(Closed) Self-Serve Bar Help Needed :)

posted 6 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
Member
3625 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

The main points you want to consider with a self-serve bar would be 1) efficiency 2) organization and 3) cleanliness. 50 – 75 people is a lot when it comes to one bar, especially when it first opens. We had 70 with one bartender and there was still a line AND we did tray-passed drinks (to cut down on the number of people needing to stand in line) with one signature cocktail, wine and beer.

No offense, but I don’t see having champagne to be particularly efficient since they need to be opened as they go (versus wine, which, in theory, you can open ahead of time and just leave in the cork/stopper). They can also be tricky to open so hopefully, the person opening it knows not to point it at anyone/anything breakable.

In addition, for a signature drink, I would do something that can be made ahead of time, like sangria, in a big beverage dispenser (the pretty glass ones) and people can help themselves. Another option is a mimosa bar or sangria bar, where guests just add one ingredient to another and voila, done! Anything that requires more steps and ingredients will be messy and time-consuming.

It’s not a very pretty solution, but maybe you can serve beers in bottles? I’m sure most people know how to use a bottle opener. Ideally, they would have glasses to pour this in, but that’s not required.

Will your venue even let you do a self-service bar? In our area, we need a liquor license to serve and I’m pretty sure a human being is required in the event you have underaged drinking. I’m slightly less concerned about the very little kids as I am about the teens.

Post # 5
Member
500 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

Yea that is my only concern, alot of places wont allow you to due to the legal issues. I know with our venue we have to have a bartender and a security for each 100 guests. Legally I know here in MN if say a guests leaves our event and drives under the influence we can be the ones in trouble as we provided the alcohol. Its something most people dont even think of, the only reason I do is my coworker was at a wedding were an intoxicated guests in the parking lot got to roudy with another guest leaving him in the ICU at the hospital for the last few weeks…. and the guest doesnt have any money or insurance to cover any of the expenses his actions caused. When they tried to go after the venue since it was there parking lot per the contract they would have to go after the Bride and Groom. Which is why she and I have now looked into Wedding Insurance, this would cover you in the event something like this does happen…. cause no bride wants to stand there in that mess and now possibly have to deal with a lawsuit cause of something like that happening and your liable. Something to take into consideration! 

Post # 6
Member
3943 posts
Honey bee

Ya our venue also had legal restrictions on this.

I guess the best way to do it with this many people is to have those big tubs filled with ice and beers. Maybe ask a friend to keep an eye on them and re-fill when needed.

As for the champagne, I think it would fizzle too fast. They have some really pretty dispensers now that you can fill with sangria or a mixed drink. Just have it clearly marked and up on a table so little kids can’t reach it. Again though you’ll need a friend to re-fill it through the day.

Post # 7
Member
3583 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

We did self-serve for 65 people and it F-I-N-E. Although we were in a campground, not a hall.  So check with your vendor first.

To answer your other Q’s:

You want to find a place to rent a ‘jockey box’.  This is THE BEST way to cool a keg, hands down.  I found a guy in my area and he charged me $55 for an entire week.  It was cray. It comes with a pull tap and everything, super easy to use, and it cools longer than any bucket with ice would. Champagne for B&G needs to be hidden.  I had our bottle out and a guest opened it.  Well, she actually asked and it’s not like I could say ‘no, that is just for us’ because she was our guest and she was so frickin’ excited to see a bottle of champagne.

A specialty cocktail with champ would probably go fat in a pitcher. What you could do is buy a container with a spout (there are tons at save-on-crafts and target) so at least it wouldn’t allow the co2 to escape. I would definitely try to practice that now so you know whether it would work or not.  Maybe rent a container from a rental company overnight and test it.

Kids – we had 15-20 and not one child mistakenly took an alcoholic drink.  We had to containers, one with pineapple infused vodka, and one with fruit infused tequila.  The only goof was my uncle thinking it was lemonade and added water and lemon juice to fill it up.  Darling Husband said it improved the taste – LOL. For the kids, we rented two galvanized tubs and filled them with ice, Izze, capri sun, and soda. It was very clear that that was just for them.

Post # 8
Member
1832 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: January 2013

The first thing you need to confirm is if your venue will allow self service. I would keep it simple if they do allow it. Think of the fastest way for each guest to get their drink with the least amount of mess, so you don’t have a HUGE line. Maybe boxes of wine, they have spouts, kegs of beer would work great but have more than one. A signature drink is the tricky one, you could do large punch bowls with laddles, serve something easy like vodka and oj since you don’t have to worry about carbination issues. Have picthers of it made up in advance in the refrigerator, and refill the punch bowls as they are empty, this way the drinks stay cold.

There is also the option of asking a bartender at a local bar you frequent alot to man the bar. See what they would charge you as a flat rate for 5 hours, and have a tip jar on the bar. Then maybe you can have bottled beer and wine. Good luck.

Post # 9
Member
3625 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

@MissXray:  This is a VERY VERY VERY good point re: liability/drunk driving.

This is why most venues/caterers require a bartender (and not just Cousin Larry acting as a bartender). This person is trained to recognize signs that someone should stop drinking and will stop serving that person. When you do self-serve, then there’s technically no one to stop Aunt Mary from getting sloshed off her rockers and then driving home. This is why many caterers have insurance policies and why many venues (including ours) require event insurance. This is to cover you in the event that someone leaves your event and get injured/injures someone else. The insurance can just be a rider on your home or car policy, or you can pull out a separate policy just for this. Even if your drunk guest has insurance and gets sued, the injured party/victims can still sue you because you supplied the alcohol. I’m not saying that your guests have drinking problems, but it’s better to be safe (and covered) than sorry.

FWIW, we have parties where guests just help themselves from coolers too. However, that’s not a wedding and I’m assuming you didn’t have parties with this many people. I’m assuming your wedding is not as casual as a house party or a BBQ. Plus, this works at a party because you don’t have all your guests trying to grab a drink at the same time. At a wedding, people usually all swarm the bar the moment the cocktail hour/reception starts and that’s what causes a backup.

I think it’s okay to have a free-standing champagne bucket for just you and Darling Husband. I don’t like having a bucket directly on the table (I’m assuming you are doing a sweethearts table) bc 1) it’s not pretty and 2) the condensation from the cold bucket will get your table all wet.

ETA: Event liability insurance isn’t that much, I think – although everything is relative to your budget. If you do a Google search, some start at $75 and provide at least $1M in coverage.

Post # 11
Member
3583 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

Awesome! Feel free to PM me any other questions about mine since they’re pretty much the same event. πŸ™‚

Post # 12
Member
3265 posts
Sugar bee

You have already gotten a lot of good ideas about the self serve, so I won’t comment on that. 

I just wanted to comment on you and your hubs having something that is not offered to the rest of the guests.  That is rude, and will definitely rub people the wrong way.  You either have something that you offer to everyone, or you don’t have it. 

You don’t eat Lobster while your guests are eating cheese and crackers, same goes for drinks.

Everyone gets the same treatment.

Post # 15
Member
3265 posts
Sugar bee

@ohulani:  The it’s my day doesn’t really apply in this situation though, because if you didn’t care about your guests then you wouldn’t be hosting a party.  You would have a private party where you could do whatever you wanted.  In chosing to host a party, you can’t just do whatever you want.

Well you can’, but you will make people feel bad, which seems a bad way to start a new family.

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