"A wedding is a sacrament... a joyous celebration of love and commitment. In Utopia.
In the real world... it's an excuse to drink excessively and say things you shouldn't say." - The Wedding Date (2005)
So as we enter wedding season lets chat about bar etiquette so we can avoid any embarrassing moments!
The couple or family has planned down to every detail this beautiful night. This is just as much for YOU as it is about them. The ceremony was all about them... the rest of the night is about you! Everything they picked they had you in mind... what would our guests enjoy! When we do our tasting for Signature Cocktails with couples, they always ask us what we think will be the crowd favorite! It is not necessarily about what was their favorite! They want you to have good food, good drinks and a GREAT TIME!
A great deal of venues in Central PA are BYOE (BRING YOUR OWN EVERYTHING). Most are small family owned farms that had this amazing property and a vision, which they were able to turn that vision into the stunning wedding venue you will be at!
Some come with the basics, tables and chairs. However most venues, the couple has to arrange everything, tables, chairs, food, entertainment, linens, décor. This INCLUDES the BAR, the ALCOHOL and everything that entails! So a wedding at one of these venues is just as expensive as going to a restaurant, hotel or banquette hall. Couples just get more leeway to get the vendors they want and create a unique experience as opposed to a cookie cutter wedding!
So we are the bartending company so lets chat about the bar.... here are some things to keep in mind as you go to your next wedding!
DO NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT THE BAR MENU
Please be mindful not to complain about the brand selections the couple/families have picked! Do not get upset with or give the bartenders a hard time if they do not have your favorite brand of liquor, or a particular mixer, or they do not have liquor at all, and it is only beer and wine!
Of the copious amounts of alcohol there are, the couple can only stock so much! Why? To stock a bar that will caterer to everyone's palette is impossible and would be exceedingly costly... but also space! Most wedding venues do not have a bar that can support stocking all that alcohol like your local restaurant! So be understanding of the selections the couple made. When you complain about the selections, that is a slight on the couple and all the hard work they did planning this event.
Look at it this way... their decision on brands and choices may have saved money and been the very reason they were able to add you to the guests list to enjoy this beautiful day with them. Or for you to be able to bring your plus 1!
WATCH THE BAR LINE
We have all been to weddings that the line seems to take forever and most people blame the staff behind the bar! Yes, in some instances that is the case, however for the majority it is the guests that slow up the line! Here are some tips to keep that line moving smoothly!
If there is a bar menu, look it over while you are waiting in line! Do not wait to get to the bar and ask the bartender "What do you have?" Because when you ask the question, the bartender has to rattle off the list of alcohol, then you take a few seconds to figure out what you want... then depending on what you get, another few seconds to make. That exchange takes about 20-30 seconds. Now times that by the number of guests. 150 guests times 30sec each, even with 3 bartenders that is 25 minutes to get everyone a drink in hand! So to make that line move faster, figure out what you want before you get to the bar!
Watch your bartenders! YES, we all socialize when we are in line waiting but be mindful of how fast the line is moving. Any good bartender while they are finishing the drink for one person, they are one step ahead and are looking to the next guest in line to start their order! The bartenders will not want to interrupt your conversation and be rude, this is not a night club or a dive bar. So watch your line and bartenders. This will help the line move along faster and everyone behind you will be grateful!
Then once you have your drink...step to the side and let your friends order! Do not stand in front of the bar to continue your conversation! Let them step up and speak to the bartender and get their drink! Again they will be very grateful you did! So will the bartenders and your fellow guests behind you as this helps keep the line moving!
THIS IS A MARATHON AND NOT A SPRINT Hydrate and pace yourself if you want to last until the end of the night! That is 5 hours of drinking! Most of us pace ourselves by the amount of money we have allotted ourselves to spend for a night out. So each time you put a drink on a tab or pull your wallet out to pay you are mentally calculating how much you have had.
An open bar, you can lose track quickly of how much you have had when you not calculating how much you spent! Then throw in there servers taking your drink or you miss placing them and you get another! You do not want to be THAT person all the guests talk about every time the story of the wedding comes up!
VENUE RULES & LIABILITY
Lets chat about venue rules... and Liability
No Shots, No on the Rocks, all cocktails must have a mixer, no exceptions! So do not get upset with the bartenders when they say, no to your request for a Manhattan, shot of vodka or whiskey neat! They are just following the rules set by the venue.
MOST every BOYB venue has these rules due to liability when alcohol comes into play. Why? because not all drunks are happy drunks and have caused damage to venues! Not everyone holds their liquor as well as the next, then there is a mess to clean up in the bathroom! Someone falls over their own feet because they are drunk and hurts themselves that is a liability for the venue. So instead of being a dry venue they minimize the liability.
So one way to minimize liability is to only allow drinks with a mixer. An Old Fashioned is 37% ABV... a Whiskey and Coke is about 12%. A Gin Martini is 30% ABV... a Gin & Tonic 12% ABV. Can you see why a venue doesn't want guests drinking un ending shots or Martinis!?
From a caterer & bartending company stand point, it is a liability concern as well. While yes our jobs as bartenders are to serve alcohol, we also have to serve responsibly. That means limiting certain selections and cutting people off that are visually intoxicated.
We do not know who took the shuttle from the hotel, who might be planning an Uber, who has a DD or who drove themselves! We have seen guests first hand "Oh, I'm not driving" and then see them get behind the wheel at the end of the event. So we have to treat every guest the same. That last thing we want is the couple to get a phone call that a guests didn't make it home!
So do not get made at the bartenders for cutting you off or saying no to a cocktail, they are abiding by venue rules and protecting YOU and the couple.
YOU WILL GET CARDED SO BRING YOUR ID!
BYOB venues and weddings because alcohol is being served still have to abide by ALL the same PENNSYLVANIA LIQOUR CONTROL BOARD (PLCB) laws that any restaurant and bar has to.
The MOST IMPORTANT RULE NOT SERVING ANYONE UNDER 21! So yes, if you are under 35 years of age bring your ID and expect to be carded! If you do not have your ID you will not get served. So do not get made at the bartenders if you forgot your ID. If you were at a restaurant you would need your ID, this is no different.
Also, I mentioned earlier liability concerns for the venue and and bartending company. Keep this in mind, serving a minor or over serving a guest does not just fall on them, liability also falls on the COUPLE!
In Pennsylvania there is a Social Host Law. This states whether the HOST knows it or not, if a minor drinks alcohol at their event, they are held liable. Which means the HOST... AKA the COUPLE... can also be held liable for underage guests drinking. This Social Host Law also says if someone leaves their event and gets into an accident, the HOST can be liable.
A Third Degree Misdemeanor or civil law suite will NOT go well with the gravy boat you got them.
DO NOT BRING YOUR OWN ALCOHOL!
Do not think you can circumvent venue rules and bring your own alcohol and think you can drink it in your car in the parking lot! Companies and venues do parking lot sweeps! If you are caught drinking at your car, expect that you will NOT get served at the bar the rest of the night!
While there is a test to prove you are drunk, there is no test to say whether or not the bartenders over served you or you got yourself drunk! So that falls back on the company bartending, the venue AND THE COUPLE!
So remember when you hit your next wedding... bring your ID, help keep the lines moving, don't complain about the offerings the couple has selected and please allow us to do our jobs to not only provide you with just the right amount of social lubricant for you to get out on the dance floor but to watch out for you and the couple to make sure EVERYONE gets home safe and has a night to remember!