’s booze free. Serve a steaming glass, complete with cinnamon stick and real fruit, and your guests will be so grateful of the winter warmer it won’t cross their mind that it’s missing a little kick.
Pimp your drink
Pimp your prosecco carts were all the rage at weddings last year, and just because you’re holding a no alcohol event doesn’t mean you can’t get in on the act. Elderflower fizz is just as exciting as champagne when you pop in a strawberry or two, and even a soda, lemon and lime gets interesting with a few added items.
Timing is everything
"It’s really important that you pay extra attention to your timings with no alcohol weddings," says Kelly Chandler. "I'd recommend not making your day too long - your evening reception might need to finish a bit earlier than you might think without alcohol although this will vary enormously on the guest list and the origins/nationality of the majority of the guests."
"When guests are more alert (alcohol works the opposite way) they are more aware of time and are less likely to while away so much time chatting to other guests."
There are some times of day where even the biggest prosecco fan would find it hard to indulge in a glass of bubbles, so holding your wedding at a time not normally associated with alcohol is a great way to have an alcohol free wedding with no questions asked. Think early morning ceremonies followed by lunch time receptions with tea and cake.
While we’re on the subject of cake, an afternoon tea theme to your wedding would mean alcohol wouldn’t be missed at all. Serve quaint cups of tea in vintage chine alongside delicious scones and savoury treats and people are unlikely to notice there’s no glass of white wine alongside their cucumber sandwich.
If you’re dead set on having an evening wedding, you could save lots of money by having it on a weeknight rather than at the weekend, which means people don’t even need to take time off work; your guests will thank you the next day when they don’t have a hangover and can head into work fresh as a daisy to tell all their colleagues about the awesome wedding they went to the night before.
Let me entertain you
"I’d strongly suggest making sure you invest the money that you’d save on alcohol in some really varied entertainment - be it music, close up magic, professional dancers, performers or more at various points in the day to keep guests entertained and fully engaged throughout," advises Kelly.
One worry we hear time and time again is “what if nobody dances because they’re sober?” and the simple answer is, if your band or DJ is entertaining, lack of alcohol won’t stop people hitting the dance floor. They may be more hesitant to start with, but once they hear the opening chords of Beyonce’s Crazy in Love, you know they’ll be throwing some serious shapes!
If you’re really concerned people won’t make the most of the dancing hours, why not invite everyone to join you on the dancelfoor at the end of your first dance? Nobody will be able to resist celebrating the special moment, and hopefully once they’re dancing away you won’t be able to get them off the dance floor.
Keep everyone busy
Like it or not, there are lulls during a wedding where people greatly appreciate a drink; mainly during the photos, or when the speeches are about to happen.
While you and your family pose for an endless stream of photos, why not have waiter circulate with a whole host of different canapés to save guests from wondering where their glass of Champagne is?
"I would pay extra attention to the food being served and make sure its unique and interesting not only in what it is, but how it’s served," recommends Kelly.
If you don't want to spoil the main meal with too many nibbles, you could provide an activity or a beautiful display to keep your guests busy - here at You and Your Wedding we love it when couples have large photo displays to admire and even look for a photo of ourselves in!
Remember to relax
We know it can be stressful worrying if everyone is having a good time, and whether your guests are missing the presence of alcohol, but as always, it's important to remember that this is your big day. The people who love you are there to celebrate the love between you and your partner and are unlikely to miss out on a glass of fizz when they're helping you enjoy the best day of your life.