Wisconsin signature brandy old fashioned passed tray wedding drink

Ask the Right Questions: Wedding Bartending Services

November 12, 2019

Planning your Milwaukee wedding most likely includes booking bartending services. If you want these guests to dance, you’re going to have to keep them hydrated. This is just basic courtesy. Assuming bar service isn’t included in your catering package, you must arrange for a refreshing oasis whereby drinks can be clinked, grandmas can guzzle, and kiddie cocktails can be concocted. But how to narrow them down to a team that will suit you best? When visiting with potential barkeeps, carry with you this checklist of important qualifying questions.

Wedding bar menu
The Dollars and Cents
  • Do you charge by the hour, guest count, amount and type of alcohol consumed, or combination thereof?
  • How does pricing change if we opt for a cash bar for part of, or the entirety of, the wedding? (PB Pro Tip: If you choose to hire out a bartender that doesn’t come with the venue, by law they are not allowed to do cash bars)
  • When is a deposit and final payment due?
  • Is gratuity added to my final tab, or will you be accepting tips from guests?
  • Will we be reimbursed for alcohol not used?
  • Are you insured, and do you have documentation proving as such?
Wedding signature drink with garnish
  • What all is included in your service? Glassware, alcohol, equipment? Know in advance if you are hiring a full-service outfit versus the bartender only. A hired (soda) gun, if you will.
  • What sort of glassware is provided? Are plastic cups ever used?
  • Which liquor, beer, and wine are provided, and what do you consider your premium options?
  • Can I provide my own alcohol? If this is an option it can certainly save you money, however it adds to your workload months before, the week of, and possibly the day of your wedding.
  • How much alcohol will you stock per guest? How do you prepare against running out midway through the evening?
  • Can I offer a signature cocktail? Are you able to help me in creating one?
  • Are coffee and tea also provided? Will it be self-serve, and who will be maintaining the area where it is placed?
  • Can you display a menu for speedier service?
  • Are you able to accommodate a champagne toast, cocktail hour, and/or dinner wine service?
  • Is it permitted to serve our guests shots of liquor?
  • What are our non-alcoholic options?
wedding margarita with lime and berry garnish
The Nitty Gritty
  • When will your staff arrive? Who is setting up your work station(s)?
  • What is your staff uniform, if any?
  • If we are providing our own alcohol, will you be able to receive and set-up the delivery?
  • How many bartenders will be on staff? One per 50-75 guests is recommended to avoid long waits.
  • Will you be working with a bar-back?
  • Who is supplying ice? Where is it being stored?
  • When will “last call” be? How will you handle guests who need to be cut off?
  • Do you provide clean-up during and after the wedding? Will you dispose of your own rubbish? Be aware many venues don’t have capacity for the multitude of large bottle-filled trash bags any self-respecting Wisconsin wedding will generate.
Wedding Bartending Guide Premier Bride Milwaukee



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