Etiquette - bride's family wants alcohol, groom's family says NO

mkroegerJanuary 13, 2008

What do you do? The groom's family is against having alcohol at the reception, however, the bride's family & friends definitely want it. How do you make both families happy?

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I doubt you are going to be able to make both sides happy. What does groom say? I would compromise with wine only, and not at tables for Grooms family. Then there is the issue that I assume grooms family will not pay for liquor (which I think is traditional), but I still think you have to offer wine to Grooms families friends.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 10:17PM
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I agree, one or the other side of the family is not going to be happy no matter what you do. So you will have to work out a compromise so neither is completely happy. As suggested have wine only, or wine and beer. No hard liquor or mixed drinks. Have non-alcohol beverages also. Those that do drink can have it, those that don't drink don't have to. But they should not be making the decision not to drink for those that do. Good luck! NancyLouise

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 11:49AM
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Remember the Golden Rule: whoever has the gold, makes the rules. In this case, the family who pays for the reception calls the shots, no pun intended. Now just to be reasonable: if a non-drinker doesn't want to drink, nobody is depriving him of his right to be a teetotaller. If a drinker wants to drink, nobody is depriving HIM, so that is the most fair way to do it. Our right to our own beliefs and ideals end where another person's rights begin. The groom's family should not try to enforce their preferences on other people.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 4:23PM
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This isn't an etiquette question at all; it's a family issue. Etiquette neither demands nor forbids alcohol at a reception, nor does it demand or forbid compromise.

I would need to know more before giving any advice.

Who are the hosts of the reception? Both families? The couple? One family?

What is the groom's family's objection to serving alcohol? A religious prohibition? An alcoholic family member? Fear that their guests will overindulge and act out? Desire for a bare-bones event?

What do the couple want? Do they agree with each other?

Do both families feel equally strongly about this? Have both families been getting their way on some but not all choices?

The answers to these questions will help determine the solution.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 5:35PM
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I agree with Gellchom. This is not an etiquette problem, but an issue of compromise between families. There are numerous issues that need to be considered before a definitive decision can be made. If the groom's parents object because of religious beliefs, I would be more inclined to accommodate them than if they were objecting for some other reason. As a wedding planner, I have had to deal with this issue several times and someone is invariably upset with the final decision, no matter what occurs. What you don't want is to have relatives or family members who drink to excess and ruin the reception.

If the decision is to have an alcohol free reception, the bride's family might choose to host an after party for their relatives and close friends where they serve alcohol. That way, they can do what they want without offending anyone.

As an aside, someone mentioned that the groom's family usually pays for the bar. That is a regional tradition and is not etiquette nor generally accepted or practiced in most areas of the country. Neither set of parents is responsible for any costs that they do not volunteer to incur.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 6:57PM
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I have a similar situation. My family doesn't drink - grooms family does. I don't really want alcohol at my wedding, I find the smell of it offensive. But we decided that for the toast - waiters will offer champagne to those you want it and sparkling cider for those who don't. After that no other alcohol.

We are paying for the wedding ourselves, so the decision is ours alone.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2008 at 8:19AM
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That sounds like a great decision, Pattie.

There is some great advice here. Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 6:57PM
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I agree with Patti, it's really up to the bride & groom. We don't drink but we know my DH's friends do. My dad was against any alcohol and my sister only served sparkling cider at her wedding (she was in AA and so were many of her guests) and I thought her wedding was kinda boring. We ended up offering sparkling cider and champagne for the toast and a self serve margarita/pina colada machine. (there wasn't much alcohol added to the drink machine because we didn't want people getting drunk) and it went very well, except one uncle that had a few shots of the tequila.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 2:55PM
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That opens up an alternative- have the bartender pour really light, so light that nobody can over-indulge and get silly.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 9:23PM
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ok... one of my friends has grandparents that are strict Baptist's... when she was married her mother KNEW her family would not come to the wedding or reception if there was alcohol being served, so she just didn't tell them! Well, after dinner, they opened up the bar with dancing (no alcohol served prior to dinner) and every single relative on bride's mother's side of the family got up and walked out! Her mom figured at least this way they came to the wedding and part of the reception, but both she and the bride were saddened by the whole thing, sometimes people need to not try to force their beliefs on others. I don't understand why they couldn't be there and just not part take themselves.

My husband does not drink alcohol at all, neither did his parents, but we did serve alcohol at our wedding, they just chose other beverages.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 12:56PM
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Sorry to bag on anybody's beliefs but walking out on a couple at their reception like that is just rude and ridiculous. (It does, however, leave more drinks for those who stayed!)

My daughter married a person of another faith and there were several things in both the ceremony and reception that I didn't care for, but it was THEIR day, not mine, so I practiced tolerance, which is supposed to be one of the virtues to which we aspire.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 7:20PM
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If the no alcohol were a religious practice, I would honor it. The toast can always be made using sparkling apple or grape juice. If a dear member of the family is an alcoholic and would have problems with being there with the drinks pouring and would cause embarrassment, I would also consider no alcohol. I am talking about the groom's immediate family for this one. But it is the call of the hosts as to what they want to serve. If the bride's family is paying for the wedding, they are the hosts. If the couple is paying, then they are the hosts.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 11:43PM
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