your wedding will probably be a time for your guests to celebrate and many will want to drink without moderation. To ensure that this day remains magical and does not end in a nightmare – with the accident of a loved one for example – it is wise to take some precautions. Here are a few strategies to better control the consumption of alcohol during the evening and to ensure the safety of your guests.
In general, drinking on an empty stomach accelerates the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. It is therefore preferable to always offer food when alcoholic beverages are served, therefore, from the cocktail party. Since these occasions often take place during hot summer days, you should avoid at all costs the combination of alcohol under the hot sun but without food! You can also plan a late night buffet, but avoid serving chips, pretzels and other salty snacks that will encourage your guests to drink more.
Open or cash bar?
Of course, if your guests have to pay for their drinks at the bar, they will be inclined to space them out more. However, for many families, the open bar option is paramount and non-negotiable.
Even if you offer an open bar, you can control what is consumed by offering, for example, an open bar limited to wine and beer or with a limited selection of cocktails. By not offering shooters or hard liquor, you will limit the damage! If some guests want them, they can always get them at the bar at their own expense.
Another winning strategy is to offer a punch or very lightly alcoholic cocktails during the cocktail party, so that everyone doesn’t get drunk on the first drink!
From the beginning of the cocktail party and throughout the evening, offer tempting and thirst-quenching non-alcoholic options: an original punch, a non-alcoholic signature cocktail, de-alcoholized sparkling wine, citrus, herb and fruit flavored waters, etc.
Also consider taking care of your guests’ non-alcoholic beverages during the meal (too often, those who do not take alcohol are penalized at mealtime and have to pay for their soft drinks or other beverages at the bar, as some reception hall packages only include wine).
In the evening, offer tea and coffee at the bar, as well as self-serve pitchers of water for the dancers!
Handling drunken guests
As the evening progresses, your guests’ blood alcohol levels will increase. As they come up to you, you may worry about their impairment.
But on your wedding day, that’s the last thing you’ll want to worry about! So it’s best to plan ahead and ask a few reliable (and low- or no-alcohol) family members to stay alert during the evening and take care of the drunk guests. How? Their consumption is their choice, but it is especially important to let them know that they have had too much to drink to drive and to find other possibilities for their transportation (carpooling, cab, shuttle) or by offering them to sleep on site, if necessary.
Your guests have been drinking while eating and they’ve had a few drinks during the evening, in addition to dancing on the dance floor. Are they sober enough to drive?
A simple and reliable way to find out is to provide them with breathalyzer tests. You can order individual breathalyzers from specialized companies, and some venues also have stationary machines on site for everyone to use.
Nearby room options
Many couples getting married away from their home town choose a venue with on-site accommodations to allow guests to drink safely. Another option would be to reserve a block of rooms at a nearby hotel, inn or B&B and inform guests of this when sending out wedding invitations. This way, if several guests book rooms there, you can arrange a shuttle or cab service between the two sites.
A shuttle and cab service
If many of your guests are staying at the same hotel or returning to the city, you may want to rent a bus with a driver to shuttle them back and forth during the evening (with three departure times, for example: 11:00 p.m., 12:30 a.m. and 2:00 a.m.). If the groups to be driven back are rather small, you could also use a cab service (negotiating a rate for the whole evening). Some couples also ask their limousine service to act as a shuttle during the evening before taking the bride and groom back to their hotel.
Drive home service
It is possible to use a drive-through service for a party such as a wedding. Many companies offer to drive your guests home in their cars (a team of two drivers will show up to drive them home). Operation Red Nose is well known during the holiday season. To be eligible for the drive home service, you must pay an event fee (instead of an individual fee) that will allow all of your guests to use the service that night. The additional fee for each ride will be calculated on a per-drive basis, depending on the distance traveled. Also, if you wish to have a team of “escorts” on site during the evening, ready to drive your guests home at any time, there will be an additional charge (hourly rate).
Designated driver and carpooling
The most common and least expensive solution is to carpool with a designated driver who will stay under the 0.08 blood alcohol level. Often, guests from the same family or two pairs of friends can travel together. It’s good for the environment and for everyone’s safety!