wedding reception

spring2010February 4, 2009

As I'm planning my wedding, I've realized that planning the reception is going to be a major obstacle. My family has always been opposed to drinking, for religious reasons. I've slightly rebelled and drink occasionally (without my family knowing) and enjoy it, and my fiance drinks as well. His family is Irish, so unsurprisingly they are drinkers too. I just don't know how to plan the reception while not offending anyone, or making anyone unhappy/uncomfortable. I've thought of possibly having dinner with my side of the family after the wedding, then having dessert/drinks with fiance's family? I just dont want everything to be so separated, all because of alcohol. If anyone has advice on coming up with a good compromise I would really appreciate it!!

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How about a morning wedding with a lunch reception following? I'm sure your future in laws wouldn't mind a lunch without alcohol.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 6:01PM
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Definitely don't have separate receptions. Almost negates the whole idea of the wedding!

What does your fiance say? Does his family not have a good time without alcohol? Maybe they wouldn't even care. They might be disappointed or a bit surprised, but I doubt they'd be "offended."

Duckie's suggestion is really good. I like alcohol at an evening party, too (although I wouldn't care if there weren't any), but I don't think I would even notice if there were no alcohol served at a lunch reception.

If you have an evening reception, just get straight to the meal; skip the "cocktail hour" (or whatever you'd call it without cocktails!) entirely. Saves money, too. If it is a very small wedding, you wouldn't be having a cocktail hour, anyway.

If your group is so small that you are talking about, say, a dinner in a restaurant, how would your family react to others' ordering drinks? I assume that they have friends who drink and deal with it somehow; they will do the same with your fiance's family.

I assume your family would object to wine or champagne, too, even for a toast. Is that right? If not, and you could serve wine or a wine punch, that would be plenty anyway for an evening reception.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 10:04PM
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If you plan the wedding for late morning, as Duckie suggested, or early afternoon, you wouldn't be expected to serve alcohol. I wouldn't have two receptions; that may offend your family if they know that they were invited to only half the party because they don't drink.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 10:52PM
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This day is about you and your fiance and how in love you are. Nothing else.

Trying to plan a wedding and make people happy is stressful in itself. In this situation, someone is not going to be happy.

I like the idea of an earlier wedding but if you can't do that you can either think of other ways to make people happy or do what you need to do.

There is alcohol at most weddings. Some have it just for the toast. Will your family not understand serving alcohol? Will his family understand you not serving it? Would it cause either sides to not go?

FWIW, this was why hubby & I didn't have a local wedding. I couldn't deal with who was a brides maid or maid of honor, didn't want the BS. Turned out to be the best thing we ever did. Had a beautiful private wedding at Cypress Gardens in FL. The day was about us not about the guests.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 6:51AM
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I agree with what's been said above. It's way more offensive to try to separate the families than to not serve alcohol. And that's the way I'm leaning. Since your family objects to it for religious reasons, it seems that it would be more offensive to them if you serve it than it would be to those who drink if you don't.

Do you really think your fiancé's family will be offended by the lack of alcohol? They might be uncomfortable if it is their norm to drink at a wedding, especially their son's, but it seems to me that this could be smoothed over in advance. I would think that if your fiancé explained the circumstance to his family they would understand.

I'm not sure there really is a compromise, you either have it or you don't.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 12:56PM
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Compromise is what life - and marriage - are all about. If people don't want to drink, they should not drink. What others do is not their business. Ditto to the ones who do drink. Serve plenty of non-alcoholic alternatives and remind all to be tolerant. If you don't set a precedent now, this problem will re-appear for the rest of the blending of these two families, and why should either group have the right to set the behavior of those of the opposite opinion?

There once was a pretty extensive thread on this same subject. You may want to search for it.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 2:15PM
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I'm with Scarlett.
Served rinks and those that don't wish to drink don't have to.
Sort of like having a meal where some people are vegitarians....serve meat and have food for those who don't want to eat meat.....but your preferences shouldn affect me.
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 11:48PM
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Well, but I don't think it's that simple -- otherwise, the OP wouldn't be asking.

Her family doesn't just "not wish to drink." They apparently think drinking is objectionable, possibly immoral or sinful -- so much that she hides the fact that she now drinks occasionally from them. For all we know, they DON'T go to parties where alcohol is served.

And this wouldn't just be some outsiders' party or restaurant they are at where others are drinking. This is their own child's wedding. If there are uneasy feelings about differences between their family's values and their own, why bring that to the fore at the wedding itself? I think the OP is being considerate. And I do think that while it is also nice of her to be considerate of her new family's preference to have alcohol at celebrations, that preference just doesn't compare to how much it means to her family.

If the question were something like some time after they are married, her husband's family has another wedding or party or something and invites her parents, and she wanted to know if she could ask them not to have alcohol, my answer would be different. It's not like their religious or moral beliefs must always trump other people's preferences. But in the case of their own child's wedding, I think that the "lowest common denominator" of a dry reception is the best choice, and having a brunch rather than an evening dinner dance solves the problem beautifully.

People who keep kosher don't care what other people eat. But if their own child had a non-kosher wedding reception -- especially when it would be so easy to have a kosher one, or at least fish, dairy, or vegetarian -- I could see how they would feel like it was not just a slap in the face to them, but a public declaration of their child's rejection of their values. How much more so if it were a pig roast? Or a mixed grill BBQ for Buddhist vegetarians?

