Post # 1
I have never been to a wedding that had an open bar – it’s always cash bars, so I have no idea how they are supposed to work.
FI and I are getting married on his parent’s farm, and thought it would be a great gesture to offer an open bar. We will buy a few types of beer, coolers, normal cooldrink and wine.
So here is where my question comes in – is it necessary for us to hire someone to serve the drinks, or would it be adequate that we put the drinks out in coolers with ice water and people help themselves? We’re inviting 60 people, so it’s a small wedding and will be quite informal
Post # 2
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
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
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
- 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
Bar tender. The drink area will stay neater with one.
Post # 7
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
- Wedding: October 2014 - Greenbrier Country Club
Since your not serving anything complicated, I think your good. No need for a bartender.
Post # 9
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
- 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
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 # 12
Thanks for all the feedback ladies. You definitely made me think about some things! I know the people I’m inviting aren’t very rowdy, so self-serve might work. But I think I’ll see how my budget looks closer to the time.
Post # 13
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
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
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.