Open thread: Is it disrespectful to sneak alcohol into a dry wedding?

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Is it ok to sneak booze into a dry wedding?

Recently I went to a cousin's wedding. She used to party but has recently stopped drinking, and her wedding was dry — punch and water were the only beverages served. I respect her decision to throw the reception she wanted, however, my brother and I wanted to drink something with a little burn. Is it terrible to leave a wedding in a park, go to the liquor store nearby, and sneak back in with our well-hidden brown bag? Nobody noticed we were drinking anything other than the Sunday school punch they were serving. Was that tacky and disrespectful for my brother and I to do?

The short answer is yes, it is disrespectful to sneak alcohol into dry wedding. The longer answer is still yes — but maybe not for the reasons you think.

It's up to you to decide whether you want to respect the wishes of the host of an event you're attending, even if you don't agree with them and could get away with breaking the rules.

Of course you can sneak booze into a dry wedding. Personally, I think most events are better with a flask. As long as you're discreet and don't get obviously inebriated, of course you can get away with it. As long as no one knows, no one's really hurt by your actions.

… But does it feel good?

To me, this question is bigger than alcohol. (Which is a pretty big issue, when you toss in religion and addiction.) Let's say we're talking about a vegan wedding… are you going to sneak some cold-cuts in your purse? Assuming no one smells you, you could probably get away with it (but ew?). Let's say I'm planning an unplugged wedding, and you take a picture with your cell phone without me knowing… that doesn't hurt me. I don't know, I don't care, and meh, whatever!

But do you feel right with yourself for having done that? Ultimately it doesn't matter what the couple or even the internet thinks… how do you feel about YOURSELF?

Based on the fact that you're writing to a wedding blog asking for absolution, my guess is you don't feel great about the decision. While of course it's nice to respect other people's wishes because it's, well, respectful… you're the one who gets to sit with the feelings afterward.

Did it hurt the bride that you brought booze? If you were discreet, probably not. Does it matter if the internet thinks you're “tacky?” Meh, probably not.

… But does it feel good TO YOU to wonder if you were disrespectful? Nope, that feeling sucks. Doubt and regret will follow you around like a farting dog, nipping at your heels and making embarrassing noises and smelling like cold-cuts in your purse at a vegan wedding.

Living your life with integrity is something you do not because it's “tacky” not to or because you might get caught. (I'm here to tell you that the internet thinks everything is tacky.) Living your life with integrity is something you do because you're the one who has to live with the feels when you don't.

I don't know about you, but feeling disappointed in myself is way worse than spending a wedding sober.

Then again, I'm the one who traveled across the country cohosting alternative wedding expos with a flask in hand at all times, so I'm clearly pro-flask. I'm just even more for feeling good about your decisions.

Lovesick Brooklyn 2015

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Comments on Open thread: Is it disrespectful to sneak alcohol into a dry wedding?

  1. We chose to have a dry wedding reception so I wouldn’t have to see my dad drunk and manic. He has a long history of doing terrible things when drinking, and I had hoped to avoid some of that behavior at my wedding. Unfortunately, he and a few of our out of town guests decided to leave the reception and bring drinks back. It made me feel pretty shitty to know my guests, and especially my dad, couldn’t find a way to enjoy and celebrate the day with us without getting trashed. My husband and I chose to abstain from drinks ourselves- something we both enjoy- to prevent this from happening. It sucks to know that choice was made in vain.

    • I wouldn’t say it was in vain. You have the comfort of knowing you didn’t facilitate his drinking. In fact, I would say you went out of your way to help him. You can feel good about that! But ultimately you can’t control what he does — only how you react.

        • My Mom got fall down drunk at our wedding; this after asking, pleading, begging, threatening, etc. her to please slow her roll and not make a fool of herself and respect me enough not to drink to the point of being plastered. She did it anyways and fell down the bus stairs, rolled around on the ground with her dress above her head, etc. An alcoholic is an alcoholic… nothing will change them. I admire you for taking it to the level of having a dry wedding. But, I truly believe that had I done that, my Mom would have done the same thing as your Dad did. Just know you are not alone in your disappointment and hurt. ((hugs))

  2. Sorry, sweetie, but if you have to ask if it’s disrespectful, then it probably is. There are a bajillion reasons why a couple may choose their dry venue or to have a dry wedding, and none of them are so you’re “gonna have a bad time” (said in South Park ski instructor voice). Our venue is a junior college campus that doesn’t allow alcohol or smoking, so my wedding is ipso facto a dry wedding even though my fiance and I hardly teetotalers. The sentimental value of my venue (it’s where my parents met and got married AND where my fiance and I met) wayyyy overshadowed the need to have alcohol at the wedding, and most people understand this. My fiance and I are socially anxious people who sometimes drink to loosen up at parties–we understand why people like alcohol at social gatherings, believe you me!–but it hurts our feelings when we tell someone that our wedding will be dry* and they say it won’t be fun/they won’t come, even in jest, because it implies that their relationship to alcohol is stronger than their relationship to us. THAT’S why it’s disrespectful.

    *Typical dry-wedding policy seems to be “don’t ask, don’t tell” and no one will miss the alcohol, but when my parents got married at this venue, the venue’s alcohol/smoking policy was different, so we tell people who went to their wedding so they don’t get kicked out for smoking in the woods/taking swigs from a flask and claim that no one warned them.

  3. There’s tacky and there is rude. Sneaking things in is the latter.

    Also, if the bride/groom has very specific reasons for wanting a dry wedding, especially if they once had a problem but is now trying to fly straight, you’re being sort of a jerk. Unless you’re just drinking vodka, someone is going to smell it. I could kinda see if they were just saving money by not having alcohol, but if they are actively trying to not drink you’re being disrespectful. That’s not ‘offbeat’, it’s just plain rude.

    • Why on earth do people believe that vodka doesn’t smell? Its alcohol, just like any other alcohol, and yes, if you drink vodka, people smell it, just the same as they smell rye or rum. And yes, sneaking alcohol of any kind into a dry wedding reception is rude, tacky and just plain wrong.

  4. It’s a couple hours of your life — is it so crucial to have booze at every social event that you MUST sneak it in? I’m a fan of social drinking, & there are places where I might sneak booze in, but usually to avoid paying exorbitant prices for someone else’s booze or to have my specific choice of booze instead of the booze being served, not bec. someone specifically asked me not to drink.

