Compare Wedding Insurance Guide to Drunk Wedding Guests

Recently at Compare Wedding Insurance we had this question regarding excessive alcohol consumption at wedding receptions:

I plan to have a bar at my wedding reception. I have a friend bartending and he has given me a specific amount of alcohol for the number of adults I expect to be in attendance. Aside from having the DJ announce that a ride will be provided to those who may drink too much, what else can I do to legally cover myself in the event that something unspeakable would happen when a guest leaves who may have drunk too much??? Thanks.

We definately understand these concerns. Of course you want all of your guests to enjoy your wedding reception but you don't want them to overdo it and put themselves and others in danger by drinking and driving.

After some discussion, we came up with the following suggestions:

If a guest has been drinking excessively, you should see to it that he or she does not drive. Once they leave the venue, however, it is really their own responsibility. Drunk guests can cause damage or accidents, and this is where Wedding Liability Insurance comes in handy.

Here are our tips for what you can do:

  • If it is a friend bartending perhaps he or she could keep an eye out for heavy drinkers and point them out to one of your groomsmen, who could have a word with them towards the end of the reception and make sure that they are not intending on driving home.

  • If you are really concerned that this could potentially ruin your wedding day then ask one of your groomsmen to keep an eye out for those that are quite drunk. If you would prefer to nominate a non-drinker amongst your wedding guests to act as the "drunk person supervisor" then do this prior to the wedding so that you and your partner do not have to worry about it during your wedding reception. The person you nominate for this role could remind the guests that transportation is available at the end of the night.
    This is a great idea - nobody refuses a free ride home! They should also ensure that if a drunken guest seems keen to use this facility that they point them in the right direction at the end of the night towards the transportation – we all know that after a few drinks our sense of direction can be slightly skewed!

  • Having your DJ announce that there is transport available for any guests who are letting their hair down and having a few drinks is a great idea. Perhaps the DJ could repeat this information a couple of times throughout the evening in case some people are at the bar(!) and miss the announcement first time round!

  • Ensure that enough food is available at the evening buffet to help your inebriated guests soak up the alcohol! It’s a medical fact that eating snacks slows down the rate at which the body absorbs alcohol. High-protein foods like cheese and meats are particularly good as they stay in the stomach longer than other foods and thus leave your guests' stomachs lined for longer.
    If it is within your budget a few hours after the evening buffet you could arrange for some extra snacks to be served such as hot dogs, pizza, quiche or simple sandwiches.

  • Alcohol is absorbed by the body much faster when combined with a carbonated mixer such as diet coke, soda water or ginger ale. Perhaps limit the amount of spirits available if you are setting up your own bar. By encouraging your guests to stick to beer and wine they will be able to pace themselves with their alcohol consumption far better.

  • It goes without saying that you should make sure that you have a good selection of non-alcoholic beverages available and make sure that they are unlikely to run out. Soft drinks, coffee or a non-alcoholic punch are perfect for encouraging your thirsty wedding guests to stay hydrated without being forced to drink large quantities of alcohol.

  • Ask your DJ to announce when the bar will be closing as that would be an opportune time for him to remind guests that transport has been arranged for those that are unable to drive home!
  • If you have an extremely drunk guest who is insisting on driving home then the person you have nominated prior to the wedding to supervise out of control guests should step in and do the following:

    1. If your wedding reception is in a hotel or house with rooms available, suggest to the guest that they stay overnight.

    2. The nominated person should try to take the car keys off of the guest if they still insist on driving.

    3. Your guest may by this stage have drunk so much that their judgment is impaired and they might not listen to reason so the nominated person must take charge of the situation to prevent your guest from driving. If necessary the guest should be physically restrained from getting into the driving seat of a vehicle. It sounds drastic but they will thank you for it the next day!

    4. If none of the above tactics succeed then as a last resort you should call the police. This might shock you but the sight of a police officer will inevitably prompt some rationality from your guest. It is very unlikely your guest will be arrested so long as they do not persist with their insistence on driving whilst under the influence of alcohol. Don't feel guilty if it comes to this stage - you are only doing what you think is right to prevent your guest from driving.

Generally you would not be found to be legally responsible for your guests if they refuse all offers of a ride home and insist on driving after drinking alcohol. If there is an accident or damage at the venue, however, you may be liable for the damage caused by your guests - drunk or not! For more information please read our guide to Wedding Liability Insurance.

Whilst your nominated person might be patrolling your wedding at the end of the night to ensure that there are no drunken guests wielding car keys, there might well be drunken guests who leave unnoticed or who don't seem drunk and drive home. These people are adults after all and whilst their judgment may be distorted by the alcohol you cannot control their actions. So long as you've made every effort to prevent a drunken guest from driving then you will have done everything expected of you as a host.

Good luck with your wedding!


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