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Wedding planning can be daunting, and when it comes to finding and hiring wedding bartenders, it’s no different. The reception is one of the biggest wedding expenses, and keeping guests and the bridal party happy with beer, wine and drinks is usually high on the priority list. Finding the right bartender for your wedding depends on many factors like – the size of your wedding, state liquor laws, your budget and the wedding theme. Generally speaking, there are some pretty standard guidelines for hiring wedding bartenders.

This article is written by Courtney Smith, Co-Owner and Founder of Chesapeake Bartenders, based in Maryland. 

What kind of bar service do you want at your wedding?

Talk to your significant other about what kind of alcohol service they envision. Do you both love craft beer? Do you have a favorite shot? Does the groom love Skrewball whiskey because it reminds him of you? Will there be signature wedding drinks? An ongoing trend we are seeing is the beer and wine only bar, with His and Hers drinks.

Does your wedding venue allow outside vendors, caterers and bartenders?

While this may seem obvious, I cannot tell you how many times people request a wedding bartending quote from our team, before they speak to the venue about whether or not outside vendors are allowed. Simply put, some venues require you to use their catering team, photographers, etc. which means you cannot hire a company like Chesapeake Bartenders to tend bar for your wedding. Once you find out your venue does allow outside vendors, then you can proceed with finding professional bartenders.

Ask about certifications and state laws

It is really important to hire bartenders that are certified and understand at least basic liquor laws in their state. Why? Liquor laws are not something you want your wedding bartenders…or you, to be violating. While you might be tempted to hire your favorite bartender from the dive bar down the street, sometimes it is better to be safe than sorry. For example, in Maryland where we are headquartered, event bartenders are not required to be certified but it is highly recommended they have something called a TIPS certification. This means they have taken an in-depth training on liquor laws, signs of over serving, and liability. In Delaware, the laws are even more strict and might require a separate liquor license for your wedding. In hiring professional bartenders, you can be assured they know the state and local laws, and are abiding by them – but of course ask any and all questions to be sure!

Look at online reviews +  ask for references

Do some due diligence and look at sites like Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc. to see what their customers have to say about them. While online reviews are not everything, and may not be 100% accurate, at least it should give you an idea on the kind of service they provide.

Find out what is included in the company’s bartending packages

This one might not seem so obvious. You reach out, you ask for a quote, and that’s it right? Well, this is your wedding we are talking about, so there are important details to address. A good wedding bartending company will ask questions like: “how many guests will you have?” or “do you need us to provide equipment like the bar, coolers, linens, etc.?” You want to know exactly what is included, so you don’t end up assuming they are providing something they don’t provide. For example, will they have classy-looking ice bins and ice scoops to use in drinks? Do they provide a printed menu listing the cocktails? How many tables do they provide? These details are important, and you don’t want to glaze over them.

Is the liquor provided by the bartending company?

This is a very important one. Again, laws are going to vary greatly state to state. In Maryland, DC, Delaware and DC, where we provide wedding bartending services, it is very much illegal for our company to provide alcohol in our bartending packages. Why? We do not have a liquor license, because our bartenders do not do any cash transactions for alcohol. Simply put, we do not “sell alcohol.” We provide the service of pouring alcohol. We provide a separate quote for alcohol from a reputable alcohol retailer, and the guest purchases the alcohol directly through them. Other states might be different, but in these states, if a bartender includes alcohol or “all you can drink” in any of their packages, it should raise a red flag. Be sure to look up state laws regarding who needs to have a liquor license to sell alcohol. The wedding venue you choose will likely be well-versed in the liquor laws pertaining to their venue, so be sure to double check with them as well.

Schedule a site visit with your wedding bartenders

Any good wedding bartender will want to know all the in’s and out’s of your venue. If there is a bar provided, they will want to see it, in order to see the size, set up and “flow.” Often, site visits for weddings are included in event bartending contracts, because it is ideal to know every detail prior to the wedding. Where will the bartenders park? Where will they load the equipment? Is there an on-site event planner they will be working with the day of your wedding? All these details need to be seen in person, in order to really determine the bar set up and beverage catering flow.

I hope these tips helped you find a bartender for your wedding. Wishing you much happiness. Cheers! 


If you would like a quote from our wedding bartending team, please fill out the form below and we will be in touch:

If you are hosting a special event or party, it is advisable to hire a legitimate bartending company that is certified to provide bartending services in your state. If you are hiring a bartender for a private event, be sure to hire a certified bartender. Why? Laws vary from state to state, but almost all states in the U.S. require bartenders to be certified in order to legally pour and serve alcohol. The certification courses ensure bartenders understand the alcohol serving and selling laws in their state, and more importantly, laws regarding liability for over-serving.

For example, Chesapeake Bartenders, which is a Maryland-based bartending company, requires all bartending staff be TIPS certified. According to the website,  a Maryland TIPS certification course entails the following:

“Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS) is an alcohol management program approved by the state of Maryland. The state of Maryland requires that an alcohol licensee have someone associated with the license, i.e., owner, manager, bartender, have training in an acceptable alcohol management program. The purpose of the TIPS program is to teach servers of alcohol acceptable, and helpful, standards for responsible alcohol service. TIPS has a fee, based on “on premise” or “off premise” status.”

– source http://www.marylandfoodservice.org/tips-alcohol-training.html

 

Technically-speaking, a bartender does not have to be certified to provide Maryland bartending services for events and parties, but certification is definitely encouraged.

Do Bartenders For Hire Need To Be Certified In Delaware?

Our company also provides certified bartenders for hire in Delaware, as it is one of the many states that encourages certification to sell and serve alcohol. Chesapeake Bartenders frequently provides wedding bartenders in Dover,  Wilmington and throughout the state, and all venues we work with require active bartending certifications for weddings, parties, and special events.

Do Bartenders For Hire In Virginia Need To Be Certified?

Virginia is one of the states that does not require a bartender certification to serve and sell alcohol. Chesapeake Bartenders provides event bartending staff in Northern Virginia, and although there are no requirements for official certifications, our staff is TIPS certified in the neighboring state of Maryland, ensuring they understand their responsibilities as a professional bartender.

In sum, while it may not be a legal requirement to hire certified bartenders for a wedding, party or special event, be sure to look into requirements in your state. If you are looking for reputable bartending companies in Maryland, DC, Virginia or Delaware, the Chesapeake Bartending team is not only certified, but is committed to providing an unparalleled experience that goes beyond traditional bartending duties. Call or email us today to learn more about our services and how we can make your next party or event unforgettable!

Chesapeake Bartenders

1517 Ritchie Highway Ste L3

Arnold, MD

21012

(410) 575-4960