At weddings, while guests may often expect the clichéd rubber chicken dinner, it's the quality of the bar service that they truly never forget or forgive. This sentiment is repeatedly emphasized by the couples we interact with on a daily basis. They recount their unforgivable experiences with poorly managed bars at other weddings, where bartenders were sluggish, lines stretched endlessly, and supplies ran out prematurely. Such instances are the last thing they want to happen at their own wedding.
The bar undeniably holds the title of the most frequented location at your wedding, from the start of cocktails to the bar's closure. While guests might visit the photo booth once or twice, and the buffet and dessert tables perhaps two or three times, the bar sees guests returning five to six times a night – being conservative in our estimate. The only other place that sees more traffic is the dance floor.
Couples often inquire about how to ensure a seamless bar experience at their wedding. Here are some of our insights: The three critical factors that can make or break a bar service are staffing, workspace efficiency, and the location of the bar.
The bar area should not only be visually appealing, as this is where most of your guests gather and where you want your photographer to capture memorable moments. It must also be highly functional for your bartenders. The size of the bar plays a pivotal role in the efficiency of the service. When bartenders are cramped for space, it's unrealistic to expect a fast-paced bar. If they have to repeatedly step away to access backup items, it detracts from their efficiency.
Regrettably, we often encounter bars that fall into this category: a makeshift table with items strewn haphazardly in plain view of your guests. This not only presents an unsightly scene that your photographer will actively avoid but also creates a challenging situation for the bartenders.
It's no mystery why bars in such setups are often slow. The lack of adequate workspace and the instability of the makeshift table make it challenging to keep essentials close and hidden. As a result, bartenders frequently need to venture to remote locations to restock.
We've witnessed beautiful venues with aesthetically pleasing fronts that are, unfortunately, non-functional for bar service. This applies to some rental bars as well, which are essentially oversized boxes without proper working surfaces or storage space for the bartenders. Others may have space only for a single bartender, or their idea of a bar might be nothing more than a ledge. Such setups often lack the room needed for a back bar to store essential items like ice bins and extra alcohol, resulting in a cluttered and unappealing bar area.
While this may suffice for a small backyard birthday or a frat party, it falls short of the expectations for a wedding or corporate event, particularly when you anticipate serving between 500-600 drinks throughout the night and you don't want to see lines.
Your bar setup should ideally comprise three distinct areas:
Upper "Presentation Area": This space should be thoughtfully decorated, offering an attractive backdrop for your guests' cocktails. It should remain uncluttered and visually appealing, a place where your photographer will gladly capture memorable moments.
Lower "Service Area": The service area is where bartenders have all the essential equipment at their disposal to craft and serve drinks. It should be designed for functionality, with the added benefit of keeping any chaos hidden from your guests' view. Ensuring a seamless blend of practicality and presentation is key.
Back Bar Area: This segment of the bar provides space for the bins needed to ice down beverages like beer and wine. It also houses glassware and offers additional concealed storage, enabling bartenders to access extra supplies without the need to leave the bar area.
Which Bar Set up would you rather have?
We prefer the second one as well!
SIGNATURE COCKTAIL STATION!
We can not say enough of the power of a Signature Cocktail Station at Cocktail Hour to bust through that initial line! Be it our Bubbly Bar with bookcase stands or a table top display, a Signature Cocktail station is a GREAT way to get drinks in your guest hands FAST! Set up close to where your guests will enter cocktail hour, drinks are pre-poured and iced just before guests make there way into cocktail hour, so they are ready to go so the attendant can pass them out as guests enter! This helps alleviate the line at the main bar for your diehard beer, wine or vodka/cran guests! We have busted though 200 guests in under 15min with the combination of our Main bar and Signature Cocktail Stations!
Location, Location, LOCATION!
Ensure a clear distinction between the Buffet and Bar lines to prevent guest confusion. Having them intertwined can create the illusion of lengthy lines at the bar, and guests may inadvertently join the wrong queue. We've encountered events where the bar and buffet were situated too closely, leading to such mix-ups.
Allow ample space for your front bar area to avoid overcrowding. Guests should have room to approach the bar comfortably and move aside for the next in line, without any pushing and shoving. It's important to provide clear pathways for guests to access and exit the bar area; a single entry and exit point can create the impression of long lines as guests jostle to reach the bar.
Moreover, avoid placing tables directly against the bar. This setup can lead to uncomfortable situations for guests seated at those tables, who may find themselves inadvertently face-to-face with a stranger's backside at eye level.
STAFFING! Insufficient staffing is a biggest and most common issue, often driven by the choice of a more budget-friendly company that believes one bartender can handle a crowd of 100 people. The general guideline is to provide one bartender for every 75 guests in a beer and wine service setup, while a full bar service may require one bartender for every 50 guests. For instance, a 100-guest wedding should ideally have two bartenders!
Remember your bartenders are on site for 8-10 hours. Having multiple staff members ensures that even when one takes a break, or one has to run to where their over flow is to restock the bar, there's always someone available to manage the bar and maintain the flow of drinks, preventing any unnecessary interruptions.
Many bartenders and mobile bartending companies operate as part-timers, balancing their roles with full-time day jobs from Monday to Friday. Consequently, bartending is a part-time gig that allows them to earn extra income. Naturally, their services may come at a lower cost as all they think to cover is their hours there and you have to provide the rest.
So, the question begs: Do you want your wedding day to be handled as someone's side hustle? When choosing your vendors, you likely opt for caterers or florists who dedicate their entire professional focus to their craft. The same principle should apply to your choice of a bartending company or bartender. Opting for professionals whose primary commitment is to your event ensures a higher level of expertise and dedication.