Assuming Liability: Why You Should Reconsider Providing Your Own Bar Services at Your Wedding

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You’re looking to plan the perfect wedding and reception: a fun and classy event where loved ones gather to celebrate the union of the newly married couple. The gown is purchased, cake is designed, and the perfect venue is rented, and you may be looking to save a little money wherever you can. Many couples consider providing their own bar at their wedding instead of having their bar services catered, but many people do not realize that having your own bar leave the host couple open to legal liability.

To inform you of the dangers or providing your own bar, we’ll outline:

  • How couples assume legal liability
  • How caterers remove this liability from the host couple
  • Solutions to the liability problem

How Couples Assume Liability When Providing Their Own Bar

Person Pouring Wine on Clear Wine Glass

Picture this: it’s the happiest day of your life. You’ve save a lot of money on the wedding by creating most of your own decorations and planning your own bar at the reception. You’ve just married the person of your dreams, and your family and friends are celebrating in a fun, joyful ceremony. After having a few too many to drink at the bar, the best man’s ‘plus-one’ stumbles on the patio and falls over the railing, breaking her arm, fracturing two ribs, and sustaining a serious concussion.

The bride and groom were nowhere near the accident, but are legally liable for her injuries because they provided the alcohol without a licensed bartender to manage the event. All the money the couple “saved” is now out the window because they are responsible for their guest’s medical bills and any damages she includes in her lawsuit.

This scenario is a reality for a handful of couples who decided to skimp out on a catered bar for their wedding. In many scenarios, out of control drinking at their wedding has led to injuries or even death that the couple is then legally responsible. This is called social host liability - the same liability assumed by someone hosting a wild house party to minors - but in many states extends to adults in addition to minors based off a degree of negligence in the eyes of the law. Not only does this social host liability extend to the couple hosting the event, but if the celebration occurs on private property (like a family member’s farm or backyard), they too are liable for accidents.

How Caterers Remove Liability from the Married Couple

waitress carrying glass in restaurant

When a wedding caterer is hired, the business is required to have insurance - not only for their employees, facility, and transportation - but for any accidents that occur due to their catering services. This not only includes food-related injuries (like choking on a fish bone, for instance), but also includes alcohol-related incidents. The Liquor Liability Insurance that bars and wedding caterers carry protect them and the couple who hires the company for their wedding.

Not only do wedding caterers assume the liability when they cater an event and manage bar services, but caterers will provide certified licensed bartenders for your event: bartenders who are educated on warning signs of extreme intoxication and take the necessary steps to protect guest from an alcohol-related injury. If an incident does occur, the caterer provides written documentation of the incident, removing not only liability from the couple, but the stresses of legal proceedings.

Ways to Avoid Liability at Your Wedding

Woman And Man Face To Face

At your wedding, the unspoken priority is often ensuring that you and your guests have a safe, enjoyable day. If disaster strikes, it’s important to make sure that you, as the couple getting married, are not liable for such damages. There are a couple ways to avoid this type of liability at your wedding:

  • Purchase wedding liability insurance: Couples are able to purchase insurance for their event to cover any damage to property or liability for some injuries their guests may sustain. Of course, this is also an additional cost and may be a source of more stress for the already busy couple.
  • Allow your caterer to manage the bar: Although this does come at an additional cost, it is most definitely worth the peace of mind that comes from having a safe wedding celebration. Additionally, it’s cheaper than you think. Caterers like Smokehouse Grill not only provide delicious food, but can provide an open bar with a licensed bartender starting at just $3 per guest per hour.

Your wedding is guaranteed to be one of the happiest, most beautiful days of your life. While scrambling to perfect every detail - from dresses, to caterers, to color schemes - it’s tempting to look for places where your budget can be saved. It’s clear that due to issues of liability that bar services should not be one of them. By hiring a caterer who provides license bartenders for your event you not only remove liability from yourself, but give yourself peace of mind in knowing that your guests will be served by someone knowledgeable of alcohol-related injuries and has the ability to prevent them from occurring. Open bar services (and cash bar services) are more affordable than many couples can imagine. Regardless of the type of event you choose to host - open bar, cash bar, or a dry event - be sure that you and your guests are protected and cared for in the case of a disaster with professional wedding catering services.