You're planning- there's many elements floating around, you're fighting against time and a global crisis. It's easy to focus on just getting the food, the flowers,the photographer and the booze in place. What you may have forgotten or overlooked is the people directly involved in interacting with your guests - the bartenders, servers, officiant and even the photographer's assistant. These people can directly impact your, or your guest's enjoyment of the wedding day!
We're going to focus on what we know through our mobile bar business in Canada, The Wheeled Brew- Bartenders! The bar is often the most visited element of your wedding, and we're here to tell you why it's not just the drinks, but the people creating and pouring them that matter.
1. They Can Influence a Guest's Entire Wedding Experience
Every time a guest goes to the bar, there is a verbal exchange with the bartender. At a basic level it can be a transactional experience: "Hi, what can I get for you?" , "A rum and coke please". This might seem just fine, but there is an opportunity there to brighten your day, to tell a joke, to ask them how they're doing that an experienced and happy bartender would participate in. A higher level of conversation will make your guests feel as special as they are. The bar should be an experience.
With most guests visiting the bar several times throughout the day and evening, these interactions become increasingly important to guest happiness, and will help them navigate the slower parts of the wedding with laughter and patience! On the opposite side, an anti-social bartender will slowly alienate guests and make them feel unpleasant. How will that transition into their interactions with other guests?
2. Experience with Drink Creation & General Knowledge
Have you ever been to a wedding, a restaurant, or even a bar and attempted to order one of your favourite cocktails and gotten the classic "we don't have that" or "I'm sorry I don't know how to make that". Bartending, Mixology, and direct drink knowledge should be thought of like a trade. There is apprentice-level, mechanic-level and journeyman-level knowledge. Why does this matter? Your guests will ask for cocktails, they may ask about the flavour behind a craft beer, they may even ask for a drink that is bitter but flavourful in nature. The experience of your bartender will be on display in that interaction with your guests. Who do you want behind the bar in this situation?
The majority of drinks are quite standard (i.e. vodka soda), but there is a higher level of knowledge which (just like in point 1 above) creates an experience versus a transactional exchange. This will take your bar whether it is in a venue, or a mobile bar outdoors, to the next level.
3. Leader's of Guest Safety
Educated bartenders can be the leader's of guest safety at your wedding and effectively play a role in crowd control. In Ontario, bartenders must be Smart Serve Certified to serve alcohol. Smart Serve is an educational standard which helps bartenders identify unsafe alcohol-based situations and proactively maintain the safety of guests. Your guests will visit the bar many times during a wedding and interacting with an inexperienced bartender. This can be unsafe for a guest as they reach over-intoxication and can hurt themselves or others. The responsibility falls on experienced bartenders to stop this situation before it arises, and if it does, be able to positively and safely interact with guests so as the bride and groom, you don't have to. The goal is for everyone to have fun and to make it home safely!
The bartender plays the key role in this.
4. Managing Flow & Logistics
The other element that is often overlooked with bartenders? Their ability and experience in setting up the bar in a way that optimizes flow for guests. Things like:
- Where should the mixes be in contrast to the liquor to speed up drink creation?
- Should we separate the beer station and cocktail station to avoid crowds and lineups?
- Can the menu placement be more ideal so people have a chance to browse while they're waiting rather than when it is their turn?
These factors can all once again impact guest experience, something that should be thought of on your wedding day so that all can enjoy!
All four of these points are critical in creating a well rounded experience and come with time for amateur or trainee bartenders, but it is worth putting consideration into who your bar or catering service are choosing as staff; it can have a direct impact on your guests' experience on your wedding day.