The Bar Code: Drinking Tips for Wedding Season

Let’s make one thing clear: Getting drunk at a wedding is easy. If you want to be the sloppy guest who causes a scene and is wracked by guilt (and a hangover) the next day, you don’t need any guidance from me. However, being able to find that magical middle ground where you’re both willing to dance and capable of remaining upright can be a bit trickier—so as we approach the heart of wedding season, I thought I’d offer some advice.

Don’t get ahead of yourself. Sure, there’s the temptation to hit the bar right away, but remember that you often have a ceremony, a cocktail hour, dinner, speeches, and who knows what else to get through before you hit the dance floor. Plus, you’re probably drinking on an empty stomach, which will compound the alcohol’s effect. Treat your buzz like Spielberg treated the shark in Jaws: don’t give it all away too early.

• To that end, be very careful with hard alcohol. Slamming shots before dinner might make your tablemates more interesting, but that open bar is like the island of the sirens in the Odyssey: alluring, but if you can’t restrain yourself, you’re likely to end up shipwrecked and dead.

Be wary of what you don’t normally drink. Maybe you’re not a wine drinker, but when the server comes around with glasses of red, you feel obligated to have one with your meal. That’s fine, but it’s always been my experience that besides just mixing different alcohols, it’s the unfamiliar ones that get you, whether wine or a spirit or even beer. Speaking of which . . . 

Don’t drink much beer. A few heavier brews will conspire with what will likely be a large meal to put you to sleep before the DJ even gets around to playing “Single Ladies.”

Drink a lot of water. We all know that adequate hydration is crucial to avoiding that crippling hangover the next day, but that can be extremely difficult to remember in the midst of the Electric Slide. My personal approach is to force myself to drink two glasses of water for every drink I have at the beginning of the wedding, when I’m presumably more capable of long-range planning and foresight.

• Again, in the interests of avoiding that hangover, try to stay away from sweet drinks and mixers. All that sugar will haunt you the next morning, just like the drunken texts you sent your ex . . . um, not that I speak from experience or anything.

Weddings should be celebratory, fun, and memorable. With a bit of foresight and self-control, you can both enjoy yourself and not cause a scene. Now that’s something we can all toast!

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