Open thread: Is it disrespectful to sneak alcohol into a dry wedding?

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Is it ok to sneak booze into a dry wedding?

Recently I went to a cousin's wedding. She used to party but has recently stopped drinking, and her wedding was dry — punch and water were the only beverages served. I respect her decision to throw the reception she wanted, however, my brother and I wanted to drink something with a little burn. Is it terrible to leave a wedding in a park, go to the liquor store nearby, and sneak back in with our well-hidden brown bag? Nobody noticed we were drinking anything other than the Sunday school punch they were serving. Was that tacky and disrespectful for my brother and I to do?

The short answer is yes, it is disrespectful to sneak alcohol into dry wedding. The longer answer is still yes — but maybe not for the reasons you think.

It's up to you to decide whether you want to respect the wishes of the host of an event you're attending, even if you don't agree with them and could get away with breaking the rules.

Of course you can sneak booze into a dry wedding. Personally, I think most events are better with a flask. As long as you're discreet and don't get obviously inebriated, of course you can get away with it. As long as no one knows, no one's really hurt by your actions.

… But does it feel good?

To me, this question is bigger than alcohol. (Which is a pretty big issue, when you toss in religion and addiction.) Let's say we're talking about a vegan wedding… are you going to sneak some cold-cuts in your purse? Assuming no one smells you, you could probably get away with it (but ew?). Let's say I'm planning an unplugged wedding, and you take a picture with your cell phone without me knowing… that doesn't hurt me. I don't know, I don't care, and meh, whatever!

But do you feel right with yourself for having done that? Ultimately it doesn't matter what the couple or even the internet thinks… how do you feel about YOURSELF?

Based on the fact that you're writing to a wedding blog asking for absolution, my guess is you don't feel great about the decision. While of course it's nice to respect other people's wishes because it's, well, respectful… you're the one who gets to sit with the feelings afterward.

Did it hurt the bride that you brought booze? If you were discreet, probably not. Does it matter if the internet thinks you're “tacky?” Meh, probably not.

… But does it feel good TO YOU to wonder if you were disrespectful? Nope, that feeling sucks. Doubt and regret will follow you around like a farting dog, nipping at your heels and making embarrassing noises and smelling like cold-cuts in your purse at a vegan wedding.

Living your life with integrity is something you do not because it's “tacky” not to or because you might get caught. (I'm here to tell you that the internet thinks everything is tacky.) Living your life with integrity is something you do because you're the one who has to live with the feels when you don't.

I don't know about you, but feeling disappointed in myself is way worse than spending a wedding sober.

Then again, I'm the one who traveled across the country cohosting alternative wedding expos with a flask in hand at all times, so I'm clearly pro-flask. I'm just even more for feeling good about your decisions.

Lovesick Brooklyn 2015

Comments on Open thread: Is it disrespectful to sneak alcohol into a dry wedding?

  1. I grew up in the south at a time where the reception was finger foods. cake and punch in the basement of the church after the ceremony, I never remember alcohol being served at wedding receptions or music and dancing, Everyone seemed to have a good time just talking and catching up with old friends and family, Most people in our family did serve alcohol in their home when entertaining however would never have dreamed of trying to sneak it in to someone’s wedding, I am wondering when this all changed and people thought they had to have alcohol at a wedding or is this a regional thing? I do feel it is disrespectful to go against the wishes of your host and sneak in alcohol at a dry event, There is usually a good reason the event is dry which as a guest is really none of your business, Just as if you are not attending an event because of no alcohol it is not your business to insult your host by telling them that is why you are not attending, A simple I cannot make it that day would suffice, I want to know why people today think it is ok to be so rude to people, Especially people who are spending a good amount of money to provide food and beverage for you. If you cannot have a good time at an event without alcohol then you are the one with the problem and not them, I have attended weddings in recent years where alcohol was served and at every one of them at least one person was drunk and making a fool of themselves before the evening was over, Maybe some people would like to avoid that situation at their wedding,

    • I definitely think that regional/cultural differences are a big thing here.

      Where I’m from, alcohol (in moderation) is absolutely the normal, expected thing at basically any social event involving over-18s that begins after noon, and it’s very unusual for restrictions to be imposed outside religious buildings.
      (We make up for this with draconian restrictions on confetti.)

      So, I’ve been finding it pretty weird to see a lot of the ‘you wouldn’t expect alcohol at [x type of party], would you?’ comments here. Because I totally would. Indeed, for any kind of house party, I’d bring alcohol, because ‘polite guests bring wine to the party’ has been beaten into me.
      The last time I hosted a barbecue, I ended up with twice as much wine as I started with, because everyone adhered to that etiquette despite not actually being wine-drinkers.

      That’s absolutely not to say that I or my friends wouldn’t respect decisions to do things differently!
      But this discussion has made me think that if I ever host an event where I have guests coming in from different places, it would probably be worth spelling out some of the aspects that I take for granted, so nobody is caught out or leaps to any negative assumptions.

      (And yes, I totally agree that it is unnecessary to tell anyone that you aren’t coming to their event because you don’t like what they’re doing! Whatever happened to ‘we’d love to come, but we have prior commitments’?)

      • ‘we’d love to come, but we have prior commitments’

        This is the aspect of wedding guest outrage that confuses me the most… it’s a part you’ve been invited to! No one has to attend! It’s ok, everyone: you can just politely decline! Life will go on!

