Photo by Erin Wilson Photography.
Everyone at a wedding or event is there to have a good time together. With that being said, there are some things to consider in regards to your bar and bartending service. Vibrant Occasions always strives to give event hosts and guests the most professional service possible. To accomplish that, we do our best to train our staff on bar safety, laws, tips and etiquette. Use our handy dandy guide for the most up-to-date information on keeping the health, well-being and quality of service for your bar operations at the highest level.
- The paperwork – Most venues will require a bartender working in their space to be licensed and insured. Having qualified bartenders not only allows all the attendees to focus on the fun, it also keeps everyone safer during the festivities and after. Some venues require the hosts of an event to obtain event insurance for the day. Even without this requirement, it is recommended to do so. There are many event insurance companies out there like The Event Helper, which will cover you in case of many unexpected scenarios.
- Venue rules – Before you make any plans or purchases for the bar, have a conversation with the venue to find out their rules. Most venues have parameters on the type of alcohol that can be served and the requirements about who qualifies as a bartender. Many venues limit the number of hours alcohol can be served, so if you are planning to have a pre-ceremony champagne mingle or cocktail hour before the reception begins, make sure to include that time in your overall “alcohol serving time” according to your venue’s rules and adjust accordingly. Most venues will also require you to hire security for your event when alcohol is served.
- Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (“ABC”) – Vibrant Occasions follows all rules and regulations set forth by the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (“ABC”) and also follows all local and state laws and regulations regarding the serving of alcoholic beverages. Our clients agree at the time of booking that neither the client, client’s guests, invitees, vendors, contractors, subcontractors, or agents will request that our staff violate any laws or regulations regarding the service of alcoholic beverages and that if our staff receives such requests, we reserve the right to immediately terminate the contract (including the day of the event) at our sole discretion. We ask that our clients remember that this is our livelihood and while we want all of our clients and their guests to have a lovely time, we cannot break the law for anyone and risk losing our business.
- Budget – The first task when planning your event’s bar is to set a bar budget. Many hosts lump food and drink into one line item, but the bar should have its own budget. One budget-saving tip is to forgo the champagne toast, let guests toast with what they are already drinking. This saves not only on champagne costs but also the rental cost of the flutes, as well.
- Purchasing calculations – Figuring out how much alcohol, wine and beer to order is a big question for most event hosts. No one wants to overbuy and have to eat the cost of unused product, but you also do not want to run out of drinks mid event. Some liquor stores will allow returns in the form of store credit, so keep that in mind when shopping. The general rule is that each guest will consume one drink per hour at the reception. Some guests might drink more, some might drink less, but that general guideline provides a good, average starting point. If you are hosting your event at a venue where you can purchase your own alcohol, here is a handy online calculator to help determine how much alcohol should be ordered. Calculators can be a little off, so it is best to always ask your bartending team to help with final numbers.
- Signs of intoxication – You will want a bartending team that has the experience and training to understand how to handle all aspects of serving your guests. Not a fun topic, but anytime a bartender has to cut someone off, and especially at an event, our team keeps it as matter-of-fact as possible. We’re just doing our job. It’s not really our call – we cannot serve them if they’ve reached their limit or the next drink will push them over the edge. It’s the law.
- Abuse clause in vendor contracts – It should go without saying, but any form of abuse, verbal or otherwise, toward a vendor is a big no-no. You are responsible for your guests’ behavior. Most vendors have an abuse clause in their contract to protect themselves in this eventuality. For example, if Uncle Joe gets a temper after he’s been drinking and starts yelling at one of your vendors, you’re held liable for those actions. It’s also extremely important that you make sure your guests and family members know to respect your vendors. Because again, if guests or family members abuse the abuse clause, it sadly falls back on you and your vendors have the right to leave your wedding or event.
- Minors – Persons under 21 are not allowed to consume alcohol in the state of Arkansas. Underage drinking is dangerous, and it is also against the law. When in doubt, bartenders are trained to ask for ID.
- Open bar – We totally understand that weddings and events are expensive! However, correct etiquette states that guests shouldn’t have to pay for anything at your wedding, including their drinks. Etiquette aside, an open bar will ensure your event flows smoothly, without any awkwardness or interruption.
- Open bars are marathons, not sprints – The evening is young and the bartender is not going anywhere. A good bar host will encourage guests to pace themselves.
- Don’t overstay your welcome – This tip is for event guests. When the party is winding down but your buzz is still going strong, avoid the urge to take over DJ duty. It’s time to call it quits. As the old saying goes, you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.