“Among other things, marriage is a legally binding civil contract. If either party appears to be overly intoxicated or not of sound mind prior to the ceremony, Rev. Fuller may, at her discretion, decline to officiate and the couple remains responsible for all officiating fees.”
I have never had to invoke this clause. I can only recall one bride and groom who generated any serious degree of suspicion, but there can be a very fine line between high as a kite and massively stressed. I honestly could not tell if the two were under the influence of something stronger than a few drinks or if their behavior was due to nerves. I didn’t smell anything, so if they were intoxicated it was definitely through pharmacological means rather than fermented or distilled. I discretely asked a few questions to determine they knew full well what they were doing and once satisfied, pressed on.
I am far more likely to see alcohol impact the ceremony by way of drunk family members or tipsy bridesmaids and groomsmen than I am an inebriated bride or groom. Still, I highly recommend you wait until the reception before seriously imbibing and encourage any and all associated with your festivities to do so as well. I can recall I had one bride wound up so tight I thought she would implode. She was obsessing over every little detail and even threatened to leave the wedding venue to calm down by going for a drive. Ten minutes before the wedding! I begged the caterer to uncork a champagne bottle and handed the bride a glass myself. I’m not sure if it was to relax her or to occupy her mouth so she wouldn’t express concern about one more detail over which she no longer had any control. Either way, it did the trick.
While celebrations in our culture are seemingly inextricably linked with alcohol, you are under no obligation to serve alcoholic beverages at your wedding. If you do make it available, just keep in mind the potential for abuse. Unfortunately, due to the nature of weddings as festive and social occasions, problem drinkers in your circle of family and friends are more likely to show up at a wedding already tipsy than make a concerted effort to remain sober for the big event. Yes, even if they are a member of the wedding party and the ceremony begins before noon.
I have seen a bride steady her thoroughly inebriated escort down the aisle, a wasted groomsmen sneak off to relieve himself in the bushes when the bridesmaids began walking down the aisle, and a sheriff's deputy haul away a plastered guest making a spectacle of herself. Lest you believe these to be "redneck" weddings, think again. All three were formal affairs at elegant venues. A word of advice - stiletto heels and a tipsy bridesmaid do not a good combination make. If you have an attendant inclined to drink, either hide the hard stuff before the ceremony or put her in flat shoes.
I completely understand reluctance to do so, but I always appreciate it when a bride and groom warn me of a known drinker who will be in attendance. I have become incredibly skilled at spotting and heading off pending trouble in this area, but a little advance notice always helps. If a bar is readily available at your ceremony site, you want to do everything in your power to make sure your wedding begins on time. Any delays and your guests will be testing out the bartender's skills. As for the reception, if you anticipate the possibility of a problem and are serving alcohol, definitely let your bartenders and servers know who the usual suspects are. They can water down an individual's drinks, serve smaller pours and cut him or her off without you having to be the bad guy.
Due to the hustle and bustle, as well as the normal stress and anxiety associated with weddings, your day is already going to feel like something of a blur. Pace yourself with the alcohol and stay hydrated by alternating with non-alcoholic caffeine-free drinks as well. This is a day you want to remember with fondness, not embarrassment or regret.