  5. I have been on both sides of this question. My old roommates and I created intricate duct tape flask garters to smuggle rum into a friends dry wedding. I once snuck out of my sisters wedding reception to enjoy some trunk wine with my aunts.

    Fast forward several years later and my husband has just graduated from an intensive recovery program. I can imagine that if we were getting married now that we’d have a dry wedding so that we could get married in the safest supportive environment possible. And for us, right now in our lives, that is a sober.

    I used to think, and declare loudly, that people who had dry weddings hated fun. How clearly I was wrong. I still like a good cold beer, flask of rum, or glass of trunk wine, but I learned that respecting people’s safe places is more important. Also, fun is fun, regardless of whether it is boozy fun or sober fun.

  6. One thing to bear in mind with sneaking your own booze into anywhere, regardless of disrespecting your hosts wishes, you may be jeopardising that venue. People try to bring in their own drinks to the place I work even though it has an alcohol license. If you’re caught doing this and the council/authorities see the venue as being complicit in this or view the venue to be breaching the terms of their license, you may be putting the venue at risk.

    Not a problem for you, but could be a problem for anyone else using the venue after you if all of a sudden they can no longer serve alcohol or have their terms of service severely restricted, or indeed it gets shut down as it has been known to happen round here.

    Its a little selfish to only think of your own buzz

    • Or the entire wedding reception could be ended and everybody kicked out..right the middle of the party.

      Because of you…

    • THIS. My husband and I got married and hosted our reception at a very special location (a summer camp in the mountains overlooking a lake … ahhhh…) There was sunshine, delicious food, coffee, cake, punch, but because of liability insurance costs, they do not allow alcohol on the premises. If one of my guests had smuggled in a flask and there had been any sort of incident the venue AND my new family would be in serious financial and legal trouble. Don’t be THAT DUMMY.

  7. There is a much bigger reason for not sneaking alcohol into a reception. Most venues (and the law) requires all alcoholic beverages be served by a certified Bartender. If the inspector happens to stop in and find alcohol of any kind at an event without bartenders, the facility can be fined and banned from serving alcohol at future events. In addition, parking lots fall into open container laws. So your sneaking sip or two can have legal ramifications of which you have no idea. Respect the hosts and enjoy the party they provide. Go out to a bar afterwards.

    • I was thinking the same thing. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wedding reception where someone didn’t ‘sneak’ in some kind of alcohol. If you are being discreet I wouldn’t care if it happened at my wedding (same with sneaking in cold cuts if that’s what you really want to do).
      But also, the LW mentioned a ‘park’. I know that a lot of public parks in my state have very weird rules about alcohol. In my city it’s technically illegal to walk around on public property with an open container. Just keep that sort of thing in mind if you are going to partake.

    • This! My wedding is in a dry city, so it’s actually illegal for us to have a bar at our wedding. As I mentioned in another comment, my venue is a dry college campus (students there are college freshmen and sophomores, so it’s presumed they’re under the American legal drinking age of 21), so sneaking in a flask is considered to be facilitating underage drinking, even if you’re 21 or over, even if “college students drink anyway,” even if blah blah blah excuses. Someone getting arrested at my wedding would DEFINITELY bring out the bridezilla in me!

    • Ha! We pretty much wrote the same thing.

      Bartenders have a duty of care not to serve anyone who is intoxicated (in the UK at least, and they are individually responsible for this, not the establishment they work for). If you’re helping yourself, who is keeping an eye on your intake and wellbeing? What if you’re taken ill and nobody has figured out you’ve been drinking? There’s potentially a lot more consequences beyond being tacky

      • Here in the states the venue and the bartender will be responsible. And here is the worst of it. If someone is drinking at your wedding and later involved in an automobile accident they caused, the injured party can sue you because the drinking happened at your event. Sucks, but that is our legal system.

  8. I went to a dry wedding that was pretty tame (no music, no dancing, venue had to be cleaned up and vacated by 11pm). It was doubly painful because the front part of the venue was a beautiful century-old oak bar, with 20 or more (empty) taps and shelf upon shelf of.. nothing. Between the church ceremony and the reception, we were left to our own devices for an hour and a half.

    I went with my bf’s family to a little patio nearby and we had a couple of glasses of wine before heading back to the reception. I’m so glad we did – I find weddings where I’m the “plus one” to be anxiety-ridden, and while I’m certainly not a big drinker, it did help take the edge off.

    I completely understand weddings where religious or addiction reasons means booze is off the table. And I would never get stinking drunk at a wedding like that, or pre-drink to excess because it would likely be embarrassing for everyone and I wouldn’t want to steal focus. That being said, weddings where these reasons are not present and not even a glass of wine or a champagne toast is provided get a little eyebrow raise from me. Weddings are inherently awkward – quick! throw a party that your highschool girlfriend, grandmother, priest and coworker can all enjoy!- and a little social lubricant can make things nicer for the folks who travelled all this way to come celebrate you.

    • I don’t think the bride or groom are obligated to explain why they don’t have alcohol at their wedding. Sure, they might explain why, because alcohol at weddings is such an ingrained American cultural norm, but they might not want to disclose if their reasons are that one of them is in recovery or that they have alcoholic family members. Why go to a wedding to look for things to raise an eyebrow at? Enjoy the free food and party!

    • Does this feel different to anyone else? Sneaking alcohol into a party that is supposed to be dry feels disrespectful to me, as does leaving a reception to get booze and coming back, but taking a break that has been scheduled into the wedding to go get a drink doesn’t. I think it’s the differentiation between “host’s space, time and vision” and “my time.” When you accept an invitation you accept the host’s vision for that space and time, and on your own time you can do whatever you want.

      • I agree, popping out during a scheduled time for a cheeky drink is much, much different than sneaking in booze or coming back hammered.

  9. I’m afraid I’m going to have to agree that this is pretty rude and disrespectful. In fact, I’m actually pretty offended just thinking about it, even though I drink and we are having alcohol at our reception. If I had a dry wedding and found out that someone did this, I would just be so hurt at the implication that someone I made room for in my budget and seat limit cares more about getting drunk than about my comfort at my own wedding. It would make me feel like they weren’t really happy to celebrate my marriage and didn’t care about me. If you’re really not close enough to the couple to give up alcohol/meat/whatever for a few hours out of respect for them, do everyone a favor and RSVP no.

