Attending My First Sober Wedding in 18 Years

tips for attending a wedding when you don't drink alcohol

If something bad happens, you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens, you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens, you drink to make something happen

-Charles Bukowski


Even though I am a married woman, I’ve never been much of a fan of weddings. For some, the environment of weddings is hopeful and inspirational and for others – like me – weddings are full of questionable energy and an open bar – not the best of combos.

I am just back from a two-week trip to America with my husband built around the celebration of my little sister’s wedding.

tips for how to survive a wedding sober

It wasn’t my first trip back home since I quit drinking, but it was the first wedding I had attended since I boarded the sobriety wagon. Incidentally, it’s also the first summer in five years that I have been able to hit the beach – and get a tan!

A Scotsman discovers the Sun.

Every wedding I’ve attended in the past two decades – including my own – I drank at — a lot.

I always believed that was what people go to a wedding for – and I know more than once I’ve heard people say that the ‘open bar’ is the only reason they attend a wedding reception.


I had no anxiety about the idea of attending any wedding events without having any alcohol. However, I did notice how little some places equip themselves with non-drinkers in mind.

For example, the wedding rehearsal dinner took place at a taproom, but I thought surely they would have one non-alcoholic beer for me to try.

However, when I asked what they had to offer for non-alcoholic drinks the waitress said, ‘Um, orange juice?’. #Fail.

I think most places should get on board by offering at least one creative non-alcoholic option, but maybe that’s just me.

Then came the day of the wedding and the morning in the bridal suite. At past weddings, the hours leading up to the event usually consisted of bottomless mimosas while getting hair and makeup done. And if I’m frank, Prosecco and mimosas are one of the drinks I miss the most. But, I powered through with making myself a ‘nomosa’ with ginger ale and orange juice – not a poor substitute.


So, I had the non-alcoholic version of my drink on hand, and that helped to take the edge off. But here’s a what occurred to me about ‘taking the edge off’ while venturing through the events of the big day, sans liquor; there was NO edge to take off. Navigating a tight schedule of hair, makeup, ironing, photo-taking, and standing here and there and here again — was infinitely less stressful being a) not hungover from the rehearsal dinner and b) not being at least two sheets to the wind before the event even kicked off.

Attending a wedding sober or the first time in two decades – how did I survive? #alcoholfree #soberlife Click To Tweet

You’re probably not that shocked by this discovery, but for me, it was the first time I was able to step back and realise how much less hassle and stress ensues when we have a lucid (well, er, sober at least) mind. I like to call these my, “Bob Ross moments”.


One of the things I have noticed as I’ve navigated social events over the past 16 months of no alcohol is that being around people who are drunk when you’re not is a lot of work. Between people saying nonsensical things to you and hearing the same commentary three times in ten minutes from somebody whom you’ve never spoken within your life, you begin to feel mentally drunk too.

So, when all is said and done, my years-long assessment of the emotional energy at weddings is still pretty true regardless of being sober. While my sister’s wedding was a joyous and beautiful event, there were definitely moments of people being dramatic, snipping at each other, and spending 50% of the night standing in a line – either the bar or the toilets. I managed to cut that line standing time down to 25% which enabled me to have more time to dance to the Spice Girls with my mom and sister-in-law and catch up with family I hadn’t seen in almost 5 years.

7 tips for surviving a wedding while sober #soberliving #noalcohol #nowinenoproblem Click To Tweet

Also, ginger ale and pink grapefruit juice with a couple of slices of lime is a delightful beverage. In fact, I have included this drink suggestion in my ‘tips for surviving a wedding sober’ (Pin it, go on!)


Have you ever attended a wedding sober? Do you like weddings? Am I weird for not being a fan of them? Let’s chat!

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