Post # 1
The last two weddings I went to were completely different. The first one was an evening wedding, which was beautiful! Everyone enjoyed themselves and stayed for hours. Dancing, laughing, joking, just a good time for everyone of all ages. The second was in the afternoon. A lot of people showed up for the ceremony, but most people left as soon as they got a chance. The whole thing was over in just two hours. There was no dancing or anything like that. The difference? The first wedding had alcohol, the second did not.
My point is, I’m planning on having my reception inside a church. Obviously, you can’t have any type of bar at a church reception. However, I don’t want my wedding and the celebration to be over so quickly! I want people to hang around, dance, and have a good time.
Do you think it’s possible to still have a fun, enjoyable reception without the alcohol? If so, how do I get my guests comfortable enough to stay and really enjoy themselves? I’ll take any and all tips and suggestions! Thanks.
Post # 3
I think you answered your own question in the beginning of your post. IMO
Im sure people will still enjoy themselves, but I dont think your going to have a longer reception with everyone dancing and stuff with no alcohol.
I say have lots and lots of good food, maybe have dance competitions or something. REALLY good music. If you want, you COULD have an after party at your house or something for guests who want to have a few drinks, and carry on into the night.
Post # 4
@gabrielle.summitt: Find another place for your reception.
Post # 5
We’re not having any alcohol either. Ours is mostly because there are several recovering alcoholics in FH’s family and we don’t want to tempt them or rub it in their face. We’re just having a shorter reception for our afternoon wedding. I worry people won’t have a good time, but most people that were kind of bummed there would be no alcohol understand why we’re doing it. We intend to invite our wedding party and friends out after the wedding for drinks and things so I hope some people will have a good time.
Post # 6
I am having a cash bar at my wedding, so I’ll probably run into the same problem as well . I think the key to keeping guests longer is to provide lots of yummy food, good music and entertainment, and space out the events of the reception (cutting of the cake, bouquet toss, etc.). Perhaps you can have other things at the wedding besides music to keep them entertained, like a photobooth and a candy bar. Also, do a little research to see other activities brides and grooms have had at their dry receptions – I’m sure there are lots of good ideas that you haven’t thought about.
p.s. Don’t take the advice of changing your reception venue just over the issue of alcohol. It’s your wedding and people should be there to celebrate your marriage, not to get trashed.
Post # 7
I find having alcohol just creates a different vibe. It’s not about getting trashed, but I have never been to a dry wedding that lasted as long as one with alcohol. Dry weddings can still be fun, but they always end earlier in my experiences.
Post # 8
My FI’s brother and his new wife got married in a later morning ceremony and had a lunch reception in the church hall. No alcohol was served, they had non-alcoholic sparkling bottles on the tables for toasts. They had a slideshow, and the typical speeches and cupcakes instead of cake, so no ‘cake cutting’, bouquet or garter tosses. And no music or dancing.
This being said, the speeches and the lunch was probably the nicest one I had been to in terms of having fun, enjoying the meal with the people at your table and that it was my FI’s brother I’m guessing. It’s all about the atmosphere you put out there I think. If you have some good food, the people you love and you have the wedding you want to have and you are married at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
You could do an after party somewhere else if it’s important to you for people to have alcohol at some point in the night and don’t want to change your reception venue. The wedding I was talking about above, did this at 9 pm that night at a local hotel/motel party room. They whole wedding party and younger crowd mostly stayed over at the hotel and partied till 3 or 4 in the morning there. BUT you don’t have to do that, just an option. 🙂
Post # 9
I think you also have to add in the other wedding was afternoon wedding in my experience those wedding receptions tend to start earlier and end early as well.
If you are having an evening wedding and really like the location. Have great food, mocktails, and awesome music.
Some churches allow drinks and music others are very strict on how their halls are used. Speak to the church find out what limitations you have, then really consider if they have the kind of atmosphere you want for your reception.
The final thing I was to say is don’t under estimate your guest. I really enjoy daytime weddings and don’t go to enough. One of my favorite weddings was daytime, with jazz/ champange brunch and I loved it and people stayed in mingle. So while dj and party atmosphere is nice, it isn’t the only way people can enjoy themselves.