    • I do agree, except…not every person who would prefer a drink at a wedding or party “cares more about getting drunk”, as most don’t want to get drunk. They just want a drink. It’s still not on you to provide that, but the distinction is important. “I want a drink” =/= I want to get drunk”.

      • I agree that having a drink doesn’t make you a drunk, but I think the implication was that being unable to go a few hours drink-free is very odd.

        People expect alcohol at a wedding, but if it were another dry event for the same period of time, such as a kids birthday party, they’d be fine. I’m not against drinking, but I’d be really offended if someone drank at my dry wedding. I just don’t understand why it’s THAT big of a deal to not have booze, you know?

        • There are plenty of reasons why someone would want a dry wedding (or any type of event): religious & personal beliefs, attendees in recovery, legal or venue restrictions, wanting to mitigate risk of people getting intoxicated.

          Anyone who sees an issue with not being able to drink for a few hours likely has some serious problems. As a previous commenter said, if you can’t go without alcohol for a few hours or disagree with having a dry event then the only respectful thing to do is send regrets and not attend.

        • It’s more like as I said below: I don’t need a few drinks to go a few hours. Most people don’t. Most people who want alcohol at parties and weddings don’t.

          But for me, a party (including a wedding reception) is something whose recipe includes alcohol. It just does. Without it it’s…well I guess it’s still a party but something fundamental about it has been changed.

          But really my issue is that you used the word “drunk” when it’s not accurate. We do not all want to get drunk just because we’d like a drink.

          And actually, yeah, it is hard for me at parties without a drink or two (never more than three spaced out). I’m that weird combination of extroverted but socially awkward, so without a little Dutch courage I feel weird socializing in large groups. Doesn’t make me a drunk.

      • Kit is correct. If someone just enjoys alcohol without getting drunk, there’s no reason they can’t wait a while until after the wedding. It strikes me as bizarre or problematic to be so insistent on drinking at that specific event where it’s not permitted that someone is willing to sneak it in. Especially since most reasons someone could have for not serving alcohol (religious objections, addiction recovery, legal issues with the venue) are pretty serious.

        • That’s not what was said though. She said:

          “I would just be so hurt at the implication that someone I made room for in my budget and seat limit cares more about getting drunk than about my comfort at my own wedding”

          – the very small issue I’m bringing up is the assumption that “wants a drink” = “wants to get drunk”. That’s all.

          I actually agree with the rest of the post, but that sort of false dichotomy (“people who don’t care about drinking” vs. “people who just want to get drunk”) is worth calling out.

          • As someone who has worked at many venues with both wet and dry weddings, my experience has been that someone who sneaks in alcohol doesn’t want just one or two drinks. They end up being drunk.

            I think you are making a mountain out of the molehill however. The original poster would probably be just as upset at someone who only wanted a drink or two compared to someone who wanted to get drunk.

  10. Yeaaaah, let’s talk about how their wedding was in a park. Alcohol was probably forbidden by the city. People get away with it, but you did risk getting yelled by a city official at or a fine–possibly, the fine could’ve gone to your cousin for “allowing” alcohol at their event.
    There’s always a reason that people hosting a party make the choices that they do, and choosing to subvert those choices says, “Your party isn’t good enough for me.” And maybe nobody will notice, but probably you’re not half as slick as you think you are. ^_^* At least I always notice when people are secret drinking or toking.

    • Yep. We’re looking at doing our rehearsal dinner in a park and the city will shut down the whole event if someone has alcohol. I would have liked to offer beer or something to our guests, but we can’t. And I would be pretty pissed if our rehearsal dinner–let alone a wedding!–got shut down because someone just had to have alcohol.

      (I, too, look askance at people who claim that weddings are only fun if there’s drinking. It’s like, I’m glad you have so much faith in my ability to host a fun get-together sober.)

      • Getting married in August, having our ceremony at one park in town & the reception at a different park about 6 blocks away. The reason – the ordinances are different at the parks. The ceremony site doesn’t allow alcohol, but the other park does. Due to the fact that we want to have a toast using our favorite Bourbon, having everything at the ceremony site did not fit into our plans. Although not being able to make the toast with our favorite adult beverage, wasn’t a deal breaker, our day would be great either way.

  11. I don’t disagree with the comments above at all – I’m on board with it being disrespectful (EVEN if you actually feel fine, and don’t feel bad about yourself, for wanting to do it or deciding to do it – it’s still disrespectful).

    But, I’ve seen a few comments equating ‘wanting to drink’ with ‘wanting to get drunk’ and that’s, well, it’s neither accurate nor precise.

    I’ll admit it: I usually want to drink at dry weddings. I won’t do so (I might do so before or after though), but I want to, and yes, I do feel the dryness dulls the enjoyment a little bit. The happiness for the couple? No – that’s still out in force. But the party itself? I don’t need alcohol to have fun almost all of the time (i.e. if I’m not at a party) but parties, to me, are specifically events whose recipe for fun includes alcohol. I’ll still “enjoy the party”, but perhaps a bit less than I would have with some wine. And that’s OK – someone else’s wedding is not about me, so it doesn’t matter.

    But I do feel a lot of people want to not only make their own decisions for their own weddings (which – cool!) but also want every guest to be totally overjoyed at each decision (which honestly just ain’t gonna happen – and that’s also OK), and are mortally wounded when they hear that actually, not every guest is thrilled with every decision, rather than just shrugging and being all “so what? can’t please ’em all” about it.

    If a guest isn’t thrilled at the dryness of your wedding…well, so what? Can’t please ’em all. But it’s unrealistic to be hurt that they are anything other than thrilled. They can still be thrilled for your marriage and yet not thrilled at the lack of adult beverages.

    I STILL won’t drink…but honestly, I’ll want to. I don’t feel bad about that. And it does not mean that I “want to get drunk” or “care more about getting trashed”. That’s just not correct. Most people who want a drink or two won’t get drunk. I never get trashed anymore, it feels too gross.

    So please, I implore the commentariat, don’t equate “some people prefer to drink at a wedding” with “some people just want to get drunk at a wedding”. It is just not true.

    • I was scrolling down to say the exact same thing, but I definitely couldn’t have said it better than you did here! Just because someone wants to have a drink at a wedding does not mean that that person cares more about drinking than about the couple. If they did, they probably wouldn’t be at the wedding at all. Like you said, they “can still be thrilled for your marriage and yet not thrilled at the lack of adult beverages.”

