In our boozy world, alcohol and celebration tend to go hand in hand.

So how do you stay sober at a wedding or party and still have fun with everyone else?

For many people, the idea of not drinking at these events feels so daunting, they decide to put their alcohol-free goals on hold. 

But there’s a big problem with that approach.

I know (from personal experience!) that months can slip by as you wait for all the weddings, BBQs and summer parties to come and go. There’s always something on the horizon.

I hope today’s blog inspires you to take action and stick with sobriety, no matter how busy your social calendar is!

 

How to stay sober at a wedding (and still have fun)

 

Go all in

This is really important: if you’re going to do this, you’ve got to give it 100%. Don’t ‘wait and see’ how you feel when you get there, or ‘try to be good’. All that’ll happen is that you’ll agonise over whether or not to drink, before eventually giving in. A ‘maybe’ is nearly always a yes. None of these other tips will help you, unless you make a firm decision that you’re not going to drink! 

 

Plan ahead 

The chances are that at some point during the wedding, you’ll be offered a glass of something alcoholic to toast the happy couple. By anticipating this now, you can plan how you’ll handle it. Personally, I like to keep things really simple. I’ll say something like, “I’d love a drink – what alcohol-free options do you have?”

I don’t apologise for requesting something different. There are many reasons why someone may choose not to drink, so you are entitled to be catered for. I nearly always find there is a tray of alcohol-free drinks nearby, you just can’t always spot it immediately. If you have to order a drink, be specific about what you want. If you’d like your drink to be served in a champagne flute, say so.

You might also want to consider what you’ll say to people if they ask why you’re not drinking. It’s actually none of their business, but it can be handy to have a response prepared. (I have some ideas here.) 

 

Understand that alcohol does not equal fun, joy or celebration

If you’ve ever been to a party where you’ve drunk loads, but you still haven’t felt happy, you’ll know that alcohol isn’t the secret to having a great time. Culturally, we’re so trained to associate booze with celebration, we tend to forget you can have one without the other.

We gloss over the fact that drunk people can cry and be upset, argue and even get into fights. Some drinkers fall asleep or withdraw and become spaced out and distant. There’s a very high chance they’ll miss the special, memorable moments of the day.

When you choose to stay sober at a wedding, you free up more space for happiness and joy. Last year one of my Getting Unstuck students discovered this for herself when she got married, alcohol-free. 

Emily said: “Being sober at your own wedding is AWESOME! I danced, I sang, I actually ate dinner. Best of all, I was 100% present for the entire night and remember every unforgettable moment. I even drove us back to the hotel. It wasn’t just the most meaningful weekend of my life, but also, truly, the most fun. I am so glad I got my shit together for this.” (You can see Emily’s lovely wedding pic here).

 

Welcome the highs and the lows 

In her TED talk, Brene Brown says “You cannot selectively numb emotion. When we numb [hard feelings], we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness.” We need the harder, challenging experiences in order to truly appreciate the good moments. We’re not supposed to numb our way through life – we’re meant to feel those ups and downs.

When you’re sober, you probably will be more aware of your own insecurities and awkwardness. But it’s worth it, because the highs are going to be higher.

It feels great when you catch yourself having fun and laughing hard, and you know it’s because you’re genuinely having a good time – your emotions are real and haven’t been chemically altered in any way.

Nothing beats being able to show up fully for the people you care about, to support them and remember all of their special day.

 

A few quick points: 

Remember what the day is really about. It’s not about you or what’s in your glass, it’s about celebrating a relationship.

So many things will affect your enjoyment of the day: who you know there, how you feel, the atmosphere, the music, your outfit… none of that has anything to do with what you’re drinking.

Keep your glass full. The easiest way to turn down an alcoholic drink is to already be clutching a full glass.

If you’re trying not to draw attention, fizzy water or tonic water with lemon is a good option.

Take breaks. Weddings can be long, all day events. Sneak off for a walk or some time to yourself whenever you need to.

Bad experiences can be good experiences. If you’re bored, that is actually useful information. Don’t you want to know what you do and don’t enjoy?

Celebrate yourself afterwards. Build in some time to rest, recover and decompress. You deserve it.

 

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