Now, of course the OP can make her own choice about alcohol. But she obviously isn't even ready to tell her parents privately about that choice, so I doubt she wants to use her wedding to make that disclosure.

It's very easy to say "What others do is not their business" and the like. But that focuses only on her right to make her own choices, which isn't her concern. The OP didn't ask how to stand her ground and have alcohol at the reception. Rather, she is thinking about how to be considerate and avoid "offending anyone, or making anyone unhappy/uncomfortable." She asked for suggestions for a compromise that would accomplish that, and she got them: have a brunch, or, if it would be more acceptable to her family, have alcohol, but just a toast or punch or something.

What really concerns me here is that she and her fiance were considering having separate receptions. I don't care WHAT reason there would be for that, I think it would be much better even to have NO reception than separate ones.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 5:39PM
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Are these people functional adults?

Do whatever you want. Or, if someone else is paying for it, do what they want.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 6:29PM
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As usual I agree with gellchom. There's a big difference between what goes on at your child's wedding and what goes on at subsequent events with the blended families. And it doesn't seem to me that either group is trying to set the behavior of those of the opposite opinion.

No matter who is paying, the parents are in effect the hosts of the wedding, and to ask them to host an event where alcohol is being served, something which is against their beliefs, is not acceptable. Gellchom puts it beautifully when she compares it to a kosher or Buddhist vegetarian family.

Now, later, after they're married, if they want to serve wine at Thanksgiving dinner at their home, for example, those who wish to drink can and those who don't can abstain. Of course this assumes that the parents will attend events where alcohol is being served (as gellchom pointed out, some people won't if they have religious objections).

Or if the groom's family hosts an event where all are invited, surely the bride's parents can't dictate whether or not alcohol should be served.

But a wedding is in a completely different category, and to just say that the parents of the bride should tolerate something at her wedding which is against their religion, without their consent, is just wrong.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 1:22PM
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How on earth can drinking be so important? Just have a nice, non alcoholic reception--and only one!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 5:52PM
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His family is Irish, so unsurprisingly they are drinkers too."

Perhaps because I'm Irish, I find this sterotypical statement shockingly insensitive, offensive, and rude.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 1:46PM
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After parties are becoming a big thing around my area. Have a non alcoholic reception and go to a club for the after party.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 3:22PM
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After parties have been popular for several years. If his parents want to host one (the bride and groom should not), that would be their option. They could then entertain their family and friends in any manner they choose.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 6:22PM
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Sweetpea, after parties may be old hat where you live but where I'm from they are just getting here, so don't assume. I'm just saying that may be an option for this poster.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 11:27PM
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I have run into this situation several times as a Bridal consultant/hostess at wedding receptions.
I have mixed thoughts on this. There are TWO people getting married and TWO have families to consider...not just the bride's side.
If the bride's family is paying for the entire wedding/reception-their wishes should be respected for the most part. Even non-drinking parents I consulted were agreeable to a couple of options:
1. A champagne toast prior to dinner was acceptable (grape juice or ginger ale for the non drinkers)...and cocktails were served only prior to dinner-then the bar was shut down for the rest of the evening.
2. Only a champagne toast prior to dinner and then 1 hour before the reception was to end-a bar was opened for those who wished to drink, could-and those who objected, could leave since the majority of the reception time was dry and they enjoyed their time there-alcohol free. An after party (and the bar), was moved to a nearby place for continuing the celebration.
3. If there's to be a lot of out of town guests staying at a nearby hotel-some bridalcouples rented the hotel's meeting room where the management set up a bar & munchies for after the reception.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 9:06AM
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All these suggestions might be great for some people, where the issue is just keeping both drinkers and non-drinkers happy. But they ignore a major issue in the OP's case:

"My family has always been opposed to drinking, for religious reasons. I've slightly rebelled and drink occasionally (without my family knowing) ...."

SHE HASN'T TOLD HER FAMILY SHE DRINKS. And -- very understandably -- she doesn't want to use her wedding to tell them. But the subject is sure to come up she serves alcohol at the reception, even if she doesn't drink any herself. They may not know that her fiance drinks, either.

But even if that weren't the issue, if it is so important to her family that it would cause them real pain, shame, or embarrassment, then why do it? Even if they did know she drinks sometimes, she doesn't want to rub it in their faces, at the wedding, in front of all their relatives and friends, of all times. Whether they are paying is irrelevant. (If they were hosting this reception, there wouldn't even be a question.)

And it's not only her family's feelings -- it's her own, too. For her, the whole reception would be about this whole issue -- the whole idea has her so distressed that she was actually considering having separate receptions. Do you think she could possibly enjoy her wedding day if she were worrying about this? She'd be dreading it.

It sounds like the only solution for her is to have a dry reception. What's the big deal with that, anyway? I don't understand why it would even be a problem for anyone. Sure, some people might be disappointed that there isn't alcohol -- but then, some people will be disappointed that there is cilantro in the salad and the cake isn't chocolate.

We haven't heard from the OP in a while. Spring 2010, what are your thoughts? (If Spring 2010 is when the wedding will be, you have time!)

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 12:55AM
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