Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something brewed.
Eat, drink, and be married.
There are many ways to tweak the typical wedding to make it totally yours.
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Some beer lovers go all out. Mary Izett, author of “Speed Brewing: Techniques and Recipes for Fast-Fermenting Beers, Ciders, Meads, and More,” married Chris Cuzme, co-founder and brewer of Fifth Hammer Brewing in Queens, New York in 2015. Both are collectively decorated members of the New York beer community, co-own their own fermented beverage company, Cuzett Libations, and host a popular podcast, Fuhmentaboudit!.
“We threw a 25-draft beer festival, all brewed in NYC, with a short ceremony in the middle,” Izett says of their nuptials. The event even had a name: Smile Fest. “Tim [Rozmus] from Brooklyn Brewery married us. We got engaged four weeks before at [the Great American Beer Festival], had fresh hops on our cake, and our wedding rings are hose clamps.”
Admittedly, not all brides and grooms can be that awesome. But if you’re beer-obsessed like us, and you’re on your way to getting hitched, look no further than this expert-guided list of ways to have a bona fide beer wedding.
Have It at a Brewery
This one seems obvious to us, because we spend a lot of time at breweries, but having a brewery wedding is still, to our disappointment, a relatively uncommon practice. This is crazy, because breweries provide the perfect setting: They have all the fresh beer you can drink; in many cases, there’s beer-friendly fare; and think of all the good vibes a brewery generally reverberates, only this time, they’re reverberating for you.
Potential settings range from industrial taprooms in city outskirts, to farm breweries in the picturesque countryside. Plenty of breweries around the country have devoted event spaces, so if your local taproom can’t shut down for your event on a weekend, try finding one that openly advertises private events. CraftBeer.com, the editorial arm of the Brewers Association, points to a handful of brewery wedding options across the country, including Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido, California; Stable Craft Brewing at Hermitage Hill Farm in Virginia; Revolution Brewing in Chicago; Night Shift Brewing in Everett, Massachusetts; and Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta.
Brew Your Own Wedding Beer (or Have a Homebrewer Friend Do It)
Another great way to show your love for beer equals your love for your partner is by brewing your own beer. A common, albeit extremely niche, practice among beer nerds is to brew a beer with yarrow, an herb with ancient historical ties to matrimony (and, incidentally, to Pliny the Elder).
Don’t know how to brew? Learn! But on the real, if you’re pressed for time and don’t have a friend who makes beer (beer makes a great wedding gift, by the way), get in touch with your local homebrewers’ guild or club and ask if they can help you find someone to create a custom brew.
Barring That, Bring Your Own Beer
If you can’t find a brewery, beer bar, or gastropub to host your big day, the next best thing is to select a venue that will let you BYOB (hint: look for places without liquor licenses). If that’s not an option, consider sneaking a secret craft cache into your bride and groom suites (or, you know, stashing some cans under your table). You and your guests will appreciate the alternative to the typical Heineken-Bud-Coors wedding venue lineup.
Pregame with Pliny the Elder
Traditionally, pre-wedding rituals (getting dressed, getting photos taken, getting limousined to your venue because it’s your special day) involve dipping into the sparkling wine supply pretty early on. Champagne is great and all, and we certainly have no qualms about popping bottles before noon (quite the contrary). But marathoning wine can be a headache waiting to happen. Break the custom and save up your ABVs by popping some rare beers instead. We suggest treating yourself and your guests to hard-to-find hoppy brews like Pliny the Elder, Heady Topper, or Sip of Sunshine IPAs. Or, you could also keep things casual and sessionable with a case of All Day IPA.
Replace the Champagne Toast With a Bottle of Bubbly (Brew)
Along with bringing rare beers to the party, consider toasting with fancy beer instead of the usual Champs. With their sexy bottles, corks and cages, and Belgian or Champagne yeast strains, many large-format bottled beers (750-milliliter bottles, or “bombers”) bring just as many delicate flavors to the table as a bottle of bubbly.
