How to avoid guests over indulging on alcoholic drinks on the big day

car crashing in to wedding cake outside historical venue

One in six (16 per cent) wedding guests admit to driving home the morning after a wedding, when they could still be over the alcohol limit, reveals new research1 from Direct Line Motor Insurance. In a bid to remind drivers about the risks of getting behind the wheel after celebratory drinking, a car was crashed into a three-metre-high wedding cake outside Blenheim Palace2, one of the UK’s most instagramable wedding venues.

With one in five (20 per cent) guests saying they have been driven home by someone they thought was over the drink drive limit, the morning after celebrating nuptials, the smashed wedding cake highlights the risks involved with driving the morning after.

The research also reveals 18-34-year-olds are the biggest offenders when it comes to driving over the drink drive limit the morning after a wedding, with a quarter (25 per cent), admitting to having done so in the past year. The limit is 80mg per 100ml of blood3 in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland or 50mg in Scotland. Young people also lead the charge on alcohol consumption, with over half (59 per cent) revealing they often consume 11 or more drinks at a wedding, which could be almost double their weekly recommended unit allowance4. A fifth (20 per cent) of men drink over half of their recommended daily calorie allowance5 in beer at a wedding, over five drinks.

When it comes to how alcohol is offered on a couple’s special day, almost half (47 per cent) of weddinggoers that have attended a wedding within the last two years, say they were treated to a free bar. This could cost the couple upwards of £3,710 based on 100 guests6, with the average guest consuming nine drinks.

To raise awareness of the risks of drink driving after a wedding, Direct Line has teamed up with celebrity wedding planner, Mark Niemierkowho says: “When I’m planning a wedding the aim is to help clients and their guests celebrate and have a good time, whilst also ensuring their safety is top priority. Having planned weddings for more than twenty years, I continue to see more and more people driving themselves to and from weddings. Whilst many might think one night’s sleep is enough to get the alcohol out of their system post-wedding, it’s unfortunately not the case considering the amount of alcohol that is typically consumed.”

Almost a third (29 per cent) of people reveal they consume 16 alcoholic drinks or more at a wedding. Nearly two-thirds (61 per cent) of guests who drink consume their weekly recommended number of alcohol units or more during just one wedding. And worryingly, over a fifth (21 per cent) of men admit they have planned to avoid drinking alcohol but changed their mind and still drove home at the end of the night.

The campaign is also being backed by Dr Joeran Koechling, who recently led a University of Cambridge study into the reasons behind drink driving. He comments, “As we approach the wedding season, it's paramount to ignite conversations about safe driving and alcohol consumption. We must confront the sobering truth: road traffic injuries have become the leading killer of people aged five to 29 years, and alcohol-related traffic accidents are one of the major causes7.”

Dr Koechling continues, “Research indicates drivers mistakenly believe themselves fit to drive when their blood alcohol concentration reaches dangerous levels8. We know risk taking behaviour also increases while being intoxicated, so it’s no surprise that crucial driving abilities, such as steering, reaction time, and control of the acceleration are severely compromised in these circumstances.”

Matt Pernet, Head of Motor Insurance at Direct Line comments, “As one of the UK’s leading motor insurers, we’re on a mission to help make roads safer for everyone. With people planning to attend spring and summer weddings, raising awareness of the dangers of drink-driving the morning after is incredibly important. We want to remind the nation to think twice before getting into a car, whether they themselves or their driver might still be over the limit.”

Niemierko has created tips and guidance for couples planning their big day to help navigate guests’ alcohol consumption, including:

1. Location, Location, Logistics: when considering the location of your wedding, think about how guests will get to and from the nuptials. Planning for a city wedding can be easier as guests can either hail their own cab or order in advance. There is a lot more to consider though if your wedding is in a remote countryside location, such as transport to and from the hotel to celebrations. Shockingly, 24 per cent of men are likely to get behind the wheel while over the drink driving limit the morning after a wedding. Pre-booking transport or including public transport options on your invitations can mean guests avoid driving themselves after indulging at the wedding bar.

2. Safe transport is key: to avoid the hassle of guests finding their own transport on the day or night of the event itself, provide a fun way to get to and from the celebrations - think, party bus! Or, if your guests choose to get their own taxi home from the event, have security at the exit of your wedding venue to ensure they get into their ride safely - this can also ensure a smooth flowing departure from the celebrations.

3. Avoid overindulgence: weddings can easily encourage guests to drink more than any other social event. In fact, a whopping 44 per cent of guests consume 11 or more drinks at a wedding. To help get around this, minimise the menu to having three cocktails of your choice, as well as one prosecco, one red, and one white. And when it comes to the reception, avoid drinks being pre-poured too often!

4. Don’t start too early: the key to help manage the amount that your guests drink, is to avoid serving any beverages prior to the ceremony. It means your guests will stand around for a chat and often leads them to linger when you need them to take their seats for the wedding to begin.

5. Stay hydrated: as weddings can be quite long days, it’s important to consider constant hydration for your guests. I like to ensure there is a water glass at each place setting, that is consistently topped up by waiters throughout the evening, as well as water stations at the bar - this can also make up for the water that is lost when drinking alcohol.

1Research commissioned by Direct Line. Opinium consumer research, 2,000 Nat Rep UK adults, carried out April 2024 | 2Blenheim Palace most popular Instagram wedding venue | The drink drive limit - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) | Drink less - Better Health - NHS (www.nhs.uk) | What should my daily intake of calories be? | 6 Based on 60% of guests, consuming seven or more drinks. Average drink cost in the UK price: £5.30. (1x glass of wine : £4.96, 1 x beer: £4.70, 1 x cider: £4.70, 1 x shot of vodka: £4.50, 1 x champagne: £8, 1 x straight spirit £4.50, 1 x spirit with mixer £6). Champagne based off the average price of a bottle of champagne divided by no. of glasses in a bottle (6) | Road Traffic Injuries - Who (www.who.int)  |National Institution of Health

 

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