(Closed) Serving Alcohol

posted 7 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
612 posts
Busy bee

I don’t know how it works in the States but I just looked into obtaining a liquor license in my province and it costs $11 if you’re gonna give the alcohol away for free, and $22 if you’re going to charge people for it. It also has restrictions on things like “one sober person must be responsible for serving the alcohol at all times.” The license only needs to be applied for a week before the event, too. I found this all by searching my government website so perhaps you can do the same, if you haven’t already!

Post # 4
6998 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: February 2011

No idea about the liquor laws but if you are looking for reasonable priced alcohol i would go to trader joes! my SIL did this and ended up having several cases of wine left over that she was able to return.

Post # 5
117 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I’m pretty sure if you’re giving it away – you do not need a liquor license, but if you’re selling it, it’s a COMPLETELY different animal. I’d definitely call the caterer and see if they can provide a bartender + let you use theirs.

Post # 6
13014 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

It is very common for caterers to carry liquor licenses.  You generally need to hire bartenders through them to serve the alcohol, which covers you and doesn’t violate their insurance policy because they are serving (and they can determine when to cut people off if needed). 

If your caterer doesn’t, your state may offer a One-Day liquor license for an event.  I live in the DC area, and I know we are able to get a temporary one day license to serve alcohol at any private event.  It costs from $150 (beer/wine) to $300 (liquor/beer/wine); DC tends to be more expensive than basically everywhere else, so I bet if Wisconsin does it, it would be a slightly less expensive.

Check out buying your wine from Costco or some wholesaler like that, and look for liquor wholesale distributors to buy any liquor at if you decide not to do a cash bar.

Edited to add:  We are supplying all of our own alcohol.  Our caterer has the liquor license.  Even though we are not charging, a liquor license is still required, as are bartenders.  I don’t think giving away or selling makes any sort of difference; the liability has to fall on someone, and that’s what the liquor license is for.

Post # 7
69 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

Check with your state government! There will likely be all sorts of tiny bureaucratic details so just go straight to them to get the facts.

In my province the rules are quite strict, there are even minimum drink prices if you’re selling it and they have to inspect sites that aren’t already on their approved list.

Post # 8
5273 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2009

Honestly, it is much smoother & easier to hire a bartender (typically you can hire a bartender through your caterer)

Also, we did a beer & wine only bar, and it was very affordable w/o having to worry about the logistics of a cash bar, not to mention off put guests.

Post # 9
2999 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

It varies. The caterer may have one but you may need one for yourself. As an insurance agent (not being pushy or saying it would), but in the case something happens the liability falls back to whomever has the license in their name. You will need to buy insurance for this because the barn owner will not cover it. A couple options would be Travelers wedding insurance with liquor liability or a temporary event policy. You should be able to get a policy covering your liability for $100-300 depending on the rate and state law. Before you get it, definitely check with an agent in your state! A major claim is not the way to start ones happy marriage!

Post # 10
548 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

I dont know how it is where you are but i live in California and it was rather difficult to get a liquor license and we also wanted to do a cash bar too. (we also go married on someone property not a typical venue)

To avoid all the hassle and money to get a lisnece we put up a sign and asked for a “donation of $2 per beverage” at the bar. We ended up getting like $300+ back which was close to half of what we spent on all the alcohol and sodas

If it is difficult for you too, that may be an option, to ask for a donation.


Post # 11
4485 posts
Honey bee

If the caterer is serving the liquor. they will have a license. If you go through a bartending business, they will have a license as well. I wouldn’t do any of that yourself for liability reasons.

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