Wedding Venues

The Wedding Venue industry has exploded in Oklahoma over the past few years. In the past, most weddings took place in churches. Now, according to The Knot, 98% of all wedding receptions take place at a venue other than a church. This has created the potential for drivers to leave the reception after having too much to drink. This is what happened to Marissa. She was killed when a wedding attendee was allowed to drink at a venue unchecked for over 8 hours. His BAC was still over twice the legal limit nearly three hours after the collision. He left the reception with a beer in each hand and walked out to his car in full view of the “security guard” and employees and guests. Open containers of alcohol from the reception were found in his car.

A civil suit was immediately brought against the bartending company for overserving and the venue for negligence. While the case against the bartender is fairly straight forward due to the OK Supreme Court decision in Brigance, getting to trial to prove negligence against the venue has been another matter. After two years in the court system, and just three weeks before the trial, the judge granted summary judgement for the venue finding that no duty currently exists under common law. An appeal has been filed with the Supreme Court of Oklahoma.

We have met with the ABLE Commission and with our State Senator and House Representative. Our hope is to help create legislation that will require safeguards to be implemented to prevent drivers from leaving receptions drunk. We have learned that most, if not all, venues have rules and plans in place to reduce the risk of a tragedy like this, but often they are not implemented out of a concern that they will receive unfavorable online reviews or a reputation which may negatively impact future business for them.

UPDATE: The Marissa Murrow Act was approved by the OK Senate on March 21st, 2023. Read the full press release here:

UPDATE: Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has endorsed SB 1057. Read or download their full statement below.