Wedding Reception Q&As

Answers to your questions about toasting, timing, and traditional reception rites and rituals.

Q: I don't want to have hard liquor served at our reception, which begins at 5 p.m. and ends around 11. Can we limit the amount of time liquor is served from 5 to 8 p.m. only? (There will be beer and soft drinks available for the entire reception.) 

A: It's perfectly fine to serve alcohol within a given time frame at your wedding reception. In fact, you are not obligated to serve hard liquor at all—traditionally, the only requirements for a wedding reception are cake and champagne.

However, receptions today are usually much more elaborate and run the gamut from a light breakfast to a seven-course dinner. Other options include a midday brunch, an afternoon tea or an early-evening cocktail party. And even though guests do expect a certain amount of wine, champagne and liquor to be served with their meal it is completely up to your discretion as to how much is offered and for how long. A serving time from 5 to 8 pm is more than generous. In fact, it's not unusual for liquor to be offered during the cocktail hour only, especially in light of the dangers of drinking and driving. Just be sure to spread the word at your reception that liquor will be available for a limited time so your guests will not be caught off-guard.

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