In our society, weddings have somehow shifted from being a celebration of a lifelong commitment between two people to the biggest party you’ll ever throw in your lifetime. As a result, wedding receptions can sometimes pose a great threat to someone’s sobriety. Open bars, cocktail hours and champagne toasts can all be potentially triggering.
While it may be an option to avoid going to some weddings, it’s unrealistic to believe you will never have to attend another wedding in your lifetime. And that’s okay! You wouldn’t want your sobriety to keep you from celebrating your people anyways. So, in order to confidently attend a wedding sober, here are some useful tips to keep in mind.
Attend the ceremony only
The ceremony is the most important part of any wedding. Being there to witness and celebrate the love of two important people in your life should be your priority. So, if you’re concerned about the environment of the reception or are too new to the sober lifestyle to willingly put your sobriety at risk, let the couple know you’ll only be attending the ceremony.
Bring a sober plus one
If you’ve been given the option of bringing a guest, consider bringing a friend or family member who also lives soberly. This provides accountability for you both and gives you a likeminded friend to talk to if you’re feeling triggered. Having someone with you to support your sobriety will help you feel seen and known, encouraged and less isolated.
Offer a helping hand
During a wedding reception, there are numerous things you can help with, especially if the wedding is being run by the families of the couple themselves. Perhaps it’s helping at the dessert table; maybe it’s monitoring the gift table. You might even offer assistance by making sure other guests stay hydrated or get rides from responsible friends.
No matter how you choose to help, it can keep your mind off temptations and keep you sober without really even thinking about it.
Remember why you’re there
Even though weddings tend to turn into one giant party, the real reason you’re there is to celebrate the marriage of your loved ones. If you begin to feel insecure about your outfit, how you look in pictures or if you’re going to be able to stand small talk without alcohol, remind yourself that those things don’t matter! What matters is the wedding and the celebration of love it represents.
So when you feel tempted, triggered or just anxious about the whole thing, remind yourself that that’s not why you’re here. And who knows, you might find yourself really enjoying the chance you have to be fully present and fully sober during the whole event.
Keep a nonalcoholic drink in your hand
There isn’t anything wrong with keeping a nonalcoholic beverage in your hand during the reception. And it doesn’t have to be just water – you can get creative by asking for a little cherry syrup mixed in with your sprite or some lime garnishes in your diet coke.
Holding a mocktail isn’t a cop out or a secretive way of looking like you’re still drinking. Sipping a mocktail can benefit you by giving you something to do with your hands, can prevent people from asking unwanted or awkward questions and can help you feel more comfortable overall.
Have a plan for when triggers are too much
If you do feel triggered at any point throughout the wedding, make sure you have an escape plan. Whether it’s driving yourself so that you can leave whenever you want to, or having a friend or family member on-call to pick you up, this small step in planning ahead can go a long way.
Know that setting-up an escape plan isn’t setting yourself up to fail, rather, it gives you the chance to make the best decisions for your sobriety when needed.
Crafting a plan with a professional
While you are entirely empowered to create your own sober wedding plan, it can be helpful to tap into the wisdom of a professional mental health counselor when you need some extra guidance, support or encouragement.
If you have a wedding season on the horizon and are planning on attending these weddings sober, consider reaching out to our trained therapists. They will offer you guidance and game plans to help you fully entertain into these celebration.