      I think it is a very controversial decision (in some circles) not to have alcohol at a wedding. I also think it’s really mean to tell someone you won’t attend their wedding if they don’t serve alcohol, and it’s disrespectful to sneak it in. But to pretend that it’s not a controversial decision, or to be crushed to find out that someone is upset that you’re not serving alcohol…well, I think that’s on you to deal with.

      This is one of those decisions were you have to stand firm and say, “No. Nope. This is what’s right for me, and it’s not my job to make everyone else 100% happy at my wedding. It’s only my job to try to make myself happy. I can’t please everyone.” And then when you find out that people are disappointed, you have to find a way to cope with that on your own.

      • Honestly, I think it’s silly that it’s “controversial.” There are dozens of other social events that one would go to without being majorly bummed if there wasn’t alcohol. Barbeques. Birthday parties. Lunch with friends. A symposium. Even a bridal shower. Might a beer be nice at those things? Sure. But is anyone going to threaten to not come, or gripe about it, or judge the host, if alcohol isn’t offered? I doubt it. Why are weddings so much more fraught re: the alcohol thing? Why is that considered an integral part of the experience, especially given the range of weddings we see now?

        You can want a drink, but if you say anything about how tacky a dry wedding is, or you sneak alcohol in against the couple’s wishes, or you threaten not to come, that very clearly sends the message that your alcohol consumption is more important than that couple’s wishes or the party they’ve painstakingly crafted for you.

        • Actually, I really prefer alcohol at barbecues, and if it’s not provided I will quite likely either opt out or bring my own. And I don’t think that’s rude or unfair, either.

          Also, I disagree that a wedding is a party “crafted for you”. It’s not. It’s crafted for THEM. Which is fine, of course, but let’s all acknowledge that the party is for the couple, shall we?

          • Eh. The couple may get the gifts, but let’s be real: We’re spending a ton of money to host an enjoyable party for all these people who have come from near and far (mostly far) to see us. Wedding etiquette issues like this one almost exclusively cater to the guest experience, not the couple’s experience. Anyone who’s planning a wedding knows the demands and requests that come from other people and has made compromises on their original vision. So no, I’d say the whole point of weddings (that is, non-elopement weddings) is to put on a show for other people. Weddings have little bearing on the actual marriage.

            Also, while I don’t think it’s “rude or unfair” for you to opt out of a dry barbeque, it’s my opinion that it’s a silly reason to decline. I feel that going and spending time with loved ones, even if you’re sober, would still be more fun than staying at home.

        • I agree that it’s poor manners to sneer openly at the lack of alcohol or call it “tacky”.

          Along those lines though, it is also probably not the best idea for the couple to go fishing for validation (and yes, this does happen). If you are having a dry wedding, fine. I will still come, I won’t drink, and I won’t say a word about it unless directly asked (and possibly not even then). I will absolutely have a drink perhaps before or after, but that doesn’t concern you.

          If, however, I’m cornered and asked what I think of the dry wedding and if I think it’ll be less fun than a wedding where the wine flows freely…

          …well, the honest answer to that is “yes, I do think it’ll be a bit less fun”.

          What was the old nugget? Don’t ask questions you don’t want answers to. You know your guests would mostly prefer alcohol be served, so if you choose not to, it’s probably best not to ask them what they think of that.

          The vast majority won’t be so rude as to say something about it unless you solicit their opinions.

        • Actually I would be bummed not to have alcohol at ALL of those events. Even at a symposium I’d likely have a drink with lunch if it were on the weekend, and I would DEFINITELY wxpect to drink at a baby shower. And I guess that’s part of that for me. I’ve already given you a gift, and most of my weekend (provided that I’m not also traveling). I would never not go to a dry wedding just because it’s dry (though I might skip a baby shower for that reason), and I *probably* wouldn’t sneak in a flask, but you can’t expect me to have zero feelings about the absence of alcohol. It’s a little disappointing is all. I won’t judge you for your dry wedding, and you shouldn’t judge me for my mild disappointment.

          • You would skip a baby shower if there was no alcohol. You do realize a pregnant woman can’t drink?

  12. Our venue doesn’t allow hard liquor, so we are fully hosting beer and wine for our guests. However, we have mentioned to a few people the venues’ rule, and they’ve made jokes about sneaking in a flask. This says 2 things to me; a) even though my fiancé and I are providing you unlimited beer and wine, you feel you can’t have a good time without hard liquor, and b) you don’t care whether we get in trouble with our venue and lose our deposit. I think it’s rude, simple as that.

  13. I think for myself, its the fact that the decision to have a dry wedding was probably influenced by people being in recovery from addiction that moves the decision to sneak in alcohol from, a basic ‘you should respect the extremely reasonable request from the person who has invited you to share their day’ into ‘you probably need to take some time on your own to think about whether you are currently thinking about the ways your actions effect others, or if you are currently extremely self involved, because you were willing to cause potential harm/relapse/trauma in order to have a drink.’

    I don’t want to make assumptions about your drinking levels, because I don’t have any info about that, but I wonder what your personal relationship is with alcohol and with addiction and recovery. Whether for yourself or people close to you. The fact that you wrote in shows you are questioning your decision, I feel like this is a good time for some self reflection.

  14. I think the simplest answer is:

    Do you want to support and honor your friend/relative and their day or would you rather be selfish?

    Because, bottom line, it is selfish to introduce an element into someone else’s day that they are uncomfortable having there. How about you bring a guest even though there’s no +1? There are a million examples to be made. [The vegan example is damn perfection.] Honestly, if you anticipate that the wedding will be so boring that you can’t make it through sober and present, don’t go. Or meet up with people afterwards for an after-party of your own making (and expense).

  15. I’m on board with the “yes, it’s disrespectful.” I completely understand wanting to have a drink or two at a social event. It acts as a social lubricant and might make the conversation flow better among people who don’t know each other all that well. It gives you something to do with your hands. It gives you an excuse to get away from an awkward conversations “Oh! I need to refresh my drink!” But it’s not necessary!
    Whether a wedding is fun for me or not does not depend on the presence or consumption of alcohol. Especially since finding out about a medical condition which makes it risky for me to drink alcohol at all. We’re having alcohol at our wedding, but if we weren’t, and I found out that someone had snuck it in or cut out early to go to a bar I would be hurt. Hurt that they obviously didn’t care enough about me to respect my wishes for my wedding day. Hurt that drinking was more important than celebrating my marriage.

