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Cocktails before Ceremony: do or don't?

Posted by Meg Maher on Jan 10, 2017 3:25:00 PM
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Celebrations and cocktails go together like peanut butter and jelly...we ALL know that!  But I find myself questioning, lately, the level of respect we give important life events when alcohol is involved.

Don't get this Irish-American girl wrong, I enjoy my cocktails and can celebrate with the best of 'em...but when it comes to something important, something sacred...I can hold off on the booze until an appropriate time.  What I have seen in the past 20 years or so that I have been working in special events is a lessening of the respect given to what is actually happening at any given occasion.

Style Me Pretty noted that pre-ceremony drinks would be a trend for weddings in 2016.  "The traditional prelude prior to a ceremony has given way to the new 'pre-ceremony' cocktail. Couples want to welcome their guests and kick off the festivities before guests take their seats." - Lynn Easton of Easton Events 

"Ladies and Gentlemen, we are gathered here today to (fill in the blank here)."  

We gather to celebrate.

 We gather to witness.  

We gather to support the ones we love during an important rite of passage.

Be it a wedding, a christening, a graduation or a bar mitzvah...there is something very special happening that day, and you were lucky enough to be invited to share it.  I am ALL for being a proper host.  My mother taught me well:  "Take your guest's coat and offer them a beverage right away!"

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There is nothing wrong with keeping the beverages rated PG until the 'important stuff' is done.  With so many ceremonies and receptions happening at the same location these days, guests have a tendency to think the party starts when they arrive!  I like to explain the reason for having a bar not available is equating it to serving a bucket of beers in a church.  Just because the ceremony isn't in a church doesn't mean it isn't sacred.   A beautiful lemonade stand or flavored iced tea on a hot day is a wonderful way to welcome guests.  Having a galvenized bucket of icy bottled water is just as welcoming as a glass of wine, in my opinion.

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Don't feel guilt or pressure about keeping the bar closed until after you say "I Do".  There will be plenty of time for toasts and libations of all kinds.  Sometimes a sign or program letting your guests know when and where cocktail hour will be can be a nice hint.  

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It's more than just my humble old-fasioned opinion that counts here...by asking your guests to hold off on the cocktails you accomplish several things:

  • you save money on your bar bill!
  • you won't have bud light bottles and half empty glasses in your ceremony photos.
  • you have the opportunity to offer food with those first few libations, hopefully slowing the effects of the alcohol and therefore preventing the oh-so-embarrasing 'funky chicken' dance that can appear on the dance floor.

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I delight in telling couples who marry at Plymouth Country Club that a lemonade and water station prior to their ceremony is complimentary.  Not only does it make for a lovely gathering spot for guests, but it prevents dehydration and welcomes guests warmly to your very special day.  Keep it in mind...just another tip from someone who has seen it all!

Topics: Cocktails before ceremony

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