Do I really need a professional bartender?
And are there any good bartender for hire out there?
So much thought is given to what the bride and her bridal party will be wearing, what the flowers will look like, what food will be available at the reception, what music will be playing and on and on down to the last detail. After all, it is usually a woman’s most precious celebration and everything needs to be perfect.
With all the planning and even when utilizing the help of a wedding or event planner, choosing the appropriate staff can sometimes be an after thought or even delegated to the caterer or people you don’t know you well or know what your expectations are.
In reality, although all of the details are important, what you and your guests will probably remember most (besides your gown or your beautiful wedding cake) are the people who helped out during various aspects of the reception: the caterers staff, the DJ or band and last but not least the bartenders. the bartender for hire are the ones you choose.
Why is selecting the bartender important? There are many reasons. After years of bartending at all types of events, private and corporate, wedding showers and receptions, etc. I have come to appreciate why an experienced bartender for hire can make or break an event.
First there is the issue of service. A good bartender can make drinks and serve beverages. But an EXCELLENT one can make the guest have fun and enjoy themselves even while waiting in often long lines right after the service ends to get something to drink. An experienced bartender will also make each guest feel as special as the bridal party while working to avoid potential problems.
At almost every wedding, there’s always at least one or two guests who seem to feel it is their goal to drink as much “free” booze as they possibly can. Sometimes it’s innocent and just the result of the festive atmosphere. Other times it can be someone who is bored, not a close friend or relative (the occasional weddig “crasher”) or even someone who will make a scene and attempt to upstage the bride and groom.
In any case, it is the bartender’s role to do everything in his/her control to see to it that this type of guest doesn’t steal the day or worse cause embarrassment or worse to themself or others. One way is to monitor those who seem to be over indulging and either reduce the quantity of alcohol in each successive drink (often they don’t even realize this) or to reduce the size of the beverage pours. In extreme cases, you might have to offer a non-alcoholic option or if the problem persists ask a pre-determined family member (often the brides father, brother or someone who is responsible and/or hosting the event) to quietly get the person aside and remind him or her–yes, it happens as often with women who may not have eaten to get into that special dress and not realize they are getting “tipsy” as with male drinkers–that they’ve had enough and need to eat solid food or take a break.
Another is to make sure you have plenty of water available both on the tables as well as at the bar to help offset the effect of alcohol consumption. Although many people are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of drinking and driving and have a designated driver, all you need are one or two who do not to create a problem. I recommend having tubs of bottled water for guests to take along as well as offer near the end of a reception to assist those who may have had a bit too much to drink.
Second is the issue of liability. There are two areas here. First, the host can be legally liable for anyone who drinks on private property and goes on to drive or otherwise commit a crime while under the influence. Laws vary by state, but regardless the last thing you want to deal with is an accident or even death caused by someone drinking too much at your event.
Even if it doesn’t come to something that severe, people who drink too much can react quite differently than normal. Some become mellow and even fall asleep while others become unusually aggressive leading to likely confrontations and even fighting. In either case, even if the authorities are not involved, scenes like these can result in ruined receptions, hard feelings and broken relationships or even property damage and civil law suits. An important and frequently overlooked role of the bartender is to monitor all the guests and work to ensure these types of scenarios do not occur and if they begin to surface are dealt with professionally and without disrupting the event.
So whether you’re planning your wedding reception, holiday cocktail party or a company sponsored event where alcohol will be served, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1) Talk with your wedding planner and caterer as well as friends and family who have used bartenders and get their recommendations on who they used: how was the service? were there any problem guests and if so how was it handled? What were the guests comments on the service?
2) Meet with prospective bartenders face-to-face if at all possible to discuss their experience, your specific event requirements and beverage service and any potential “problem” guests that will be attending and how to handle them including who to look for if someone gets out of line.
3) Discuss the details including what will be served, what size stemware/barware will be utilized and who will have access to serving alcohol before, during and immediately after the bartenders service. Often after the “formal” event draws to an end, unwitting hosts find the beer keg or remaining alcohol is being “free poured” by bridal guests leading to problems. Most brides decide not to serve any alcohol before the ceremony which can lead to disruptions and unruly behavior just at the most inopportune moment during your ceremony.
4) Plan on how to get guests to and from the reception especially those who are coming in from out of town and will be staying over. These guests who may not regularly get to party with the bride and groom, can often over indulge and not be able to drive safely to their lodging. You should consider renting a bus or having designated drivers available to take guests to their home or lodging to avoid potentially devastating problems.
5) Most important, hire a professional bartender that has the experience in dealing with a wide variety of situations often unique to private parties and receptions where there is no “bouncer” to deal with those who have had too much to drink.
By doing your homework, asking the right questions and hiring an experienced bartender you will avoid embarrassing guests and potentially an expensive and potentially dangerous legal issue at what should be one of the happiest days of your life.
Submitted by Bob Urich
Bartender Specialties San Francisco BayArea