    • Really? You would be hurt if someone left early so they could take care of their own needs without disrespectfully bringing alcohol into a dry wedding?

      • I think “needs” is a little strong. They’re not cutting out early to go home and take their insulin shot.

      • You’re at my wedding/event because I like your company and want you to be there, so, barring illness or bodily functions, if you peace out without telling me, even if you come back, that’s still rude.

        This isn’t that much different from going out to get McDonald’s because you don’t like the food served at the wedding. If you’re vegan and there’s no vegan options at the wedding, that’s not your fault, that’s on the host if you told them your dietary restriction(s). But if you discover that they’re serving chicken and what you really want is a hamburger, that’s not a “need” and it’s rude to go get one.

  16. I think that for me, this burns down to respecting the space that someone has created, and finding ways to meet your own needs around that.

    I take part in events at my local Salvation Army hall, and the ‘no drinking’ rule is a big deal to them, so it would feel wrong and disrespectful to me to take alcohol into the building.
    I feel like it’s the same deal when someone creates a one-off event that imposes certain rules: if it’s someone’s intention to create a space that allows x but not y, I feel that intention should be honoured while you are actually within that space.

    At the same time, I am a big believer in the importance of alcohol as part of social ritual. I rarely drink on my own, but sharing a drink with friends is an important social experience for me in situations where such a thing would normally be expected, and I would feel the loss if I was at a wedding where that didn’t happen.
    And that really doesn’t have anything to do with needing alcohol to have a good time, or wanting to get drunk. It’s more that alcohol is a part of my mental picture of ‘things you find at a wedding reception’, so I’d notice it not being there.
    (I’m guessing that weddings without dancing also have a certain number of guests going ‘no dancing? meh’, even if there are bunches of other things to do. You have to work hard to get past the expectations.)

    Instead of trying to sneak in the ‘missing elements’, though, I feel that a more positive way of dealing with that would be to think of ways to fill the niche *outside* the venue space.
    If the wedding is dry, maybe it would be possible to arrange a meet-up with drinks some time around the wedding (after hours? the night before?), so you have that time with your friends/family separate from the wedding?
    If the wedding is vegan, and you’re a big meat eater, perhaps you could aim to have a really good cooked breakfast beforehand?

    Unless you’re genuinely stranded in the middle of nowhere with no free time to yourself for the whole day, there are probably ways to tick all (or most) of your personal boxes in a way that enhances the day, without any need for sneaking.

  17. I think some of the comments about the LW are needlessly harsh, and some of them make unfair assumptions about LW. It’s clear that LW does NOT think that what they did was okay, and in that way, Ariel’s advice is spot-on. But to assume LW has a drinking problem, or to outright call LW an “asshole,” is totally unfair and unnecessary. It also ignores a pretty basic truth: like it or not, people sometimes bring alcohol to dry weddings. (Every episode of every wedding show I have ever seen in which a dry wedding was featured filmed multiple — not one, but multiple — people sneaking alcohol into the wedding.)

    And at the end of the day, I would be willing to bet that some of those people don’t even see what they’re doing as being all that bad — not because they’re assholes or drunks or whatever, but because it doesn’t seem like that much of a violation to them. And trying to teach people why it is bad by calling them “assholes” is not productive.

    I’m not condoning LW’s behavior, especially in light of the fact that LW was clearly uncomfortable with it, but LW is not evil.

    • Agreed. Friends, our comment policy still applies here — you can get your point across (strongly, even) without calling someone an asshole.

  18. From a wedding vendor perspective not only is it disrespectful but it can jeopardize the couple’s day and any vendor’s associated with the alcohol’s livelihood.

    Sometime dry weddings are dry for other reasons besides moral opinions…$$$$. Alcohol service is expensive and for good reason. The liability alone for a vendor to offer this service can be outrageous in some states which is why this service can come with a high price causing couples to nix the idea. There are ways to reduce this cost provided there aren’t restrictions from the venue causing a couple to utilize the required vendors.

    Alcohol liability ultimately will fall on the host of the party(typically one of the couple) and if a couple does not choose to obtain a single event insurance or hire someone who is insured they may opt to not deal with the liability at all…*ie a Dry wedding.

    An accident cause from drinking at an event can ultimately make the host of the event responsible. It is a long shot at a dry wedding however lawyers will find any and every loop hole and possibility to sue and place fault on anyone they can. Plus some couples do not have it in their budget to supply alcohol at their event.

    So yes, in my opinion it is disrespectful not only for my reasons stated but for the many reasons stated in response to this post.

  19. Yeah, it’s disrespectful. And rude. And inconsiderate.

    Like many commenters have pointed out, sneaking alcohol into a dry wedding could put the entire wedding at risk. It could put someone’s sobriety at risk.

    I’m not going to say that if you want to drink at a party you’re an alcoholic. I’m 24 years old, I enjoy drinking and getting drunk, and I had an open bar at my wedding. I get the alcohol is fun thing.

    But if sneaking in a drink is more important to you than respecting the wishes of the people who are getting married, who invited you to share this day with them, maybe you should reevaluate why you’re going to the wedding in the first place.

    They invited you, asked you not to drink at the event, and you did anyway. Of course it’s disrespectful. Of course it’s rude. And taking into consideration that it could have shut down their entire reception, yes, it’s also very inconsiderate.

    And maybe because it was your cousin’s wedding and not a close friend, you feel that they invited you because they had to and not because they wanted to. Maybe you didn’t really want to be there. Maybe you think their reasons for having a dry wedding were invalid or not good enough. Maybe you think they should have warned you that it would be dry. Maybe you think they should have provided better-tasting punch (I’ve been there). But you went to the wedding, and you should have respected their choices. That’s what Offbeat Bride is all about: respecting the choices that people hosting weddings make, even if you really, really don’t get it.

  20. Yeah, long story short, disrespectful, rude and inconsiderate, but you’ve already got the gist of that.

    It’s good that you’ve realized this was a bad move and I’m sure you’re sorry for it. My only concern is, would the bride forgive you if she found out? What if you were caught? Would that damage your relationship with them?

    I’ve expressly forbidden illicit substances from our wedding for various reasons and I’m not sure I’d be able to forgive someone who decided to sneak them in. If you can’t go without for the night, maybe you just shouldn’t go.

