A reader writes in:
"I live the Straight Edge lifestyle, which means no drinking, no drugs and no smoking. My family, specifically my 2 brothers, on the other hand, do. My fiancée says that there will be no drinking / booze at our reception. I'd be okay with that, but I know they wouldn't be."
The "Big Three" of Ask the Expert submissions: booze, groomsmen, and strippers. (Or some combination therein.) We get some variation of this question quite a bit, actually. Alcohol's tricky. For grooms and brides who don't drink, the wedding is a violent collision of lifestyles: your own sobriety vs. your guests' expected revelry. What to do?
First, remember that a little booze never hurt anyone. (Except for liver poisoning, drunk driving deaths, ill-advised hook-ups, depression, sloppy sex, emotional numbness, temporary impotence, poor performance at work, crushing hangovers, and decades of depression caused from the bottle. Other than all that shit, a little booze never hurt anyone.)
Okay, more seriously, follow these three guidelines:
1) It's your party.
Technically "your party" refers to your bride and your family--with you a distant third--but the point is the same. It's your show. If you decree that the day should be dry, then that's within your rights and by God, the day will be dry. A good guest will respect your lifestyle and your wishes. That said, there's a second issue that trumps this...
2) It's your party. So you're the host.
Part of being a host means doing crap that you don't really care about. Let's say you have guests over for the weekend. Even if you don't drink coffee, you'd probably have some packs of instant coffee for them in the morning, right? Even if you personally skip breakfast, you'd probably at least offer the bastards some cereal. It's just good etiquette.
A better example. Let's say you invite a bunch of friends to your home for a dinner party, but you're on a diet so the only thing you're eating is Slim-Fast. When your buddies get there you just toss them Vanilla and Chocolate bottles, cheerfully saying, "Eat up, Fellas!" Maybe Slim-Fast is great for you. You're losing weight, you look good, you've lowered your cholesterol level. Excellent stuff. But if you're throwing a dinner party, your guests are expecting solid food.
Don't have a wedding that serves the social-equivalent of Slim-Fast.
Except... You should also do the following:
3) Know your guests.
The trick is to know what your guests are expecting and not disappoint. If the bulk of your guests also live the Straight Edge lifestyle, then maybe you're okay with keeping the party dry. Back to the dinner metaphor, this would be the equivalent of all your dinner-guests also on a Slim-Fast diet, so they're comfortable with the meal.
From your note, though, it sounds like that's not the case. If your brothers, family, and other friends all drink...throw ‘em a bone and serve some alcohol.
(Note: There's one issue that transcends all of this, of course. If your fiancée has some hard-core reason why she doesn't want booze-something personal that you didn't tell us-well that's a whole other story. The above three points should guide your thinking, but they shouldn't guide you into a holy war against your bride. Ultimately she will win.)