I've been debating doing a self-serve bar or not. Our venue allows us to bring our own liquor (and doesn't require a bartender to serve) so we've started buying lovely wines when they go on sale (there will be 3 wine options and a big 3 gallon dispenser of sangria). We've pretty much taken care of what we want for available liquor and will be bringing it to the venue ourselves...but do I hire a bartender? They seem to go for around $25/hr plus tips, and I'm not really sure it's worth the extra expense...so I'm torn. Some part of me feels like people would prefer to serve themselves...
Two more details, I DEFINITELY plan on having wine bottles available on each table right at the start of the meal (one red and one white). AND we'll have re-usable mason jars available, and the beer will be bottled.
Would you prefer to serve yourself alcohol? Or have a bartender do it? It's free either way.
If I did a self-serve bar I plan on trying to make it as adaorably cute as Mrs. Fox's bar area.
I think it really depends on the drinks offered. If it's just wine, beer, and pre-made signature drinks then self-serve is fine. But if you are having a variety of liquor and mixes, then I think you def need a bartender.
@stargurl101: It's wine, beer, and 2 pre-made mixed drinks in dispensers.
Will there be other servers cleaning up the area? As in removing empty bottles, etc? I have a big house party for 75 every year and I always have a self serve bar, but it gets messy! I'm always straightening napkins and cleaning spills.
I think it depends on what kind of feel your wedding has and of course how many guests you have.
Personally I would prefer a bartender, but I wouldn't be outraged or anything if there was a self serve bar. Especially if the wedding is pretty casual/rustic.
I agree with BuffaloDots, that you'll need at least one server to cover the bar area. Someone needs to get rid of the empties, and I'm guessing you're not going to put ALL the beer bottles out at once. Plus putting out extra glasses, etc.
I say pass on the bartender! I paid for a bartender and we had keg beer and wine. Honestly, it was a waste of money to have the bartender. By the end of the night the kegs were pulled out and everyone was self serving anyway. However, that fit the "vibe" of our wedding. It was laid back and relaxed. If you are having a more black tie, fancey seated dinner then the bartender might be a better fit for you.
ok then ya, I'd pass on the bar tender. If guest don't actually have to mix their own drinks then I think you're good to go!!
I think I would prefer to have a bartender for a wedding, I feel self-serve would be better for a more casual event or party
I voted to pass on the bartender, since your guests won't have to mix drinks. I prefer to pour my own wine, no need to pay someone to do that!
I'd have the bartender - even if you had one for 6 hours with tip it would only be around $200. It's a nice touch for a very small amount of money.
ETA: I don't know if you'll be having anyone underage at your wedding, but I wouldn't want to deal with that if you are. Also, bartenders are trained to cut people off if they're drinking too much - you don't want to be liable if something happens to anyone who's been drinking too much.
You will need someone to refil the jugs, mop up spills, put out more glasses, put out more beers, etc.
Self serve gets messy very quickly. People leave cups and bottles around, and spills happen often.
As long as the alcohol is pre-portioned i think this is fine.
Where I live this is illegal in a public venue - alcohol must be served by someone who has taken a serving course and if there are more than 25 people the door needs security. You might want to just check the liquor licensing rules.
I'd love it as a guest but think it could be a headache. And I was just coming to comment on liability as well, which I see a previous poster mentioned. Make sure you check into that. Even if it is allowed, you may need to pick up some dram shop insurance.
..once a bartender, always a bartender....I cannot tell you how many functions I have attended with a self serve bar, only to find myself behind the thing slinging drinks like the old days for everyone's amusement and libation....not that I mind, it's something I always loved doing...I would imagine someone will keep an eye on the thing for you, out of habit...I would.
I wouldn't mind the self-serve at all. If people had to mix drinks that would get a bit more difficult, but since everything is pre-done you're fine. Just as long as you have someone to keep an eye on it to refill and occasionally put some more bottles out. Depending on the size of your wedding this could easily be done by a trusted and willing friend, family member, or yourself. If it's a very large group or you're going for a super formal feel, then perhaps the bartender would be a good idea.
We are planning to do the same thing as you: beer, wine, and some pre-made drinks in dispensers (maybe some whiskey for the guys), so I think it's a great idea! ;)
I like the idea of the dispensers with pre-made drinks because I don't think girls really like making their own drinks and are really indecisive about what they want if given too many "open" options. At least, I know I'm like that at bars! LOL!
Plus, the drink dispensers help control how much alcohol content is in the mixed drinks. On the other hand, not having a bartender makes it tricky to make sure people don't drink too much, so you have to know your guests and determine whether they will be responsible enough to stop drinking.
BTW, totally love your picture ideas! Too cute!
As others have mentioned I would check on your liability. You could be liable if your guests have an accident on the way home and are found to be over the drink/drive limit. A lot of countries/states have responsible serving of alcohol regulations that you need to abide by as the host of the event.
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