  21. I grew up in the south at a time where the reception was finger foods. cake and punch in the basement of the church after the ceremony, I never remember alcohol being served at wedding receptions or music and dancing, Everyone seemed to have a good time just talking and catching up with old friends and family, Most people in our family did serve alcohol in their home when entertaining however would never have dreamed of trying to sneak it in to someone’s wedding, I am wondering when this all changed and people thought they had to have alcohol at a wedding or is this a regional thing? I do feel it is disrespectful to go against the wishes of your host and sneak in alcohol at a dry event, There is usually a good reason the event is dry which as a guest is really none of your business, Just as if you are not attending an event because of no alcohol it is not your business to insult your host by telling them that is why you are not attending, A simple I cannot make it that day would suffice, I want to know why people today think it is ok to be so rude to people, Especially people who are spending a good amount of money to provide food and beverage for you. If you cannot have a good time at an event without alcohol then you are the one with the problem and not them, I have attended weddings in recent years where alcohol was served and at every one of them at least one person was drunk and making a fool of themselves before the evening was over, Maybe some people would like to avoid that situation at their wedding,

    • I definitely think that regional/cultural differences are a big thing here.

      Where I’m from, alcohol (in moderation) is absolutely the normal, expected thing at basically any social event involving over-18s that begins after noon, and it’s very unusual for restrictions to be imposed outside religious buildings.
      (We make up for this with draconian restrictions on confetti.)

      So, I’ve been finding it pretty weird to see a lot of the ‘you wouldn’t expect alcohol at [x type of party], would you?’ comments here. Because I totally would. Indeed, for any kind of house party, I’d bring alcohol, because ‘polite guests bring wine to the party’ has been beaten into me.
      The last time I hosted a barbecue, I ended up with twice as much wine as I started with, because everyone adhered to that etiquette despite not actually being wine-drinkers.

      That’s absolutely not to say that I or my friends wouldn’t respect decisions to do things differently!
      But this discussion has made me think that if I ever host an event where I have guests coming in from different places, it would probably be worth spelling out some of the aspects that I take for granted, so nobody is caught out or leaps to any negative assumptions.

      (And yes, I totally agree that it is unnecessary to tell anyone that you aren’t coming to their event because you don’t like what they’re doing! Whatever happened to ‘we’d love to come, but we have prior commitments’?)

      • ‘we’d love to come, but we have prior commitments’

        This is the aspect of wedding guest outrage that confuses me the most… it’s a part you’ve been invited to! No one has to attend! It’s ok, everyone: you can just politely decline! Life will go on!

  22. I just don’t understand the absolute need to have alcohol. My family is crazy enough without the damn stuff…

    Ours will be teetotal for health reasons, namely that I’m bipolar and drinking is a trigger for me. I can imagine that on such an very emotional day I’ll probably end up on an up (which, plus alcohol is a very dangerous mix for me) If I’m up, I don’t necessarily care about the consequences, so by removing the temptation to drink, it solves a bunch of problems before they even *become* problems. Anyway.

    We’ve taken the approach with this of warning people (so they’re not disappointed), and explaining if they ask for reasoning (which most people have. Not in a rude “how darest thou remove my piss-up juice!” kinda way, but an “is everything ok?” kinda way). Once they understand, everyone seems to be pretty much, “yeah, sure, we can go with that. IT’S GONNA BE SO AWESOME!”

    And that’s so encouraging. These decisions (to drink or not to drink, ecru or eggshell napkins, etc) which seem so much more trivial in daily life seem to take on a whole new meaning when the word “wedding” is mentioned.

  23. The question of it being disrespectful is quite valid (and I agree that it is disrespectful), but there is also the question of legality.

    I am opting for a dry wedding for various reasons, and normally, I wouldn’t care all that much if someone sneaks in a discrete nip. However, due to certain stipulations that we didn’t look into (because we knew we wanted a dry wedding), events at our location that include alcohol require a police detail. Since we will not have the police detail, if someone sneaks in alcohol, I’m not sure what kind of liability that would cause for us, and I really, really don’t want to find out!

    We’ve been pretty open about telling our guests this, especially the ones we’re afraid might try to sneak something in.

  24. I need to bring up an uncomfortable possibility that I don’t think anyone else has mentioned: If you feel an absolute need to sneak alcohol into a dry wedding, you should take a serious moment and consider whether YOU are part of the reason why the couple decided to have a dry wedding. Many couples choose to limit or eliminate alcohol from their weddings to keep a select few guests from drinking, and you could be one of them.

    It’s also worth pointing out that if you feel that booze at a wedding is a need and not just a want, you might want to look into getting professional help for whatever you “need” the alcohol for. Alcohol may be the easiest, but probably isn’t the best solution for your problems.

    At the end of the day, it comes down to this: Your friend/family member told you to not do a thing. Not doing the thing won’t harm you in any way. You do the thing anyways. That kinda makes you an asshole.

  25. OMG! Why would someone even consider doing something like that? Our morning wedding is dry because it is in a state historic park. It is in the morning because it will be on July 4, and we realize folks have a few other obligations on such a holiday, even if it is only getting home in time to give the dog her calming pills. We seriously want people to come, have some fun, and leave everything the way it was before they got there.

    Please drink all you wish at home, but not at our wedding! Don’t drive home at 2 in the afternoon buzzed already, please!! Can I say “please” enough? Because the idea that someone didn’t make it home because they sneaked in alcohol to our wedding would be heartbreaking. Come on!! Three hours?? Really?? Please???

  26. So your cousin has “recently stopped drinking” and wanted a dry reception. That indicates that she’s avoiding alcohol because of her own health and recovery, which makes sneaking in booze a pretty horrible thing to do. Chances are she knows you drank because she has plenty of experience with people who are consuming alcohol. People who are acting drunk frequently don’t realize they are.

    “I respect her decision to throw the reception she wanted.” Well, if you did, you wouldn’t have snuck out and snuck liquor in.

    “In a park.” See the previous comments about legality.

    “Sunday school punch” If you think that alcohol-free punch belongs only in the kids’ section of a church, then you may want to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol.

    All in all, I’m going to say that at best, sneaking around was a bonding experience with your brother, which is great, but it could have been done at a better time. At worst, it sounds like you don’t have much respect for your cousin’s wishes and may possibly have a drinking problem. If your cousin ever mentions your drinking at her reception, I recommend apologizing.