Post # 10
@thatredheadedbride: Believe me, cash bar will not change anything. I have never been to an open bar wedding, and they are still loads of fun. I personally think a cash bar is better, because open bars I would imagine tend to get people to drink too much and thats not very fun.
Post # 11
At the risk of sounding like a lush.. I don’t dance unless I’ve had a few drinks. And most of my friends are the same.
That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t stick around at a reception and have a meal and a good time with all my friends, though! Maybe what pp’s mentioned..having an after party somewhere. The promise of an after party might encourage people to stick around.
Post # 12
@gabrielle.summitt: Hi there–great question! 🙂 I’ve been to a dozen or so weddings and the most “lively” ones had alcohol at them. They definitely had the most dancing. HOWEVER… They were also the ones that had the most drama too and were the most expensive. My personal style for weddings is more spiritual, simple, low-key and homespun so the lively weddings were fun but not my favorite although I had a good time at all of them.
If you want people to hang around, my thoughts are give them something to do and get them involved. Food is always a big winner. My wedding was a long time ago, really simple (we were poor college students) and outdoors in a park (not allowed to have an alcohol permit and I was a minor) but people hung around for the following reasons: 1) we hired a local high school’s award winning string quartet so they hung around to enjoy the afternoon and listen to music, 2) there was a ton of food including some fun stuff like a whole table full of enormous strawberries and marshmallow cream cheese dip, 3) We rearranged the seating after the ceremony into small comfortable alcoves for people to reconnect after many years of not seeing each other. I had a kids area set up with bubbles and drawing stuff and a snack station so the parents could relax and visit which was nice. We had a video camera go around so each guest could record a special message to us which is so fun to watch even now. Many of those people have passed away now and it’s really special to us to see them there.
Your wedding will be perfect as long as it’s what you want. 🙂 Congratulations on your big day!
Post # 13
@kjo: I’m hoping everyone will still have a good time! We’re providing unlimited non-alcoholic drinks to all guests, plus a signature seasonal mocktail. My reception is from 1-5, so I think having an open bar is kind of pointless, especially so early in the day.
Post # 14
I really despise the concept that people can not have a good time without drinking alcohol. My FH and I do not drink alcohol and we still manage to have a good time. We are having a short wedding reception on a Friday evening without alcohol. I am sure those who need it in order to have a good time will find their way to nearby bars afterwards.
Post # 15
It honestly really depends on what type of wedding you are wanting to have. An afternoon wedding with or without alcohol tends to end earlier than an evening one would that has dancing. So time of day definitely has a big impact on the wedding time length. Also, really depends on the guests and the couple. Growing up in a very dry religion I’ve been to many receptions that lasted a long time and were a lot of fun to be at (no alcohol at all). But if guests expect to have alcohol in order to be able to dance or loosen up, then yes there will be a definite earlier end time without alcohol. Good music always helps as well. If you can cater some good music that will work with many age groups and appeals to your guests, a lot of times some people will keep enjoying if the company and atmosphere are good. Another idea, if there are some who want to keep partying with you, you can always continue the party elsewhere afterwards, say at someone’s house and have some fun music, etc.
My own wedding is a cash bar, but we aren’t having a typical reception. Both of us want to just enjoy our guests company, have a wonderful dinner/dessert and then call it a night. Our wedding is less than 20 people (which that makes it hard for dancing anyway) but we didn’t want to go for the party all night long dance party after the dinner. So the shorter more relaxed dinner/reception is more of our style.
Post # 16
I think it’s really going to depend on your friends. If the people are use to having fun and not drinking, then they won’t have a problem. None of my friends drink so we can hang for hours, dance, laugh, whatever, and be fine. If alcohol is a part of their social life – a glass of wine with dinner, cocktail with friends, beer at the bar – then they’re going to find it a lot harder to hang out and dance. To be honest, most people don’t dance 100% sober unless they’re from a non-drinking background. They feel to awkward and on display.
Especially being at a church, I’m guessing in a reception hall, I don’t know how you can extend the reception once the food is served. Most people usually check out after that.
I would do the best I could and keep the focus on me and my groom.