Dealing with smoking and drinking
While not everyone relishes the idea of a wedding ceremony, more often than not people enjoy the idea of going to a wedding reception because it’s just another reason to party. Of course, copious amounts of alcohol and a demographic of smokers is practically synonymous with partying. So a wedding reception naturally runs the risk of drunken behaviour and enough smoke to make people wonder where the fire is.
We all have that uncle that might have a few too many and ends up trying to dance on a chair. And avoiding smokers is a little like avoiding sloppy kisses from your old Aunt Martha who insists on pointing out just how tall you’ve become.
The problem with weddings is that outlying relations who’ve been invited might not be too invested in the crux of the wedding. This is a celebration of love, but you have to accept that some people are potentially there for free food and booze.
If you’re anything like most couples I know, that idea probably doesn’t sit too well with you. Distant relations getting boozy and working their way through a packet of smokes can affect the atmosphere of a party. But how do you stop it?
Set the ground rules
How you approach smoking and drinking at your wedding depends largely on how you perceive both the activity and the people doing it. Your Uncle Fred might be a delightful drunk. He’s the guy that will get people up on the dance floor to show off his embarrassing “daddy-dance”. And you think that’s awesome. (Or you might be a smoker yourself, and that’s fair enough. Just carry something with you to hide the smell.)
Then again, your Uncle Harry is a proactive pervert after he’s gulped down a couple of JD and Cokes, and you fear for your little cousin’s innocence.
Ultimately, it’s your party. You set the rules. Smoking has become quite easy to handle, especially in the UK where it’s no longer allowed indoors. You can make a brief announcement as the party is starting about where the designated smoking area is and gently remind anyone that seems to forget. Or you can let them wander outside the venue and congregate as they would at any party. Just be conscious of the sort of image that this might give arriving guests. Making sure they have an area that’s under cover in case of bad weather is a good way of making sure you contain the “problem.”
Drinking is a little tougher to enforce. If you’re offering your guests free drinks you could set a limit to the amount of free drinks that people are allowed, but that doesn’t guarantee they will stop drinking.
Thinking outside the bottle
Rather than directly restricting the amount of alcohol that your guests are allowed, control it indirectly by only having the bar open at certain times. Alternatively, a wedding held later in the day means less time for drinking post-meal and cuts down on the risk of drunkenness.
A cash-bar is another alternative method. Offer guests one free drink and allow them to buy their own drinks after that with cash. This can be frustrating for guests that aren’t carrying money on them of course, but allowing card to be taken means that they can pay for a lot more drink.
Despite your best efforts
As with every aspect of a wedding, it can be hard to control everything. There will be someone with cash who will buy a lot of drinks or someone that will drink quickly and get themselves drunk. Despite all your efforts to curb a binge-drinking session, there could very possibly be someone who breaks through and has a couple too many.
Designating a watcher (typically the Best Man) is an excellent way to make sure a drunken guest doesn’t spoil things by rugby-tackling the first dance or head-butting the wedding cake. It’s also important that such a watcher would prevent a drunken guest from driving home. Make sure there’s a way for a drunken guest to get home: an accident or an arrest on your wedding day could potentially mar your memories.
People will drink. They will smoke. And they’ll most likely get up to other salacious activities that might not be to your liking. Ultimately, you can’t control a party but you can guide it in the right direction.
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