Platts: Bubblegum Punch
The ceremony was held lakeside. Not at just any lake, but Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota’s ninth largest and one of the most popular when it comes to boating, water skiing, swimming, partying and all other lake-related revelry. It rained the whole day, but cleared up just in time for the wedding party to walk down the green grass and flower petal outlined aisle. The bride and groom said their vows with the lake next to them and in the most ideal weather anyone could dream for on the best day of their life.
The entire affair was absolutely gorgeous. Then, it was time to celebrate. The reception was held at the Lafayette Club. This is a glamorous and historical lakeside country club known far and wide. The dinner and celebration was held in one of the club’s largest ballrooms complete with beautiful views and what appeared to be 19th century chandeliers.
After everyone was settled, the bridal party entered enthusiastically. The roughly 200 guests cheered as the reception began. It appeared as if everything went off without a hitch. Though one thing was very obviously missing. There wasn’t a drop of alcohol in sight.
Now, for those of you who have read my columns, you probably know that I’m a rather large proponent of alcohol related activities. I understand that drinking is not, nor should it be, for everyone. And there is a time and a place for it. But wasn’t a wedding reception, a celebratory occasion with family and friends, both the time and the place?
Apparently, weddings without alcoholic beverages are not entirely rare. They are called dry weddings. My boyfriend, who is a cousin of the bride, warned me that this was a possibility, however I was shocked to actually see it in action.
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In the alcohol’s stead, waiters served large wine glasses filled with a light pinkish punch concoction. Everyone, especially the adults, guzzled them down with pure ease and enjoyment. My table, which included my boyfriend’s brothers and their girlfriends, firmly declined because they were “too sugary” for our taste. Our logic made total sense at the time. The other drink options on the table were coffee, both regular and decaf, and water with a lemon. These are drinks that I enjoy thoroughly, but they didn’t seem right in the moment. Where was the red wine? Or the jovial sound of a champagne bottle popping off? Light beer wasn’t even an option. Hell, a white wine spritzer could have sufficed, but it was nowhere to be seen. I was thoroughly flabbergasted.
As we sat there, waiting for the first course to be served, I couldn’t help but focus on anything except the lack of booze around me. It wasn’t so much that I needed the alcohol. It was the fact that the hundreds of people surrounding me didn’t in the slightest. Glancing from table to table, it seemed as if most were quite content with a booze-less jamboree. If this were an event with my family, a mutiny would’ve commenced before the bread baskets reached the table. That was how I had grown up. Any proper celebration was always (and I mean, always) accessorized with wine, beer and/or mixed drinks. It was a custom, particularly at weddings, and it was one that I had grown more than accustomed to. It went together like bread and butter or a nice dress and jewelry – one without the other felt incomplete … wrong actually.
My tablemates didn’t seem nearly as stunned by the situation as me, however they were just as perturbed. Within 15 minutes of being at the reception, we each had a shot of whiskey mixed in snugly with our regular coffee. It reminded me of prom night in high school as we snuck a flask from person to person under the table.
As the dinner progressed and we were onto the cake, and our second or third whiskey-influenced beverage, I still hadn’t grown used to the situation. I found myself getting up a lot and pacing in an anxious way. Though that may have just been from the six cups of coffee I chugged in the span of an hour or so. I felt both frustrated by the lack of alcohol and frustrated with myself for caring so much about it. Why had I learned to rely so heavily on booze for social situations? Sure, it was odd that it wasn’t available, but that didn’t mean the world was going to come to an end … at least not right in that second. The couple and the family had simply chosen not to have that be a part of their special day, and I should’ve been able to leave it at that. Still, the social situation confused me most of the evening and stuck with me long enough to write it out for my column days later.
We said our goodbyes about half an hour after the dancing commenced. Many older people were heading out at that point as well. But the bridal party and many of the other young 20-somethings were dancing their hearts away, the rhythm consuming them much more than their sobriety. I smiled at them as we were putting on our coats. The scene was thoroughly impressive. Sure, it wasn’t what I had grown up around and I was certainly no closer to canceling the booze for my future wedding, whenever that may be. However, I respected these guys for being able to dance wildly without the help of inhibition-halting substances. Good on them.
We headed back to my boyfriend’s parents’ house, made a fire and spent the rest of the evening sipping whiskey and wine … as was intended, at least for us. We all felt much more at home, as I’m sure the bridal party did, dancing the night away, completely alcohol-free.
Barbara Platts thinks every person should celebrate their important landmarks in life just as they see fit. She plans to do so as well, with a full glass of red wine by her side. Reach her at email@example.com.
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This weekend we go local. After the bacchanalia that was the Food & Wine Classic last week, we turn to Snowmass for a kinder, gentler wine gathering as the 19th Snowmass Wine Festival gets underway.