The number of people who asked me about booze and getting married, whether it was the curious question, “you’re still not drinking? that’s awesome! but what about on your wedding??” or the more accusational version, “you’re seriously not going to drink at your wedding?” was probably fifty or more.
I do get it, we live in a society that generally believes alcohol is mandatory to any kind of celebration. At a babyshower to welcome a newborn and possibly new parents, at weddings to celebrate marriage, and even at funerals when we memorialize a lost loved-one. It has become second nature that at social gatherings, alcohol is what people drink. I myself bought into all of that bullshit for well over a decade. Now that I’ve moved away from booze and the fake shit it claims to provide, and I have some time and experience as a non-drinker, I like to shed some light on the big picture of alcohol consumption just in case someone reading feels the way that I used to feel, which was trapped. It’s also a form of accountablility for myself. These non-drinking posts are not to preach or to convince you that you need to quit alcohol. Please take what you read and use it in any way that you can, or not at all!
Last summer, as my own wedding day was approaching and the questions about booze on the “big day” (I hate when people call it that) came up more and more frequently, it got me thinking about the specifics of what I’ve learned from Kate & Belle about why we think alcohol is required, and also why it shouldn’t be! Here are some of the main points that kept coming to mind and that helped me realize I definitely wasn’t drinking just because I was having a wedding and getting married to the coolest dude I’ve ever met.
- Alcohol is not why an event is fun, actually.
Try to think back to one of the most fun times you’ve ever had. For me, my oldest friend’s 30th birthday comes to mind. I believe everyone was drinking, yes, but when I break down all the reasons why this particular experience is way up there with the most fun times I can remember, the reasons are as follows:
- about thirty of our most fun and hilarious friends were there, most of whom we grew up with and have very meaningful relationships with
- we were at a really fun place
- we were doing fun things like being weird af, singing, having a big fire, playing games and being competetive, doing gymnastics, taking great photos, listening to good music, naked stand-up-paddleboarding, and freeing the nipple
- we had an amazing dinner
- we laughed to the point of pain all throughout the day, evening and next day
- we were all together because we wanted to celebrate our friend’s special day with her
Notice how wine, beer, vodka, whiskey or Hey Y’alls are NOT on the list! I planned to have a wicked time at our wedding because of all these types of reasons, minus the naked paddleboarding and freeing the nipple. LOL.
2. Alcohol shouldn’t be necessary to “tolerate” any situation
Some of the reasons we’re lead to believe that alcohol is helpful or necessary include: to relax or de-stress, to numb-out at an event we didn’t actually want to go to, to talk to strangers or people we don’t know or like, to have fun.
The last time I checked, spending time in situations that make me feel stressed, bored, uncomfortable or like I’m wasting my time are exactly that – a waste of effing time. Why put ourselves in these situations in the first place?
I hate baby showers. I think they are sexist, silly and always in the middle of the afternoon on a weekend. I don’t go, get day-drunk, eat too many triangle sandwiches with no crust, pretend to care about stuff that doesn’t interest me and then feel pissed off afterwards because I wasted a day off inside. I just don’t go. If I did risk going and ended up having a good time, it would be because of a good crew, great non-baby-related conversations, and lots of cheese, NOT because I pounded back a bunch of drinks (just like in the birthday party example from point number 1.)
Reverse kind of example
I love my friends, that’s why I’m friends with them. When we go out for dinner, I don’t “need a drink” because I am not in a situation that is boring, awkward or stressful. If I found myself out for dinner and thinking, “Damn I really need some alcohol for this boring/awkward/stressful situation,” I would need to question the who, what, where, when and why of the intimate dinner gathering I chose to attend. Especially the who.
If you feel like you need alcohol to put up with a family member, survive a work function, attend a wedding you aren’t sure why you got invited to, or to sing karaoke, maybe these activities just aren’t actually for you. That’s what I’ve learned, anyway.
At our wedding, we were surrounded with our favourite people in a great situation. Of course we were nervous, but isn’t that a good thing?? I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to be nervous at your wedding, it’s a form of excitement! If I needed booze at our wedding, what that would mean to me was that we planned a boring, shitty wedding or that I was marrying someone like Hannibal Lecter.
3. Alcohol-induced memory loss can happen regardless if the night is bad or good
Alcohol doesn’t have the power to differentiate. It doesn’t know the difference between drinking to try to reduce stress or forget about a problem, and drinking to celebrate something positive. Imagine waking up in the morning from what was supposed to have been one of the more special occasions in life, and not remembering some of it! Some people start to have little intermittent blackouts WAY before things like crawling on the ground and barfing start to happen. Looking back, I can’t believe how many fun nights I’ve had (or nights I am pretty sure were really fun..) where I can’t actually remember everything that went down. Booze steals memories and experiences and I am really over letting that happen. I especially wasn’t interested in having blurry parts during the day I got to marry my favourite person.
4. Being sober = being present
Can you recall being at a party chatting with some acquaintance but not really actively listening to what they’re saying because you’re trying to see/hear what’s happening over in the kitchen. Or maybe you’re buzzed and just making meaningless small talk. Or maybe you’re taking drunk pics on Snapchat and not paying attention to what’s happening around you. I am fully aware that all of these things can and do happen to sober people, but it’s far more likely to be disconnected from the present moment when you’re guzzling liquor. With respect to wedding day, I didn’t want a super fun day that took quite a bit of planning and a fair amount of money to flash by and be over without experiencing each part of it fully.
Everything above applies to life, not just special occasions. I had eight months as a non-drinker under my belt by the time our wedding rolled around, but I still had to stop and think hard about why I wanted to stick with the non-drinking project. Reviewing these reasons allowed me to confidently say, “No.” when I was asked if I was planning to cave in and drink that day. Thinking about it now, I can’t even imagine drinking that day! I was exhausted, and not because I ran 30km that morning, but because it was an emotional day with a LOT going on. The next day I was able to go for brunch with a crew of my guests who came from out of town and I didn’t have the shakes, a pale face, blood shot eyes, nausea, anxiety or extremely low blood sugar. I got to enjoy a coffee without feeling like I was burning a hole in my stomach and eat my meal and actually enjoy it, and finish it. And I don’t look progressively worse in each wedding photo either hahahaha
If you have an event or occasion coming up that you know is going to be challenging, contact me and hopefully I can give you a few specific tips depending on what you have planned! Drinking doesn’t necessarily = fun and sober definitely does not = lame. Trust me.
Bye for nowww