Wedding Crashers: How you can help prevent your wedding guests drink driving the morning after

Published by Claire Gould on

This scares me: one in six wedding guests admits to drink driving the morning after the big day. And we’re not talking about it enough.

Direct Line in collaboration with luxury wedding planner Mark Niemierko have launched a campaign to educate couples and wedding guests about drink driving after weddings. With around 220,000 marriages a year in England and Wales, and an average of 80 guests at each one, that suggests over a million journeys are made by a driver who could be over the limit, the day after a wedding.

Talking about the campaign, Mark Niemierko 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.”

a car crashes into a giant wedding cake at Blenheim Palace

I’d love to see this as a poster on the doors in the loos of every wedding venue around the country! Source: Direct Line / Mark Niemierko

  • Almost a third (29 per cent) of people reveal they consume 16 alcoholic drinks or more at a wedding
  • One in six guests admit to driving the morning after a wedding when they could still be over the limit
  • Wedding bar bills typically run upwards of £3,710 based on 100 guests, with the average guest consuming nine drinks
  • Celebrity wedding planner, Mark Niemierko, offers tips for responsible drinking at the celebration

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 blood 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 allowance. A fifth (20 per cent) of men drink over half of their recommended daily calorie allowance in beer at a wedding, over five drinks.

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 stilldrove 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 causes.”

Dr Koechling continues, “Research indicates drivers mistakenly believe themselves fit to drive when their blood alcohol concentration reaches dangerous levels. 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

1. Location, Location, Logistics: When considering the location of your wedding, think about how guests will get from A to B. Planning for a city wedding can be easier as guests can either hail their own cab or order in advance, but there’s a lot more to consider if your wedding is in a remote countryside location – such as transport to and from the hotel to celebrations. Pre-organise transport or include information on your invitations, so no guests are driving themselves after indulging at the wedding bar the night before.

2. Safe transport is key: Shockingly, 24% of men are likely to drive while over the drink driving limit, the morning after a wedding. To avoid this and the hassle of guests finding their own transport, 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 a door man at the entrance and exit of your wedding venue to ensure they get into their taxi’s safely – this can also ensure a smooth flowing exit from the celebrations.

3. Avoid overindulgence: Weddings can easily encourage guests to drink more than any other social event, with there often being too many options on offer at the bar. In fact, a whopping 44% of Brits consume 11 or more drinks at a wedding. To 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 reception in particular, avoid drinks being pre-poured too often!

4. Don’t start too early: The key to managing the amount that your guests booze, 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: Like all living things, your guests need to stay hydrated, especially at an event like a wedding. I like to ensure there is a water glass at each place setting, that is consistently topped up by waiters throughout the evening – this can also make up for the water that is lost when drinking alcohol.

6. Tea and coffee station: Including a variety of tea and coffee options at your wedding creates a fun talking point, as you don’t see it too often and you really can be creative in the way you present them. Present your beverages on a lovely tea trolley, or at their own station, for a refreshing brew throughout the evening.

7. Marriage mocktails: Cater for all by considering alcohol-free options, like alcohol free gin or a refreshing mocktail. One health focused couple I worked with even served a green shot as their amuse bouche, with a side of vitamins! Elderflower based mocktails go down a treat, as well as a berry mix over crushed ice if it’s a hot summer’s day.

8. Service is key: Make sure the serving of drinks is controlled, by having a serviced bar or table service, so there is a limit on the pouring and guests are less likely to over-do it. This can also help limit the 70% of men that actually drink over their weekly recommended unit allowance at a wedding!

9. Recovery Packs: After a wedding, there’s nothing quite like returning to your hotel room – and adding light touches for your guests to come back to after an evening of dancing can be heart-warming. Opt for a healthy revitalising recovery pack, perhaps stocked with Vitamin C, flavored water or juices, coupled with a thank you note to show your appreciation. Not only is this a nice send-off for guests, but can make sure they feel revitalised before their drive home the next day.

Campaign credit

Direct Line’s drink driving campaign aims to promote safer roads by encouraging people to rise responsibly, urging Brits to avoid taking to the roads over the limit, the morning after a wedding. Find out more at Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Mark Niemierko is widely regarded as Britain’s premier high-end social event and wedding planner, arranging weddings for high society couples from all over the world. He has planned Julia and James Corden’s Babington House nuptials, as well as both Rochelle and Marvin Humes’ original Blenheim Palace wedding in 2012, and their 10th anniversary renewal of vows in Lake Como in 2022. He has also overseen weddings with Royalty in attendance, such as Prince Harry.

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.


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