  2. I just don’t understand the absolute need to have alcohol. My family is crazy enough without the damn stuff…

    Ours will be teetotal for health reasons, namely that I’m bipolar and drinking is a trigger for me. I can imagine that on such an very emotional day I’ll probably end up on an up (which, plus alcohol is a very dangerous mix for me) If I’m up, I don’t necessarily care about the consequences, so by removing the temptation to drink, it solves a bunch of problems before they even *become* problems. Anyway.

    We’ve taken the approach with this of warning people (so they’re not disappointed), and explaining if they ask for reasoning (which most people have. Not in a rude “how darest thou remove my piss-up juice!” kinda way, but an “is everything ok?” kinda way). Once they understand, everyone seems to be pretty much, “yeah, sure, we can go with that. IT’S GONNA BE SO AWESOME!”

    And that’s so encouraging. These decisions (to drink or not to drink, ecru or eggshell napkins, etc) which seem so much more trivial in daily life seem to take on a whole new meaning when the word “wedding” is mentioned.

  3. The question of it being disrespectful is quite valid (and I agree that it is disrespectful), but there is also the question of legality.

    I am opting for a dry wedding for various reasons, and normally, I wouldn’t care all that much if someone sneaks in a discrete nip. However, due to certain stipulations that we didn’t look into (because we knew we wanted a dry wedding), events at our location that include alcohol require a police detail. Since we will not have the police detail, if someone sneaks in alcohol, I’m not sure what kind of liability that would cause for us, and I really, really don’t want to find out!

    We’ve been pretty open about telling our guests this, especially the ones we’re afraid might try to sneak something in.

  4. I need to bring up an uncomfortable possibility that I don’t think anyone else has mentioned: If you feel an absolute need to sneak alcohol into a dry wedding, you should take a serious moment and consider whether YOU are part of the reason why the couple decided to have a dry wedding. Many couples choose to limit or eliminate alcohol from their weddings to keep a select few guests from drinking, and you could be one of them.

    It’s also worth pointing out that if you feel that booze at a wedding is a need and not just a want, you might want to look into getting professional help for whatever you “need” the alcohol for. Alcohol may be the easiest, but probably isn’t the best solution for your problems.

    At the end of the day, it comes down to this: Your friend/family member told you to not do a thing. Not doing the thing won’t harm you in any way. You do the thing anyways. That kinda makes you an asshole.

  5. OMG! Why would someone even consider doing something like that? Our morning wedding is dry because it is in a state historic park. It is in the morning because it will be on July 4, and we realize folks have a few other obligations on such a holiday, even if it is only getting home in time to give the dog her calming pills. We seriously want people to come, have some fun, and leave everything the way it was before they got there.

    Please drink all you wish at home, but not at our wedding! Don’t drive home at 2 in the afternoon buzzed already, please!! Can I say “please” enough? Because the idea that someone didn’t make it home because they sneaked in alcohol to our wedding would be heartbreaking. Come on!! Three hours?? Really?? Please???

  6. So your cousin has “recently stopped drinking” and wanted a dry reception. That indicates that she’s avoiding alcohol because of her own health and recovery, which makes sneaking in booze a pretty horrible thing to do. Chances are she knows you drank because she has plenty of experience with people who are consuming alcohol. People who are acting drunk frequently don’t realize they are.

    “I respect her decision to throw the reception she wanted.” Well, if you did, you wouldn’t have snuck out and snuck liquor in.

    “In a park.” See the previous comments about legality.

    “Sunday school punch” If you think that alcohol-free punch belongs only in the kids’ section of a church, then you may want to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol.

    All in all, I’m going to say that at best, sneaking around was a bonding experience with your brother, which is great, but it could have been done at a better time. At worst, it sounds like you don’t have much respect for your cousin’s wishes and may possibly have a drinking problem. If your cousin ever mentions your drinking at her reception, I recommend apologizing.

  7. Two of my best friends got married when we were all 21/22 years old. They had their reception in a park because they were on a tight budget and it was the cheapest venue they could find. Park rules said no alcohol.
    So we all had fun hanging out at the reception, and when the (exhausted) bride and groom called it an early night, a bunch of us kids went out to a bar and had drinks. It was a perfectly lovely day, and nobody complained about the lack of booze at the reception. Because we all loved our friends, and understood that they couldn’t afford a reception hall and a lot of booze. No big!
    That being said, I’m not much of a drinker but I do enjoy a drink or two at a wedding because I am a socially anxious person. Dry weddings aren’t the end of the world though!

  8. The last wedding I attended was dry and it was the bride and groom who had flasks.

  9. I personally think that is terribly disrespectful. You don’t have to like or even know why someone wants a dry wedding/event, but if you are attending you do have to respect that. For me, my dad is and was a heavy alcoholic and very physically abusive to my sister, myself, our pets and any girlfriend he had. Also my grandmother is and was a nasty alcoholic and verbally abusive to everyone and anyone. I don’t feel I should have to share this story and it’s details with everyone of my guests just to get them to understand why, they should just respect our wishes. Even now as an adult, I barely drink and when I do, it’s very little. I personally feel, if someone can’t go a few hours without a drink, they are not someone I want to be around much less have at my wedding or event. I could go on and on, but it would just make me more angry at the subject.

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