The Wedding Guru Judy Lewis fields this week’s wedding questions. Today: To booze or not to booze?

Most weddings, being the extravagant parties they are, feature myriad libations to suit every taste. But in terms of cost efficiency, this begs the question: Must alcohol be served at all? Of course, there are options! You can serve beer and wine only, host an open bar [with or without limits], feature a cash bar, or keep the bottles corked altogether.

A Valley bride asks: “We can’t decide what to do about serving alcohol at our wedding. I know that getting a bit tipsy loosens up a crowd, but open bars are pretty expensive — and we’d rather spend that money to upgrade food or music. What to do?”

» Read Judy’s advice for a couple old enough to tie the knot, but still too young to drink

Dear bride: I asked Peter Kupersmith of F.E.A.S.T. Caterers at Round Hill if he felt that guests at an alcohol-free wedding seem to have it less fun. Without hesitation he said, “Yes!” Despite that, he has catered several (fun) weddings without alcohol, usually because the couples’ religious beliefs disallowed liquor.

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» On a budget? Save cash on your open bar with Judy’s Booze Budget tips

CNN recently conducted a survey on the topic, too. More than 37,000 people voted when asked, “Are you irked if there isn’t an open bar at a wedding reception?” Here are the results:

  • Beer and wine are fine, so long as they keep flowing freely: 38%
  • A full, open bar is a must, but I understand if that’s too pricey. A cash bar is fine: 23%
  • I get annoyed if there isn’t a full, open bar. No excuse for that: 15%
  • Dry weddings are just fine with me: 8%
  • I don’t mind paying for beer and wine: 8%
  • No booze, not me: 5%
  • A dry wedding is a pain, but I’ll deal: 3%

From the survey, it looks like alcoholic beverages are important to a majority of people.

Kupersmith related a funny story about a “dry” wedding that he catered; during the reception, “half the guests left, went to a local liquor store, and came back with booze.”

Because of concerns about guests driving under the influence, F.E.A.S.T. closes the bar an hour before the end of the wedding, and instead, serves just soft drinks and wine. Kupersmith explains that, “during the last hour, the people who are still drinking are often exactly those who shouldn’t be.” Though this policy — which Kupersmith explains to bridal couples in advance — has the potential to lose some business, he adds that most people understand and very much appreciate the policy.

As the host at your party, the decision ultimately lies with you. Be aware of your crowd and the traditions of your family — and of course, be mindful of your budget. Peter points out that the price savings at a non-alcoholic wedding varies, and he offers this alternative to prospective customers: “You might consider serving just wine and beer, plus a signature drink like a Mojito.” Keep in mind that nothing about your wedding should compel you to spend more than you can. Take those things into consideration and you’ll make the right choice!

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