Open Bar question (with poll)

posted 2 years ago in Reception
  • poll: To hire a barman or not?
    Definitely hire a Barman - you don't want to be tacky : (53 votes)
    63 %
    It's fine for people to help themselves : (30 votes)
    36 %
    Other (comment below) : (1 votes)
    1 %
  • Post # 2
    5697 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: August 2012

    It’s easier to have someone back there to control things, but it’s not required when it’s a home wedding and not a ton of people. Maybe just ask someone you know to keep an eye on it, bring out more wine and beer as needed and clean it up a bit?

    Post # 3
    6 posts

    I strongly recommend hiring a licensed bartender to serve drinks at your wedding, as it frees your family from any potential liability that comes with over-serving a guest who may get behind the wheel. 

    If you are having a caterer, they will likely have a couple of bartenders to refer you to. For past parties, we have typically paid a flat fee of $150 per bartender for the night. With only 60 people, it is unlikely you would need more than one bartender.


    Hope this helps!

    Post # 4
    1108 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: March 2014

    Soon2BeMrsCee: I strongly recommend hiring a licensed bartender to serve drinks at your wedding, as it frees your family from any potential liability that comes with over-serving a guest who may get behind the wheel.

    THIS! So much this!! It’s great that you want to have an open bar for your guests, but a good bartender will be able to tell when someone has had enough and can cut them off before they do anything foolish. Even if you think everyone will behave themselves, there is always the possibility that won’t happen. Splurge and get a bartender.

    Post # 5
    9137 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper
    • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

    RoxiB4b3:  For that small of a guest list and you serving mostly beer and wine, there is nothing wrong with putting it out and allowing everyone to serve themselves like they would at any other big party.  Yes, there are potential liability issues but that is with any party where you serve booze so be smart and appoint one or two people you trust who will keep an eye out to take keys and call cabs.  We had 40 guests and a large portion of them drank heavily but they either stumbled back to their hotels which were within walking distance or they had designated drivers.

    Post # 6
    1627 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: September 2010

    Bar tender. The drink area will stay neater with one.

    Post # 7
    1049 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: August 2015

    We are having approx 100 people and are having self service.  We will be offering beer, wine, cider and a punch.  I wouldn’t do self service for mixed drinks such as bourbon and coke because I know as people get more intoxicated, they tend to put more alcohol in (Guilty as charged for me anyway)

    I’m confused as to the liability thing.  It is legal at the property we are hiring for us to have self service as there is no requirement for a liquor license.  If we did have a baretender, they would more than likely serve enough drinks to an individual person where they are legally over the driving limit anyway, even if they aren’t “sloshed”. So what’s the difference?  I trust all my friends and family not to drink and drive, and we’ve provided accomodation in any case.

    Post # 8
    1071 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: October 2014 - Greenbrier Country Club

    Since your not serving anything complicated, I think your good. No need for a bartender. 

    Post # 9
    8680 posts
    Bumble Beekeeper
    • Wedding: October 2014

    We are doing a DIY bar.. and we are running into the same problem. I don’t feel that we need to hire a licensed bartender, but I feel that we do need someone to mix/give out drinks.

    A few of our family members have discussed taking turns at the bar [maybe for like an hour each or something], which is what we plan to do if we can’t find someone reliable to serve drinks.

    I’ve been asking around on facebook, word of mouth and craigslist and haven’t come up with much. I plan to visit a few local bars and ask their bartenders as well.

    Post # 10
    8850 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper
    • Wedding: August 2013 - Rocky Mountains USA

    RoxiB4b3:  we had a self serve bar and it was fine. A few conditions helped ours work out well: only beer and wine so people didn’t get insanely drunk, very chill guests who didnt turn their noses  up at opening bottles of wine etc, and a venue that didn’t have any requirements about a bartender. And we had 165 guests!

    Post # 11
    5162 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: April 2013

    RoxiB4b3:  If your group is roudy, hire a bartender to keep things under control.  If not, I think they’ll be absolutely fine helping themselves.  I went to a wedding recently where there was bottled beer, wine, and cider on offer in a bar where people could help themselves and there were no problems.

    Post # 13
    2065 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: July 2014

    I don’t think it is neccessary for that few guests if you are going for something more informal.  I went to a wedding that did that and it worked fine.  They just served beer and wine.  The beer was in bottles, so a lot of people just grabbed a bottle and went back to their tables.  

    Post # 14
    9526 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper
    • Wedding: August 2013

    So long as the drinks don’t require any mixing, I think you’d be fine to do self-service. Just designate someone to make sure things are stocked and kept clean. 

    There are liability issues any time you invite any guest into your home, for a wedding or a birthday party or for a cup of tea. If someone gets injured on your propery or after having drinks on your property, they can sue. So people take these risks every day. Granted, a wedding has a lot of people, so the risk goes up with the number of people, but it’s not a common issue. We did a backyard wedding and chose not to get a licensed bartender or liability insurance (which you take out on the house in case a guest gets drunk and in an accident) and things turned out fine. Just depends on how you view and react to risk.

    Post # 15
    2798 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: May 2014

    I think hiring a bar tender for those drinks for a small crowd for a home wedding is a bit above and beyond what you need to do, and will probably be a bigger cost and head ache than it is worth. And most likely what ever “liablity” issues there may be will still be on your family because it is still their property.

    Around where I am from, it is not uncommon to hold graduation parties that big, and they still just allow everyone to grab what they want from coolers.

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