Keeping a Sober Head at Your Reception


You’ve spent the last year arguing with vendors, wrangling wayward bridesmaids, stretching an inadequate budget, tying tiny ribbons on things it’s entirely possible nobody but you will notice, and generally hovering on the precipice of your nineteenth nervous breakdown. Now it’s time to party!

But after all of this effort, you really don’t want to spend your wedding night getting plastered. Well, maybe you do, but if that’s the case, just move along, nothing to see here. If, on the other hand, you have concerns about overdoing the festivities and don’t like that idea, just follow me after the cut for some sage advice on how to have a great time but still keep your head at your wedding.

My first piece of advice is this: be sure to eat on your wedding day. Seriously, this is probably the number one reason brides and grooms wind up overdoing the bubbly and spending more of the night fighting to get at the porcelain god than enjoying their first night of marital bliss.

Many brides and grooms are terribly nervous, come the big day. Whether it’s concern about something going wrong, cold feet, or simple stage fright, it’s easy to let those nerves make you think you can’t keep anything solid down. And then all too often, members of the bridal party are right there telling you nothing relieves the jitters and settles the tummy better than a glass of bubbly.

If you’re concerned that nerves might make you less than hungry, deputize someone to feed you on your wedding day. Talk to them beforehand about what sorts of food you think you might be able to handle in a crisis.

Remember, an empty stomach only makes the alcohol hit your system faster, and that means it takes a lot less for you to hit the floor.

Find another way to relax other than drinking. Drinking does relax people. It’s a depressant. That’s what depressants do. And in moderation, it’s good, clean fun that the whole adult family can enjoy. But it’s a depressant with consequences… you know, like most depressants. So if you can find a way of avoiding the stress or reducing it in a way that doesn’t involve alcohol, you won’t find yourself reaching quite as eagerly for the bottle and have a better chance of staying in control. So look for something like a breathing exercise, or something thing useful you can be doing with your hands. Go for a run before you have to get ready, or mentally calculate what the Titanic would have weighed had it been made of balsa wood. It doesn’t really matter what you’re doing, so long as it is something that relaxes you.

Be certain there are drinks at your reception that don’t include alcohol. This is just good advice, anyway. After all, chances are there’s someone on your guest list who either doesn’t drink or does so quite abstemiously. And if people have the option to drink less booze, well, that can save on the catering bill as well as making it that much less likely that anyone will overindulge. So do mix your drinks. Have a glass of champagne, and then make the next one fruit juice or water.

Remember, alcohol can contribute to dehydration… which makes you thirstier, which makes you drink more and makes the alcohol hit harder. Mixing it up with non-alcoholic drinks keeps you hydrated, which reduces your need for more drinks.

Have a receiving line. This is not only excellent etiquette, it’s also a helpful way of making sure you get to sit down and eat your reception meal rather than spending the dinner hour going from table to table and hunting down stragglers you missed. Remember, it’s just as important to eat at the reception as it is before the ceremony.

Look, everybody overindulges in something sometime. It’s not the end of the world if you do get tipsy at your own wedding. If it happens, try not to dwell. Let it go and go on with your life.

But if one ounce of this prevention keeps you from needing bail money on your wedding night… that’s a heck of a lot better than a cure!

Enjoy responsibly.

2 Responses to “Keeping a Sober Head at Your Reception”

  1. Lisa in Berlin September 22, 2011 at 3:25 am #

    Oh my gosh, this post reads like a list of everything we did wrong at our wedding! We ditched the receiving line because we thought it would be stuffy and awkward, with the result that I ate maybe half my dinner because we had to get back up and say hello to a million people. And this was all after I barely managed to snag breakfast after my husbands 10 siblings and their families descended on the hotel’s buffet while I got caught having to introduce various family members to one another. That and my brother handing out shots were probably the two reasons I was hugging the porcelain goddess on my wedding night ….oh well.

  2. Twistie September 22, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    Yeah, I’ve seen it a few times over the years. It’s the sort of thing a lot of couples don’t really consider beforehand, so they don’t have a game plan come the wedding day.

    I certainly hope the marriage has turned out better than the wedding night!