The Lightweight’s Guide to Drinking at Summer Weddings

updated May 2, 2019
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Summer wedding season is here! It’s time to don your most festive duds, celebrate with friends and loved ones, and hopefully, come out on the other side without having made a drunken spectacle of yourself.

It’s far too easy to overdo it at the open bar without a game plan, so I’ve come up with a strategy that helps me avoid ending up under the table. Here are some ground rules for the bar, and five low-alcohol sips to see you through.

(Image credit: Anjali Prasertong)

5 Rules to Avoid Overdoing It at the Bar

If you’re a lightweight like me, things can get a little hazy after a reception cocktail, a glass of wine with dinner, and the inevitable litany of champagne toasts. So, first off, I have a few ground rules I keep in mind when hitting the bar.

  1. Don’t start drinking on an empty stomach.
  2. Avoid the hard alcohol.
  3. Stick to wine or beer (but not both).
  4. Toast with your full champagne glass, take the obligatory sips, then hand off your mostly full glass to a waiter before you’ve mindlessly finished it.
  5. Drink a full glass of water between each alcoholic drink.

5 Low-Alcohol Drinks to Enjoy at the Bar

With those tips in mind, get creative with what’s available at the wedding bar by using the carbonated beverages or wine selection as the base of your (not too boozy) drink.

The best drinks for this purpose are spritzers (wine with something fizzy) and shandies (beer with a mixer). Both are good staying refreshed and not too tipsy.

Here are a few of my own favorite low-alcohol combos to request from the bartender.

1. Dry White Wine & Club Soda: The classic spritzer. ‘Nuff said. Try it with Sprite or 7Up for a sweeter twist.

2. Red Wine & Cola: (a.k.a. Kalimotxo a.k.a. Cocavino) Don’t knock it ’til you try it, folks! This favorite of my college days still hits the spot once in a while, especially when paired with a tapas-themed reception menu.

3. I.P.A. & Limonata: The shandy gets a luxe makeover. I love how the bitter hops and lemony soda complement each other in this combo.

4. Belgian Ale & Ginger Ale: The less bitter, spicy character of Belgian Ale plays well with ginger ale. If you see Leffe Blonde at the bar, try it in this mixed drink!

5. Pilsner & Coca-Cola: Known as a Diesel in much of Europe. I prefer a European-style pils for this combo, since they tend to be a bit sweeter than Czech and German-style brews. Try it with an Amstel or Heineken.