Each Wednesday, we tackle wedding etiquette. At times, it’s a reader question or one from a colleague, friend or family member and other times we’ll cover a popular issue. (Note: Questions may be edited for clarity and brevity.)


Question: My fiancé and I are planning to marry in the spring of 2018. We are an older couple and this is a second marriage for both of us. No gifts are required and we are planning an outdoor wedding at a friend’s home. My fiancé is a recovering alcoholic and has no problem with others drinking including myself but will not pay for alcohol. Since we are having a backyard wedding is it in poor taste to encourage BYOB and offer non-alcoholic drinks? I want to respect his decision, but I’m not sure on how to address this with the guests.

Answer: Congratulations on this new chapter. It’s obviously a very personal choice whether or not to have a dry or wet celebration. There are some things to consider when BYOB is the order of the day. First, when hosting at an event space, the management or your catering company generally handles and serves the alcohol and those entities are typically insured (or they should be), so you don’t have to take out insurance. (Though additional insurance isn’t a bad idea.) When asking your guests to bring alcohol, it’s very important to check on the state and city rules and regulations, especially if you are planning to have the catering staff serve it and they may require proof of insurance if they are pouring. Since you are having it at a private home, the liability falls upon the shoulders of the homeowners and if there is a catering staff, the same rules apply. Another thing to consider is how the alcohol will be contained. Will you have coolers around the party space? This may not be the visual you are going for when it comes to your decorative theme for the wedding and reception. It’s worth also mentioning that adding BYOB to the invitation or other written materials can of course give the impression that you are being cheap with your guests, when obviously that isn’t the reasoning behind the decision. The conventional rules of etiquette on the subject are to either go with one or the other, rather than BYOB. The reasoning is that when inviting people to a hosted event, it’s the responsibility of the host or hosts to provide everything for the comfort of their guests, including beverages, whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic and if the former, to always also have the latter for those who don’t want to or can’t imbibe. Hosting the event in a private home of course brings with it a slightly more casual vibe, so if you ultimately decide to go with BYOB, take the proper precautions in terms of the law and insurance and consider a word of mouth campaign through your friends and family, in lieu of including that information on the printed materials.


Do you have a solution to share or a wedding etiquette question? Respond in the comments or email Melanie@MyNewOrleans.com.