A few to try include Perennial Artisan Ales Saison de Lis, a Belgian-style saison brewed with chamomile flowers; Transmitter Brewing S8 Rice Saison, brewed with pilsner malt, flaked rice, German hops, and fermented with saison yeast, together yielding a light-bodied fruity brew with notes of melon and spice; or Goose Island Gillian, a Belgian-style farmhouse ale partially aged in wine barrels and imparting aromas and flavors of white pepper, tart strawberry, and honey. (Yes, Goose Island is owned by AB InBev. But their sours and barrel series are really good.)
Or, you know, you could always go with the Champagne of beers, Miller High Life.
Use Hops in Place of Flowers
Did you know hops are flowers? Use them as such! The bright green, bine-climbing cones are as pretty as they are fragrant, and there are many ways to incorporate them into your wedding decor. Florists can create hop bouquets and hop boutonnieres — or you can DIY by ordering hops from Etsy shops like BlackCreekHops, which offers whole-cone hops by the box ($16.50 for 40 flowers), by the bine ($20 for two) or by the boutonniere ($36 for a kit of 10).
Hops strung through a terrace is another idea for making the decor more hoppening, and placing flowers with hops and barley in growlers instead of normal flowers in vases will definitely get you extra creativity points. Even simply scattering hop cones on tables can serve as a simple reminder to guests that you are really serious about this beer thing, but in a fun way.
Another option might be to reach out to local farms (hop farms or otherwise) that may be growing hops for decorative purposes or to sell in small batches to homebrewers. If you’re really lucky and know someone who grows hops for fun, ask them if you can snag a few.
Note: If you’re ordering hop cones, try to do so no sooner than two weeks ahead of the wedding date. They may be dried, but they are still flowers and will wilt or brown. Keep them fresh by storing them in the freezer or refrigerator in the sealed package they arrive in.
Another idea: Hopulate while you copulate with these sleep pillow hops that you can stitch into a pillow?!
Make Your Wedding Favors Beer-Related
There are so many options when it comes to incorporating beer-themed party favors into your wedding, be it your guest book, table display, gift bags, and so on. Personalized koozies, bottle opener key chains, and coasters make excellent favors, as do corn hole games and state-specific Mini Map Six Packs. For something inexpensive and edible, go for hop candy, made from real hops. Another one of our personal favorites we’ve experienced IRL is little first-aid “hangover kits” complete with mints, stain remover wipes, and, most importantly, Advil.
“We wanted something unique, fun, and personal that we could display, rather than a traditional wedding guest book that would accumulate dust on the shelf. We had our guests write their names on blank, colorful beer caps, which we placed in the USA Beer Cap Map,” Kai and Andrea Shiu wrote in an email. “We also had mini Wisconsin Beer Cap Maps with custom beer caps that had images of ourselves and our favorite parts of our hometown as wedding favors. The big map has been hanging in our living room ever since our wedding day, and seeing our friends and family members’ names daily keeps that amazing day top of mind. And friends are always proud to show off their mini map on their refrigerators!”
Make Your Registry Entirely Beer-Related
Registries are becoming obsolete and offensive, as couples tend to live together before getting married these days and don’t really need you to buy themselves glassware, mixing bowls, or bed sheets. But if register you must, at least make it more fun for you and your guests by making everything on your list beer-related. Those Teku glasses you’ve always wanted but will never buy; that Fizzics draft beer system you scoffed at but secretly wanted to try; a quarterly brew-your-own beer club membership from Brooklyn Brew Shop (it ships nationally!); or experiences, like a beer and bike tour, are all excellent options. And way better than a bunch of expensive china you will never use.
Have a Beer and Food Pairing Menu
Of course, you’re going to want to serve food that goes well with the beers you’re serving. Consult your local cicerone, beer nerd friend, or this beer and food pairing guide for ideas that can take your menu to the next level of edible. Your pairing can be as simple as serving Bavarian pretzels and beer cheese alongside German lager during “cocktail” hour; as easy as putting out trays of barbecue with a brown ale; or as sophisticated as a sit-down dinner with multi-course beer pairings.
Some breweries, like Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York, specialize in pairing fine beers with dinner menus at the table, as well as creating dishes with different beers as ingredients. Previous menu items here have included Ommegang Onion Soup, Mussels with Tomato, Onion, and Hennepin Broth, and Three Philosophers Chili.
Serve a dessert stout with the cake, and call it a (wedding) day. Oh, and have your honeymoon in Belgium.