The Complete Guide to Drinking at a Wedding

Pro-level open bar strategy for the seasoned partier.

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Wedding season is in full swing, which probably means a whole lot of meaningful things to people actually getting married, but for the rest of us, the only thing that matters is the open bar. The opportunity to sip from the cup until it literally runneth over is not one that you want to squander, which is why you need a game plan—drinking 10 Amstel Lights for free is not a coup, but rather a wasted opportunity. Your goal should be to identify the absolute best bevvies available, then drink with some sense of purpose beyond escaping your own loneliness.

Before you even tackle the actual beverage selections, though, you need a strategy for making it through the marathon of small talk, toasting, and dancing ahead—and also, to make sure you don't do anything that will draw attention to you as the drunkest moocher at the wedding. "It's important to read the room before deciding whether this is going to be a sloppy wedding or just a fuzzy one," says booze writer and seasoned wedding guest Jordana Rothman. "Take your cues from the bridal party—if the groomsmen and bridesmaids look like they're going in, that's a fair indication that it's safe to exploit the open bar. If they seem to be holding back, you might want to follow their lead—a drink an hour should keep you on terra firma."

Once your general plan of action is in place, you can get down to the matter of figuring out what to drink. Here are some rules to live by.

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