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Tips for A Sober Wedding Guest

September 1, 2017
Words by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Caroline Tran

Getting married or being part of a destination wedding bridal party comes with all sorts of expectations and pre-conceived notions of behavior. For example, when you think of a bachelor party you might think of an alcohol-fueled trip to Vegas, and when you think of a bridal shower your mind most likely envisions a Champagne-filled brunch. There’s certainly nothing wrong with these scenarios, but what if you’re practicing sobriety?

As a person who regularly chooses not to drink, I never cease to be amazed at the shocked, judgmental or even hostile reactions I get. When an addiction specialist wanted to share her tips for being sober at a wedding or wedding event with DID readers, we jumped at the chance. So, whether you’re sober because you’re recovering from an addiction or simply by choice, hopefully the tips below will help you navigate the sometimes-troubled waters of being sober at a celebratory event.

1.    Plan, Plan, Plan!

Get as much information as possible (without being the annoying bridesmaid or friend) about what events will be taking place, so that you can know what to expect.

2.    Beverage in Hand

If you are at a bar, club or specific drinking venue, have a beverage in hand throughout the night. This can decrease the chance of being asked if you want a drink or just being asked about drinking in general! Also, it provides some comfort around your own inability to drink because oftentimes drinking at a bar, etc. can be more ritual than desire.

3.    Own Transportation

If possible, arrange to drive yourself to the location of the events. This gives you a quick “out” if needed and also doesn’t make you responsible for others at the end of the night. There is nothing more annoying than being the babysitter for your drunken and vomiting friend! If everyone is going on a party bus, research cab, Uber, or Lyft info in the area so you can leave when you choose.

4.    Options?

Probably worth checking if you are able to miss some of the events – for example, maybe just go to dinner and not the club? Or, only go to the club for an hour! This allows you some freedom in case you aren’t feeling comfortable, but also helps the bride (or groom) know in advance that you may leave early.

5.    Support

In hopes that you have another friend attending, discuss with them the need for some support. Maybe drinking isn’t that important to them and they want to be there for you if it gets difficult. If you don’t know anyone or your friends would rather not decrease their drinking, make sure you have support on hand thru your cell phone if needed.

6.    Help Plan if Possible!

A great way to not have to focus on drinking (or not drinking for that matter) is to offer assistance to those who have planned the event. If you have a “duty,” you will be more likely to be focused on making sure all goes well versus your own needs.

7.    Caffeine and Sugar

It’s recommended to watch your intake of both of these, as they can increase your level of agitation and discomfort if you are already uncomfortable not drinking. 

8.    Boundaries

If comfortable, let other attendees know that you are not drinking during the course of the party/weekend. This decreases others from bugging you about it, while also increasing the chances of overall support. I always like to tell the gals I am not going to be the babysitter and hold other people’s hair over the toilet!

Oriana Murphy is an addiction specialist at Sober College, a treatment center that specializes in working with young adults exclusively.

Wyndham Alltra

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