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.

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


    I want those garters.

    • Oh I would call that VERY MUCH RELATED!
      Those garters are making me rethink my position both on hip flasks and garters in general!

  2. We had a dry wedding. For one, it was a morning/lunch event so we didn’t think alcohol was necessary (and I would encourage this option for folks who want a dry wedding – most people are much less upset about a lack of alcohol in the morning than in the evening). My husband’s family and guests come from a religious background that discourages alcohol. We also just wanted to keep the budget down and didn’t want to offer a cash bar. There were 1.5 people who were bummed about it being dry: my aunt, who is kind of borderline alcoholic anyway and a sourpuss in general, and my brother (he’s the half) who really likes drinking but for over it once it was clear that we wouldn’t have any booze.

    I actually wouldn’t have personally cared that much – I don’t drink but I’m around a lot of people who do (including my husband, when his folks aren’t around xD), but I think I would have been more bummed that someone took it upon themselves to get alcohol rather than just asking. I also specifically planned a booze-friendly after-party for the evening, so I would have felt bad that they couldn’t wait for that event.

    I also would have felt really bad if my husband’s family had been made uncomfortable by someone having alcohol. It would be my family because we’re pretty liberal with the booze normally. But I don’t think it would start a couple off on a good foot to have the different sides made uncomfortable by something like that.

    I also don’t drink for personal/medical reasons (truth be told, I just can’t hold my liquor). I haven’t had more than tiny sips in years. I’ve been to a couple of weddings and other big parties and believe me, it was plenty fun without alcohol. I am super socially awkward, but I have my own strategies for social lubrication when I have to make small talk with a stranger. It’s actually a really good skill to have.

    I’m not saying everyone who wants to drink at a wedding is a horrible drunk, but I think most of the “reasons” for needing alcohol at a wedding strike me as problematic and often selfish. If you want to have a super boozy wedding, go ahead and have it! But make the choice to not have alcohol when you’re asked not to. If I have to suffer through only having water all night because you don’t have any non-alcoholic drinks at your wedding, you have to suffer through iced tea and soda for mine =P

    • I just wanted to say THIS so badly at your last comment about suffering through only water all night because of the lack of non-alcoholic drinks! I’ve only been to one wedding in memory where I wasn’t lumped with water (and even then it was sugary juice instead of a champagne flute)!

  3. Whew! There’s a lot of feels on this!

    I don’t think I have anything to add on the should you/shouldn’t you aspect of the issue but there is a recurring theme of “how could you contemplate doing this” that I’d like to address.

    First of all let me be clear that I wouldn’t be tempted to sneak in my own alcohol. It’s not a big deal for me to attend a dry function and it’s definitely not worth jeopardizing my relationship with the bridal couple.

    But weddings are funny things and the stress doesn’t always flow in one direction — toward the bride and groom. Sometimes guests can feel like they’re servicing one-too-many demands from the couple and even if the individual requests are reasonable, if you pile on too many of them, people start to feel controlled and they push back. “I’m driving 200 miles in the middle of a work week to wear a hideous dress that I had to pay for and now you can’t even let me hop over to the hotel bar to buy myself a drink?!?

    Of course the right way to handle this is through communication. Here’s a copy-n-paste suggestion!
    “Look, I think I’ve done enough for you, bitch. I’m a grown-ass adult and I’m getting a fucking drink”.

    Ha ha — just kidding! I have no idea how to handle this since it’s never bothered me. But I don’t think you’re crazy-in-the-head for contemplating it.

    • Totally spot-on about the stressors, and that was my first thought too. I’m not a huge fan of family functions, so I completely understand wanting alcohol to deal with that. I mean, how many times can a girl be asked when she’s going to settle down or have kids or get a real job, etc.? Then you add in the dress and the travel and the strange town and being riled up with excitement, and you’re likely to need assistance coping.

  4. Here’s a comment I haven’t seen yet (apologies if I just missed it): how do you know you’ve been “discreet”? I don’t know how anyone could be so sure that nobody will spot the booze, but at the same time the drinker will *totally* spot anyone who notices the booze. The physical object is bound to be a lot easier to spot than the glance of someone who sees it. Also, I don’t know about other people, but my powers of observation and my ability to remain subtle are not improved with alcohol.

    Just because nobody said anything or gave you a dirty look doesn’t mean nobody noticed and nobody was upset.

      • Because no one notices that 3 people are in the same stall or that you go to the bathroom every 20 minutes.
        I noticed all of the illicit activity at my cousin’s wedding, from under age drinking to getting high in the bushes. It actually changed the guest list of my own future wedding. Those people I noticed, although family, won’t be getting an invite to my dry wedding.
        If you can sit through 3 hours of The Hobbit, you can handle a reception without booze.

