Luckily for us we get to speak to many couples organising their special day and happily give advice on what to consider for the day.
We have written some of our advice below to help you decide on what its important to you when selecting a bar. Not all bars are the same.
The first consideration to have is.... does the company actually have a bar? There are many 'new' accounts appearing on social media since the pandemic advertising bar services. Consider whether you would prefer to go with a company that has been operating a few years and is experienced in organising a wedding bar.
The Important Documents
All registered Bar Services should have several documents in place in order to operate. If the bar attends regular events these documents are required and are not optional to apply to trade at public events. Whilst your wedding isn't a 'public event' you would still like the same safety measures in place.
These documents should be available upon request.
The serving Bar - Does the style fit in with the day? Can it be customised?
Consider the size of the bar and the volume of guests that will be needing to access it. Think (back before the pandemic) of your local pub, how big is the bar serving area and how big are the queues to get served? Then consider what size area you want your guests to be able to access. The wider the bar serving area, the more staff can be working. The more staff, the faster the service and happier the guests.
Ask the bar company how many staff are going to be working and are they regular staff. All of our staff have as a minimum a Hygiene Level 2 certificate and work on our bars regularly. We vary our number of staff to match the number of guests. One member of staff will be responsible for running the back bar.
Back to the Bar
Consider the physical space of the bar and how guests are going to access it. Depending on whether you are inside or outside you many need to consider the British Weather. What plans do the Bar company have for guests to access an outside bar? Can they offer an inside solution in bad weather? Experience has shown that we need to be prepared for all weathers whatever the forecast says!!
Is there sufficient access for the bar to get into the venue? Consider the location of the bar. If it's an outdoor bar, are there any restrictions for access? Speak with the bar owners and ask what their requirements are. Do they need an electricity supply? Who is going to arrange this?
Setting Up and Packing down the bar can be intrusive on your day. Discuss the logistics of when the bar will be set up. You do not want your bar being set up in full view of your guests whilst they are arriving. You want it to look professional and ready to go. Discuss with the bar company when and how they will pack away. There will be a time arranged to stop serving but what time will they leave? If a mobile bar has to leave the venue that evening then this may impact on the late guests leaving. This should be written int he risk assessment. Consider the Health and Safety of alcohol fuelled guests and dark evenings. One very important question to find out. Who is responsible for the waste removal? Personally, I would say its important to ensure that all bottles etc are recycled. Who is responsible for taking them from the site.
Whist the bar is in operation, will the look change? Consider the bar looking amazing at the start of the day, all very pretty but how will it look when it has bags of recycling waste for all to see. How will the look change in the evening? Discuss this with the bar company. How will they ensure that the look you envisage is maintained throughout the day. And what changes will there be for the evening? How will the bar service accommodate any additional guests arriving? Talk these through so everyone understands what will be happening.
What will the staff look like? Will they be wearing some kind of uniform so that they are easily identified?
TIP:If you are arranging all of the catering etc for the day make sure you work out what staff are responsible for clearing tables etc. Its not nice to see tabes filled with food after they have been finished.
What to serve?
Discuss this carefully with the bar company and take their advice. A professional bar company will be honest with what is a sensible drink choice and not just go with the highest priced drink.
Be careful with cheap prices. Cheap doesn't mean good value. We would advise you to discuss the types of spirits, beers etc that are going to be served. This may not be important to you but at least you need to know what you are buying. The Bar is part of your guest experience - in many peoples opinion it is second to the actual marriage ceremony!! People saying they had a terrible hangover due to the cheap alcohol being sold will not be a memory you want them to have in 20 years time. If you are looking for locally produced drinks, these will not be as cheap as Supermarket brands. They will however be welcomed by your guests and appreciated buy the local industry,
Be wary of a mobile bar service that can serve everything on the day. Everything is difficult. Discuss what is important to you and then see how the bar can help make that happen. The business may be able to select your bar from 'everything' but on the day there is only so much that any bar, mobile or permanent can offer. Mobile bars are limited in how much they can carry (legally) and physically to the event.
If you are considering having drinks waiting for guests maybe just before or after the ceremony here are a few pointers to consider.
(Please note at some venues where the marriage is taking place it may be illegal to serve alcohol prior to the ceremony)
Discuss what additions the bar service will bring to your day. What will they do to make your day special?
Who pays for the drinks? This needs to be clear before the day. How are the payments going to be made. One important consideration is the availability of WIFI at the venue for guests to pay for their drinks. If its a poor signal and therefore cash only this needs to be communicated with all of your guests way in advance of the day.
TIP - Ensure the bar informs you if they don't have Card payment facilities.
How will the drinks be served? This will need to be discussed with the bar, the venue and yourself. Some venues do not allow glass to be taken outside. If you are having an outside bar, how will this be managed? If glasses are being hired, you need to discuss the terms and understand who is responsible for breakages etc. Some bars will charge for this within their price, others it's an addition.
There are lots of things to consider. What I personally feel is important , that you trust the bar owner. You need to speak with them, if they don't have your vision then the above is mega essential. If you are both on the same wave length and you feel you can ask them anything then you will trust them to provide the amazing bar service that you want. Stress over!
I hope you've found the above informative. I will keep updating this info as I think of other important things.
I think its important that before you book your bar you consider that cheap is not always what you want. Talk to the bar owners about what you want and see how they can help. I work with lots of bar owners across the UK and we get really frustrated with individuals that want to earn a bit of cash on the side and say they can offer a wedding bar. Sometimes they don't even have a bar, some will build the bar with the money you give them for a deposit... The service and knowledge that you get from a professional bar service really will help your day run smoothly.
Consider the reasons why brides buy wedding dresses from beautiful boutiques and not their regular high street stores. Then apply that to your bar service.
If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact me. I have an experienced team of staff that are consistently wanting to improve our service. We can't wait to get back out to weddings.
Enjoy your planning