  27. Two of my best friends got married when we were all 21/22 years old. They had their reception in a park because they were on a tight budget and it was the cheapest venue they could find. Park rules said no alcohol.
    So we all had fun hanging out at the reception, and when the (exhausted) bride and groom called it an early night, a bunch of us kids went out to a bar and had drinks. It was a perfectly lovely day, and nobody complained about the lack of booze at the reception. Because we all loved our friends, and understood that they couldn’t afford a reception hall and a lot of booze. No big!
    That being said, I’m not much of a drinker but I do enjoy a drink or two at a wedding because I am a socially anxious person. Dry weddings aren’t the end of the world though!

  28. The last wedding I attended was dry and it was the bride and groom who had flasks.

  29. I personally think that is terribly disrespectful. You don’t have to like or even know why someone wants a dry wedding/event, but if you are attending you do have to respect that. For me, my dad is and was a heavy alcoholic and very physically abusive to my sister, myself, our pets and any girlfriend he had. Also my grandmother is and was a nasty alcoholic and verbally abusive to everyone and anyone. I don’t feel I should have to share this story and it’s details with everyone of my guests just to get them to understand why, they should just respect our wishes. Even now as an adult, I barely drink and when I do, it’s very little. I personally feel, if someone can’t go a few hours without a drink, they are not someone I want to be around much less have at my wedding or event. I could go on and on, but it would just make me more angry at the subject.


    I want those garters.

    • Oh I would call that VERY MUCH RELATED!
      Those garters are making me rethink my position both on hip flasks and garters in general!

  31. We had a dry wedding. For one, it was a morning/lunch event so we didn’t think alcohol was necessary (and I would encourage this option for folks who want a dry wedding – most people are much less upset about a lack of alcohol in the morning than in the evening). My husband’s family and guests come from a religious background that discourages alcohol. We also just wanted to keep the budget down and didn’t want to offer a cash bar. There were 1.5 people who were bummed about it being dry: my aunt, who is kind of borderline alcoholic anyway and a sourpuss in general, and my brother (he’s the half) who really likes drinking but for over it once it was clear that we wouldn’t have any booze.

    I actually wouldn’t have personally cared that much – I don’t drink but I’m around a lot of people who do (including my husband, when his folks aren’t around xD), but I think I would have been more bummed that someone took it upon themselves to get alcohol rather than just asking. I also specifically planned a booze-friendly after-party for the evening, so I would have felt bad that they couldn’t wait for that event.

    I also would have felt really bad if my husband’s family had been made uncomfortable by someone having alcohol. It would be my family because we’re pretty liberal with the booze normally. But I don’t think it would start a couple off on a good foot to have the different sides made uncomfortable by something like that.

    I also don’t drink for personal/medical reasons (truth be told, I just can’t hold my liquor). I haven’t had more than tiny sips in years. I’ve been to a couple of weddings and other big parties and believe me, it was plenty fun without alcohol. I am super socially awkward, but I have my own strategies for social lubrication when I have to make small talk with a stranger. It’s actually a really good skill to have.

    I’m not saying everyone who wants to drink at a wedding is a horrible drunk, but I think most of the “reasons” for needing alcohol at a wedding strike me as problematic and often selfish. If you want to have a super boozy wedding, go ahead and have it! But make the choice to not have alcohol when you’re asked not to. If I have to suffer through only having water all night because you don’t have any non-alcoholic drinks at your wedding, you have to suffer through iced tea and soda for mine =P

    • I just wanted to say THIS so badly at your last comment about suffering through only water all night because of the lack of non-alcoholic drinks! I’ve only been to one wedding in memory where I wasn’t lumped with water (and even then it was sugary juice instead of a champagne flute)!

  32. Whew! There’s a lot of feels on this!

    I don’t think I have anything to add on the should you/shouldn’t you aspect of the issue but there is a recurring theme of “how could you contemplate doing this” that I’d like to address.

    First of all let me be clear that I wouldn’t be tempted to sneak in my own alcohol. It’s not a big deal for me to attend a dry function and it’s definitely not worth jeopardizing my relationship with the bridal couple.

    But weddings are funny things and the stress doesn’t always flow in one direction — toward the bride and groom. Sometimes guests can feel like they’re servicing one-too-many demands from the couple and even if the individual requests are reasonable, if you pile on too many of them, people start to feel controlled and they push back. “I’m driving 200 miles in the middle of a work week to wear a hideous dress that I had to pay for and now you can’t even let me hop over to the hotel bar to buy myself a drink?!?

    Of course the right way to handle this is through communication. Here’s a copy-n-paste suggestion!
    “Look, I think I’ve done enough for you, bitch. I’m a grown-ass adult and I’m getting a fucking drink”.

    Ha ha — just kidding! I have no idea how to handle this since it’s never bothered me. But I don’t think you’re crazy-in-the-head for contemplating it.

    • Totally spot-on about the stressors, and that was my first thought too. I’m not a huge fan of family functions, so I completely understand wanting alcohol to deal with that. I mean, how many times can a girl be asked when she’s going to settle down or have kids or get a real job, etc.? Then you add in the dress and the travel and the strange town and being riled up with excitement, and you’re likely to need assistance coping.

  33. Here’s a comment I haven’t seen yet (apologies if I just missed it): how do you know you’ve been “discreet”? I don’t know how anyone could be so sure that nobody will spot the booze, but at the same time the drinker will *totally* spot anyone who notices the booze. The physical object is bound to be a lot easier to spot than the glance of someone who sees it. Also, I don’t know about other people, but my powers of observation and my ability to remain subtle are not improved with alcohol.

    Just because nobody said anything or gave you a dirty look doesn’t mean nobody noticed and nobody was upset.

      • Because no one notices that 3 people are in the same stall or that you go to the bathroom every 20 minutes.
        I noticed all of the illicit activity at my cousin’s wedding, from under age drinking to getting high in the bushes. It actually changed the guest list of my own future wedding. Those people I noticed, although family, won’t be getting an invite to my dry wedding.
        If you can sit through 3 hours of The Hobbit, you can handle a reception without booze.

