If you’re abstaining from alcohol for one reason or another, weddings can be a slightly daunting affair – no one wants to be stuck with a tap water in their hand while everyone cheers with elegant champagne glasses. Today we’re chatting to Laura, Co-Founder of the Mindful Drinking Festival, about what we can do to improve the way we cater for non-drinking wedding guests.
Alcohol can play a pretty big part in a wedding, can’t it?
Yes. Traditionally in the UK, weddings are pretty boozy occasions. There are many moments in the day when alcohol is expected, and they seem to be growing in number, from the Buck’s Fizz for breakfast to the speech-giving toasts. By the end of the day the free bar may have been maxed out and things can get a bit messy.
Do you think we tend to forget about non-drinking wedding guests?
We can do. One in five of your guests are likely to be trying to take it easy on the booze. It is easy to forget that you will have some guests who are not drinking, or trying not to drink much. They may be driving, have caring responsibilities, or just not feeling like drinking.
Are we making people feel left out by not catering to them?
Well, members of Club Soda, the mindful drinking movement, often share the need to sneak in alcohol-free drinks for themselves to big weddings and events, because they can’t quite manage on sweet sticky lemonade for the whole day, and water gets a bit boring after a while. Our members who are brides and grooms-to-be are anxious about not getting too smashed on their big day, and want drinks that look the part to intermingle or totally replace the alcohol they are expected to drink. After all, they want to enjoy the day as much as they can, and keep all those lovely memories.
So both for yourself, and for all your guests, it’s good to make sure that there are enough nice non-alcoholic drinks options throughout the day.
What are your top tips for making sure everyone feels loved at your party?
Plan your non-alcoholic drinks. First of all, do a bit of planning (always the place to start!). At what times and at what occasions will there be alcohol served? Welcome drinks, champagne toasts, wine with the meal, and so on? Are there non-alcoholic options for each of those? And are they drinks that people actually enjoy? Imagine how a sober person will feel, holding a tumbler of orange juice, when everyone else is making a toast with an elegant champagne flute in their hands…
If you already know your non-alcoholic drinks, great! You should have no trouble putting together an excellent drinks menu for your party. If you’re not so sure, take some time to do a bit of research: Club Soda does regular reviews and tastings of non-alcoholic drinks. And if you are in London you can even come to the Mindful Drinking Festival in August to sample all the best options out there. Tesco is the best supermarket at the moment for their non-alcoholic drinks range, and great for ideas.
What are the options? If you are looking for alternatives to champagne, then consider Eisberg alcohol-free sparkling wine or Botonique. Both look the part in a champagne glass. You can find other options in the online Alcohol-Free Shop.
Heineken® 0.0 tastes just like the real thing, and no one will know if your guests have switched in order to pace themselves. For your craft beer lovers, Big Drop Brew has some highly acclaimed beers that will look very sexy on your wedding bar.
Craft sodas work for all ages, and Fentimans pink grapefruit or botanicals tonic work as a mixer for the gin lovers, but also taste great on their own. Their wild elderflower bubbly will also work for toasts or as a nice pick-me-up on a hot and busy afternoon.
Make sure the caterers know this is important. It’s good to talk to your caterers (if you use one) early on. Unless you ask, they will most likely just offer you their standard package. Which may not be great. We have spoken to a few of them, and they are always happy to talk about more exciting options. And if they are as good as they say they are, they can get you almost any drinks you want.
And if for some reason you really struggle to provide the non-alcoholic drink you’d like, there is always one last resort. Most non-drinking people already know what they like, and where to get it. So you can ask the venue if it’s ok for your guests to bring their own bottles, with a corkage fee if necessary. That way, all your guests will come to your special day safe in the knowledge that they will have something nice to drink, and you will have one less thing to worry about.
Thanks so much Laura. When’s the mindful drinking festival on?
The Club Soda Mindful Drinking Festival is on 13th August, from midday to 6pm, at Bermondsey Square, London SE1 3UN. Entry is free, but you can RSVP online at mindfuldrinkingfestival.com.