  5. Two of my close friends recently got married. Friend #1 had a dry wedding for rather hypocritical religious reasons (she drinks and parties like nothing else when ‘the church’ isn’t watching) the wedding was about a three hour drive out of town and although I would have dearly loved a drink at various times to help me cope with the other guests who were culty and closed minded, it was actually really lovely to go through the event entirely sober and be able to drive home at the end of it.
    Friend #2 had a typical drinks heavy wedding and although I usually only get tipsy, not drunk, I had had a rough week, not eaten for a few days and as a result got roaring drunk.
    Months later the embarrassment of getting drunk at her wedding and having to leave early because of it is still completely fresh in my mind and I’m not entirely sure if she’s forgiven me for it.
    I think that I have inadvertently become a fan of dry weddings for any reason

  6. After days of this heavily commented-upon posting, I have to say I am pretty disappointed. I thought Offbeat Bride was filled with special, quirky folks who wanted to have some fun with their weddings instead of opting for the one Mom had.

    Instead, it seems full of neurotic drunks. Selfish neurotic drunks. There are so many reasons one would choose not to serve alcohol: medications, allergies, concern for others lack of propriety–and how about just personal preference?

    If one rereads this entire posting, it is all pretty hypocritical. Here we claim we want the right to get married OUR way–be it steampunk, LGBT, or fairies–and we want that to be OK, which it is. Then when someone wants to add “dry” to that list . . . well . . . somehow that is not okay. Maybe even I might need a drink to get through a complete Furry wedding, but if it was supposed to be dry, then dry (and Furry) it is!

    We are here to support each other, not sneak into each other’s weddings (figuratively speaking) and mess with them. Come on, people!

    • Oh? I almost exclusively see comments agreeing that sneaking in alcohol to a dry wedding is disrespectful and not okay.

    • Whuh? Pretty much every comment seems to be in favour of respecting the wishes of the couple having a dry wedding!

  7. I just thought of a good standard for knowing whether sneaking in a flask is ok! If you’re quite sure you could offer BOTH the bride and groom a subtle-but-not-completely-hidden nip off of your flask without either of them being at all offended, worried, or unhappy, then I think you’re a-ok to bring it in! Otherwise, leave it at home.

  8. We just had a dry wedding, and literally addressed this issue with a HUGE sign at the front of our hall. I am a recovering alcoholic, and most of my family are drunks. I just didn’t see us celebrating in typical boozy fashion. But because so much of my extended family are heavy drinkers, we wanted to squish the ‘stealing nips from the flask’ idea or ‘brown bag at the car’ idea in the butt. We made it very clear both on our wedding website that we had zero tolerance for booze, drugs or intoxication and with a sign asking guests to respect our wishes at the hall. Kicking out family on my wedding day because they couldn’t respect that for a few hours was something i was totally prepared to do. Why would we have people like that (disrespectful and rude) celebrate one of the biggest days of our life? We don’t want them for a day, or in our life. Luckily, it wasn’t an issue. But I would guess it’s only because we were obnoxiously clear about it.

    • I’m curious as to exactly what you said on the sign and on your website, partly because you describe it as “obnoxiously clear” (way to stand up for yourself and not care who you piss off! No, seriously, you are one Bad-Ass Bride.) and partly because I’m planning a dry wedding myself and I intend to be extremely clear in my beforehand warnings that “dry” does not mean “Pssst… trunk bar in the red Chevy Cobalt in the back of the parking lot”, it means “if there is alcohol on site we will get in trouble with the site, and possibly with the law, and we are not willing to risk that for you no matter how much we love you – period”. So essentially I’m kind of wondering how you worded it – and asking if I could maybe steal your wording!

  9. The thing that sticks out to me in the post is that the OP’s cousin used to party, but has become teetotal now. That suggests that she’s probably either quit for health reasons or possibly even addiction reasons right? I can see no other reason for banning alcohol from the day altogether. If that’s the case, why would anyone put someone in a position where their health or sobriety would be at risk just because they couldn’t have a drink for a couple of hours? That’s really not cool. Not to mention the hefty fines you could be burdening the couple with if you got caught.

    I’m from England and alcohol at most social events is par for the course. I like a drink myself and it will be served at my wedding. However, if I were invited to a dry wedding, I would absolutely respect the couple’s wishes, no questions asked. There are myriad reasons why people might not feel comfortable having alcohol at their wedding. If you don’t think you can go without a drink at all, either don’t go or wait until after the event.

  10. I attended a wedding last year that was dry. The venue itself did not allow events that served alcohol on their property. The bride and groom wanted the venue more than they wanted the drinking so they did without. A few weeks after the bride confided to me that she was very hurt upon realizing a number or their family and friends (including members of the bridal party) had skipped the “mocktail” hour to go off and buy booze. Not only did they then proceed to get incredibly drunk, but they ruined the surprise exit (bridesmaid announced it, unprompted) and got the couple in trouble with the venue. The management was somewhat understanding, but the drunken rowdiness of a few of the guests ended in property damage and additional clean up fees. What hurt her the most though, was that other guests were so appalled with the drunk guests behavior that they left early. Personally, I would have preferred if they’d had a bar, but I find what the other guests did disrespectful.

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