  34. Two of my close friends recently got married. Friend #1 had a dry wedding for rather hypocritical religious reasons (she drinks and parties like nothing else when ‘the church’ isn’t watching) the wedding was about a three hour drive out of town and although I would have dearly loved a drink at various times to help me cope with the other guests who were culty and closed minded, it was actually really lovely to go through the event entirely sober and be able to drive home at the end of it.
    Friend #2 had a typical drinks heavy wedding and although I usually only get tipsy, not drunk, I had had a rough week, not eaten for a few days and as a result got roaring drunk.
    Months later the embarrassment of getting drunk at her wedding and having to leave early because of it is still completely fresh in my mind and I’m not entirely sure if she’s forgiven me for it.
    I think that I have inadvertently become a fan of dry weddings for any reason

  35. After days of this heavily commented-upon posting, I have to say I am pretty disappointed. I thought Offbeat Bride was filled with special, quirky folks who wanted to have some fun with their weddings instead of opting for the one Mom had.

    Instead, it seems full of neurotic drunks. Selfish neurotic drunks. There are so many reasons one would choose not to serve alcohol: medications, allergies, concern for others lack of propriety–and how about just personal preference?

    If one rereads this entire posting, it is all pretty hypocritical. Here we claim we want the right to get married OUR way–be it steampunk, LGBT, or fairies–and we want that to be OK, which it is. Then when someone wants to add “dry” to that list . . . well . . . somehow that is not okay. Maybe even I might need a drink to get through a complete Furry wedding, but if it was supposed to be dry, then dry (and Furry) it is!

    We are here to support each other, not sneak into each other’s weddings (figuratively speaking) and mess with them. Come on, people!

    • Oh? I almost exclusively see comments agreeing that sneaking in alcohol to a dry wedding is disrespectful and not okay.

    • Whuh? Pretty much every comment seems to be in favour of respecting the wishes of the couple having a dry wedding!

  36. I just thought of a good standard for knowing whether sneaking in a flask is ok! If you’re quite sure you could offer BOTH the bride and groom a subtle-but-not-completely-hidden nip off of your flask without either of them being at all offended, worried, or unhappy, then I think you’re a-ok to bring it in! Otherwise, leave it at home.

  37. We just had a dry wedding, and literally addressed this issue with a HUGE sign at the front of our hall. I am a recovering alcoholic, and most of my family are drunks. I just didn’t see us celebrating in typical boozy fashion. But because so much of my extended family are heavy drinkers, we wanted to squish the ‘stealing nips from the flask’ idea or ‘brown bag at the car’ idea in the butt. We made it very clear both on our wedding website that we had zero tolerance for booze, drugs or intoxication and with a sign asking guests to respect our wishes at the hall. Kicking out family on my wedding day because they couldn’t respect that for a few hours was something i was totally prepared to do. Why would we have people like that (disrespectful and rude) celebrate one of the biggest days of our life? We don’t want them for a day, or in our life. Luckily, it wasn’t an issue. But I would guess it’s only because we were obnoxiously clear about it.

    • I’m curious as to exactly what you said on the sign and on your website, partly because you describe it as “obnoxiously clear” (way to stand up for yourself and not care who you piss off! No, seriously, you are one Bad-Ass Bride.) and partly because I’m planning a dry wedding myself and I intend to be extremely clear in my beforehand warnings that “dry” does not mean “Pssst… trunk bar in the red Chevy Cobalt in the back of the parking lot”, it means “if there is alcohol on site we will get in trouble with the site, and possibly with the law, and we are not willing to risk that for you no matter how much we love you – period”. So essentially I’m kind of wondering how you worded it – and asking if I could maybe steal your wording!

  38. The thing that sticks out to me in the post is that the OP’s cousin used to party, but has become teetotal now. That suggests that she’s probably either quit for health reasons or possibly even addiction reasons right? I can see no other reason for banning alcohol from the day altogether. If that’s the case, why would anyone put someone in a position where their health or sobriety would be at risk just because they couldn’t have a drink for a couple of hours? That’s really not cool. Not to mention the hefty fines you could be burdening the couple with if you got caught.

    I’m from England and alcohol at most social events is par for the course. I like a drink myself and it will be served at my wedding. However, if I were invited to a dry wedding, I would absolutely respect the couple’s wishes, no questions asked. There are myriad reasons why people might not feel comfortable having alcohol at their wedding. If you don’t think you can go without a drink at all, either don’t go or wait until after the event.

  39. I attended a wedding last year that was dry. The venue itself did not allow events that served alcohol on their property. The bride and groom wanted the venue more than they wanted the drinking so they did without. A few weeks after the bride confided to me that she was very hurt upon realizing a number or their family and friends (including members of the bridal party) had skipped the “mocktail” hour to go off and buy booze. Not only did they then proceed to get incredibly drunk, but they ruined the surprise exit (bridesmaid announced it, unprompted) and got the couple in trouble with the venue. The management was somewhat understanding, but the drunken rowdiness of a few of the guests ended in property damage and additional clean up fees. What hurt her the most though, was that other guests were so appalled with the drunk guests behavior that they left early. Personally, I would have preferred if they’d had a bar, but I find what the other guests did disrespectful.

  40. Alcohol at weddings was actually the final straw that drove me from other online planning communities so I am so, so relieved and happy to see so many people with similar feelings to my own on this subject. I don’t drink often (no particular reason, I just generally don’t have a huge desire for something that no matter how much you add does not taste quite as good as straight juice and is going to cost me an extra $5), so I personally don’t understand not being able to make it through an event without alcohol. Someone at one of the aforementioned communities had suggested that maybe if you absolutely cannot go without there may be a deeper problem and that devolved into the woman being ridiculed along with anyone else thinking in a similar vein and some jokes about AA etc that made me pretty uncomfortable.

    If this were a question about any other sort of “offbeat” decision it would be a no-brainier would it not? If you don’t like something and you don’t want to follow a rule/request then don’t go. Why is alcohol apparently an exception to this (and something you can expect be provided for you on someone else’s dime)?

  41. My question would be, “Why do you feel you need alcohol to enjoy yourself?” That would be a concern in itself.

  42. My husband and I got married in the morning, but even before we made that decision I wanted it to be a dry wedding. We have friends that get drunk and sloppy (not alcoholic grade sloppy, but sloppy), and some that get angry drunk, and some that have no idea what their limit is (or just don’t care) and always get sick if they start to drink. Thankfully, no one decided to go out and get liquor, but I would have been very hurt if someone had. It definitely would have said “these people don’t enjoy me enough to enjoy the happiest day of my life with me while they’re sober.” Quite frankly, I’d have probably had someone kick them out.

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