10 Questions to Ask | Bartender

September 3, 2020

So many of my couples tell me that having a party to celebrate with their friends and family (when it’s not covid times) is important to them! One element to a good party is tasty drinks and someone to safely manage them!

Today Jane, from Embrace the Grape Beverage Catering, to help us learn the best questions to ask when picking the perfect bartender for your wedding! Jane is such an amazing human, and has been a great partner for many projects over the years. Also, she makes a damn good drink!

10 Questions to Ask When Booking Your Wedding Bartender

1 | What are the pros and cons of a catered bar vs a DIY bar?

Oh boy, that’s kind of a can of worms!  DIY will be less expensive, but much more time consuming.  You will have to contract a retailer AND a bartender as well as figure out how your bar inventory will get to your venue and who is in charge of taking the leftovers out at the end of the night and what to do with the extra product…and…and…and…  When you hire a liquor licensed caterer, you (or your planner) work out the details ahead of time.  Then you sit back (worry free) and let professionals execute the bar while you enjoy your guests.  It costs a little more, but it is worth it!  A caterer will also carry liquor liability insurance to protect them, but also the event in general.

2 |  How important is it for my bar service to have a liquor license?

A liquor license is required to sell alcohol, so someone in the process has to have a one!  If you are going to a retailer to buy your beverages, then hiring a bartender, the retailer has the liquor license.  In this case, the bartender cannot pay for your beverages and have you reimburse them.  That’s simply not legal.  The client has to pay for the alcohol, to the licensee directly.  If you hire a full service beverage caterer, they have the liquor license and can sell and serve alcohol to your guests.  The last point here is that if you’d like to have a cash bar, or sell tickets to your event, you MUST have a caterer with a liquor license.

3 | What is a signature drink?

I thought you’d never ask!  It’s anything you want it to be. Usually it has a hard alcohol in it (vodka, rum…) and matches the theme color of your wedding. Very often, the signature drink is the only hard alcohol offered at a reception.

4 | How do I know what to put in the bar?

Your vendor will help with that. Usually a couple types of beer and two or three kinds of wine are a good start. From there, decide if you’d like hard alcohol and in what quantities. It’s all about you and what your vision for the evening is.

5 | What should I offer besides wine, beer and mixed drinks?

Always appreciate the designated driver with pop, lemonade or a mocktail. Also, be sure to have bottled water people can grab on their way out the door.

6 | I’ve heard the recommendation of one drink per person per hour? That seems like a lot. Is it?

Yeah. It’s too much 99% of the time. Most of the beverages will be consumed in the first half of the evening. Then as the crowd thins out so does the consumption. That’s a good thing.  However, we have certainly had wedding receptions go above and beyond in consumption.  So, that rule of thumb is a “just in case” rule.

7 | What happens if we run out of alcohol?

It happens and each bar service has their own policy on this.  Definitely ask the question when doing your research because it can really dull a great party if all the beer is consumed in the first couple of hours. 

8 | I want to make sure everyone has their favorite drink at my wedding.  Can you do that?

Well, anything is possible, but what you’re asking for is a nightmare for the bartenders serving your guests.  At large events, it’s best to have a simple offering of beverages which appeal to the masses.  Your guests will find something they like on a well constructed menu of 3-4 beers, 3-4 wines and 6-8 liquors.  Also, the larger the event, the simpler the bar should be.

9 | Money is tight. Is a cash bar taboo?

Absolutely not. A growing trend is to host the beer and wine, but offer mixed drinks for cash. A “liquor licensed” company can offer this option so make sure you ask. We often do cash bars at weddings. It can make sense for many reasons, like wanting to slow down a heavy drinking crowd, or keeping your budget in line.

10 | It’s okay for my guests to BYOB, right?

It really isn’t. If the bartender is charged with carding your guests and cutting off consumption if necessary, bringing in a “little brown bag” is counter productive. This isn’t a house party. It’s your wedding!  Of course there are also liability issues, and laws against “self service” in Kansas City, all of which make BYOB a bad idea.

For those out there who are engaged or married…what questions did you ask (or wish you would have asked) your wedding bartender?  I’d love to hear other questions that you found to be helpful while picking the perfect bartender!

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10 Questions to ask when booking wedding bartender. Spencer Studios. Kansas City Wedding Photographer.


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