Is "Dry Wedding" an Oxymoron?


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Invitations and Expectations

When I RSVP “yes” to a wedding, I feel that I am entering into a social contract with the bride and groom. I will travel to the wedding locale, bearing a gift off the registry. I will smile tenderly while every groomsman, bridesmaid and long-winded uncle toasts to the happy couple.

I ask for nothing in return for my enthusiastic attendance. Except access to an open bar.

No Champagne for You

My Mormon friend Isabel recently married her salsa instructor in a beautiful ceremony in a rose garden; it was a mercifully brief ceremony, everybody said “I do,” and we were adjourned.

The bride is the poster child for those sexy people in the “I’m a Mormon” campaign. She salsa dances professionally and runs triathlons. She challenges my conception of Mormon women—informed largely by Chloë Sevigny’s character from Big Love—on a daily basis.

But she doesn’t drink, ever. Neither does anybody else in her extended family. And so I attended my first dry wedding. During the festivities, I observed several curious aberrations from most ‘moist’ weddings.

  1. We toasted to the bride and groom with sparkling cider. This pleased me, because champagne makes me sneeze.
  2. With the exception of the salsa dancing contingent in attendance, nobody danced. It turns out that sobriety is not conducive to boogying for the rhythmically disabled.
  3. At a dry wedding you don’t have to worry about inebriated receptiongoers driving home. I can’t help but feel a little surly that the same adults who warned me about drunk driving when I was a youth feel like it’s acceptable to jump behind the wheel after they’ve had “just six glasses!”
  4. Wet wedding conversation, for me, usually dissolves into a rotation of the following phrases:
  • “The flower girls are, like, so adorable!”
  • “I am going to be wed to myself on a small ceremony on a beach.”
  • “It won’t last”
  • “CAKE.”
  • “I want to marry the crap out of you, Reverend.”

This time around, I kept my cool. At my table we talked about the Olympics, we tackled my embarrassingly numerous misconceptions about the Church of Latter Day Saints, and I gathered a few factoids about El Salvador. Dry wedding conversation is informative and stimulating.

Another added bonus: I do not photograph well when I’ve been drinking; my nose inexplicably expands, my eye makeup bleeds down my face, and every piece of my wardrobe malfunctions simultaneously. Usually the weeks following any wedding are full of angst and pain as I wait for a barrage of unflattering photos to appear on Facebook. In the dry wedding photos, however, I look like a poised, sensible individual.

Never Again

There are undeniable perks to a dry wedding. But after considering feigning Mormonism at my own wedding to avoid footing the bill for an open bar, I looked deep into my soul and asked myself, “What kind of bride do you want to be?”

I want to be the bride who passes out in her own wedding cake.

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