No matter what type of bar you're planning on having at your wedding reception—a full open bar, just specialty cocktails, or only wine and beer—it's important to make sure that this station is looked after throughout the party. Hiring a bartender or team of bartenders to oversee the bar is the best way to avoid long lines, overserved or unhappy guests, and to avoid all of the other pitfalls of a self-serve station. So, if you're on the fence about whether or not you should hire a bartender, consider these points that prove the pro is worth the splurge.
First and foremost, your venue may require one.
Before you do anything else, determine whether or not a bartender is required by your venue. Few properties will even allow self-serve stations, and the majority of wedding venues will ask that you hire a team licensed to serve alcohol on the big day. Even those venues with their own liquor license will need someone on-site distributing drinks to guests. In the event that you're tying the knot on a private property, understand the liability that falls on you if you don't have a bartender or catering team that's licensed to serve.
Bartenders can help with ordering and delivery.
If you hire a bartending company, the team can help you manage your bar order prior to your wedding. They may even have recommendations for purveyors who will take returns of unopened and unchilled bottles following the wedding, which can save you money. Once the wine, beer, and liquor arrives at your wedding reception, your bartenders will be responsible for checking everything in and making sure you're charged appropriately for what's been delivered.
They can be a clean-up crew.
Depending how many bartenders you hire, they may be able to tag team with your caterers to bus cocktail tables and keeping the bar and cocktail area clean and free of empty glasses, dirty napkins, and more. If you can't include more than one bartender with your budget, you'll want to ask the catering team to assign someone to this duty.
As an aside, if you can manage to have at least two bartenders, you'll be much happier with the service provided, as one person can be the runner (i.e. getting ice from the next room or getting used glasses to the dishwasher) while the other manages the bar. Keep in mind that the number of bartenders you'll need varies depending on your guest count and the layout of your venue. There's nothing more frustrating for guests than a wedding where no one can get to the bar because the bartenders can't keep up with the demand.
They can manage the basics.
Water, ice, glassware, and waste all need to be managed by someone, and these items are usually best managed by the bar staff or catering team. If your catering crew has nothing to do with the bar, you'll want to arrange someone to oversee this.
They can make a proper drink.
This may sound obvious, but bartenders know the exact proportions to make a good mixed drink, and they can come up with fun, seasonal craft cocktails, too. If you were thinking you'd have a pre-mixed cocktail guests can serve themselves, just be sure someone's monitoring this, as boozy drinks tend to settle once they sit a while.
They can setup and breakdown the bar.
While a self-serve bar sounds so simple and straightforward, you still need someone overseeing the setup, breakdown, and taking stock throughout the night of what's running low. As well, you need someone making sure there's always clean glassware available. A hired bartender can do all this and you don't even have to think about whether the rental company delivered the right glasses or if you're running low on ice. Leave it all in their very capable hands and your bar will run smoothly, keeping your guests happy and mingling.