“i do”…want to stay sober

When you think of weddings, you typically think of getting dressed up, champagne toasts, open bars, and getting low on the dance floor. Well, if you have a drinking problem, that’s definitely what you think of. The actual wedding ceremony just seems like a roadblock that gets in the way of your night of partying.

When I was drinking, you could definitely count on me to be the hottest mess at your wedding. Yeah, I was that girl. In September of 2021, I was in the midst of a relapse when I attended my coworker’s wedding. I got completely blacked out at the reception, danced by myself on stage, spilled my husband’s drink everywhere, and stumbled into an Uber before the clock hit 9:00 PM. It was embarrassing to say the least. If you saw the scene that I created 8 months ago, you would never believe that I was a sober bride just 2 months later.

I didn’t have a lot of mental preparation going into my wedding sober. It was more of a last minute decision that I knew I had to commit to all the way. In the year leading up to my wedding, whether or not I was going to drink seemed like a gamble. Let’s just say that 2021 was rough. I entered the year sober, relapsed in the beginning of Summer, and spent much of Fall living in limbo. But as my wedding was fast approaching, I had a gut feeling that I would regret drinking much more than I would regret being sober.

Being a sober bride is no easy feat, especially if you’re in early sobriety. I certainly wasn’t the “blast in a glass” that people were used to partying with, but I can say that I was genuinely present for every moment. I’m very proud of myself and thankful for that. After reflecting on my experience, I’ve compiled some helpful tips that will improve your chances of sober survival:

  1. Get everybody on board. Telling your close friends and family beforehand that you won’t be drinking during the wedding festivities is crucial. This not only holds you accountable, but it gets everybody on the same page so you’re not being offered mimosas in the bridal suite. It’s easier to follow through when you have support and people checking in on you. I even told my wedding coordinator and the person in charge of the venue.
  2. Be kind to yourself. Weddings are stressful in general, whether or not the bride is drinking to “take the edge off.” It’s a very high-pressure situation. Everyone is looking at you, you want everything to be perfect, and you’ve been waiting for this day your whole life. If you’re facing this day head-on without any liquid courage, you’re doing something incredibly difficult and brave. Give yourself some grace if you’re feeling anxious. That’s to be expected.
  3. Tailor your expectations. I used to be the “life of the party” as a drinker…if that’s what you want to call it. I was the loudest, craziest, most obnoxious person in the room. I would talk everybody’s ear off and dance like nobody’s watching. Sober Lauren is a COMPLETELY different person. I’m introverted and feel awkward about being the center of attention. I felt like I was on the dance floor for a total of 5 minutes. My favorite part of the reception was eating! And that’s okay. Don’t put extra pressure on yourself to act a certain way or be somebody you’re not.
  4. Remember why you’re getting married. This might come off as a shock, but you’re not getting married because you need a reason to party all night or impress people. (If you are, then that’s a whole different story!) You’re getting married because you want to be committed to the love of your life. The most important thing about the day is saying “I do” to the person you want to grow old with. The rest is just icing on the cake.
  5. Be all in. You need to convince yourself with every fiber of your being that not drinking on your wedding day is the best decision for you. Indecision is the silent killer. If you’re not sure and still have a feeling in the back of your mind that you might have “one or two”, chances are that it’s not going to end well. Once I knew in my heart and soul that I was going to stay sober on my big day, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. The fear that my drunkenness and stupidity could potentially ruin the entire event was gone. Even though I was scared, I had this weird feeling that everything was going to be okay. And it was.

My wedding day was a complete whirlwind of emotions. I didn’t sleep a wink the night before and it thunder-stormed the entire day and night, so the beach wedding of my dreams ended up being an indoor wedding. The wind was so terrible that you could barely stand on your own two feet. On top of the weather being an absolute worst-case scenario, there were a variety of mishaps when it came to decor and attire. Needless to say, I had every reason in the world to pick up a drink and say “fuck it.” But I didn’t. I pushed through and carried on.

Truthfully, the best part of the whole day was the ceremony and saying our vows. I also loved listening to people’s speeches and seeing everybody have a good time. When we walked up to our hotel room after, I bawled tears of joy. Literally BAWLED. I spent the entire year incessantly worrying about this day, and it was finally over. I was married to my favorite person in the world and I remembered every single moment.

If you’re terrified about being sober at your wedding, trust me, I feel you. But I still encourage you to do it. I felt like I got stronger from the experience and I’m more confident now about what I can handle. Looking back, it’s tempting to think about all the things that went wrong and the “what ifs”, but it was truly a beautiful wedding because I got married. My family was happy, my husband was happy, my guests seemed to have a great time, and now it’s over. I can proudly say that I didn’t black out, trip down the aisle, look sweaty and gross in all of my pictures, or have to call it a night early. I was a well-behaved and classy bride, so I can’t ask for more than that.

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