Food and drinks, how different can they be?
Not so different for the consumer, but dealing with the vendor providing drinks can be a different animal when it comes to alcohol. In this blog post, I want to outline some important details that you should be aware of if you're planning to serve alcohol at your wedding, discuss alcohol purchasing quantities for those not going through their bartender, and define the different types of bar options that you have to choose from.
Let's get down to it!
Things to Keep in Mind
- Bartenders have to have a license in order to legally serve alcohol. Qualified bartenders are also trained in how to safely serve guests. Specifically, they know when to dilute drinks for guests who frequent the bar too often to be safe, and how to refuse drinks to certain guests altogether. This can be pivotal to the success of your wedding if you have an open bar with guests who may abuse the luxury.
- If you are hosting an outdoor reception, your bartender may need to provide a portable bar (depending on the venue's set up) that may include generators, refrigeration units, glasses, and all other items needed to serve guests--not to mention the alcohol!
- Make sure, before signing a contract with your bartender, that you see proof of the bartender's license and other credentials. If you don't see this in the contract, ask for it. If he won't provide any evidence that he is licensed, DO NOT HIRE HIM.
- In the contract your bartender provides, make sure all working hours, corkage fees, overtime fees, and bartender's hourly wages are specified. Who provides the alcohol and exactly what drinks are to be served should also be written out clearly In the contract. No technical details that you agree to should be excluded from the contract.
- Often, couples will serve one or two "Signature" cocktails at their wedding. These can be the favorite drinks of the bride and groom, and are a good personal touch.
- If there is to be a toast, non-alcoholic drinks should also be provided for those who cannot or choose not to drink.
- Consider providing non-alcoholic drinks free of charge, even if your guests must pay for all alcoholic drinks. This encourages guests to drink responsibly.
- If you choose to provide the alcohol for your own wedding, you may save money despite corkage fees! Buying wholesale can get you significant discounts, and any unopened bottles can often be refunded.
- Keep in mind that as the hosts of a wedding, whether at home or at a venue, the bride and groom are legally responsible for the well-being of their guests. It is their responsibility to ensure that no underage drinking take place, that no one drinks and then drives, and that everyone gets home safely after the wedding. If anything happens, it is possible that the couple will be fined or taken to court! Serve responsibly!
- That's another reason why having a professional bartender at your wedding is a great idea! They are professionally trained to avoid over-serving alcohol to any one person. However, if you have multiple bartenders, keep in mind that some guests can avoid notice until too late.
- It is a good idea to provide some sort of transportation from the venue in order to ensure that guests who cannot drive safely are not stranded. Having a taxi company on standby, or providing a shuttle service are good options.
Alcohol Proportions for Every Hundred Guests
These proportions should be considered suggestions to be discussed with your bartenders before making any large purchases! If you're only serving specific alcohol, only invest in those types!
Red Wine: 8 Bottles
White Wine: 9 Bottles
Beer: 2 Cases (24 bottles each)
Whiskey: 1-2 Liters
Bourbon: 1-2 Liters
Gin: 2 Liters
Scotch: 3 Liters
Light Run: 2 Liters
Vodka: 6 Liters
Taquila: 1 Liter
Champagne: 9 Bottles
Dry Vermouth: 2 Bottles
Sweet Vermouth: 2 Bottles
Types of Bar Options
Open bars serve an unlimited amount of drinks to guests, free of charge.
Limited Open Bar
This option serves free drinks to guests for the first few hours of the cocktail hour and reception. After a cut-off point, such as the end of dinner, the bar starts to charge for drinks.
This method of bar service is becoming more common--it has the limit on the amount of alcohol served rather than the amount of time it can be served in. For instance, if the couple is providing their own alcohol for their wedding, their bartender may serve the couple's alcohol free until it has run out, and then will charge for drinks once he begins using his own bar's supply.
Cash Bar with Mealtime Drinks Provided
The couple provides meal time drinks--such as wine--free of charge, but any cocktail hour or post-meal drinks must be paid for by the guests.
Cash Bar with Drink Tickets
This option is dated and has dealt with a great deal of controversy between those who feel it is tacky vs. a great way to save money. In my opinion, it is both. Wedding's are not circuses that should require Admit One tickets... Drink tickets communicate to your guests that they are worth a limited expense; they are also very impersonal. Would it be weird to invite your guests to dinner and hand them drink tickets at the door? Would you be comfortable accepting "payment" for their drinks throughout your dinner and then cutting them off once they run out? If it's weird at a dinner party, it's weird, and even insulting, at a wedding. Don't choose this option!
Full Cash Bar
This option requires guests to pay for all drinks during the wedding.
If there is a toast during the wedding, Champagne is often offered free to guests.
This is an uncommon option, sometimes found at religious weddings that prefer to serve no alcohol. Dry weddings have no bar and serve only non-alcoholic drinks.
Whatever option you choose--remember that weddings are a time not only to honor the happy couple, but to appreciate the guests' many important roles in the bride and groom's lives. Taking care to show that they are appreciated at the wedding by offering them quality food and drink is one huge way to do this!