36 Crucial Questions to Ask a Bartender for Your Wedding

Make these inquiries before it's too late.
Bartender preparing drinks at wedding
Photo: Darinimages
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
by
Chapelle Johnson
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
Associate Editor
  • Chapelle writes articles for The Knot Worldwide. She covers all things wedding-related and has a personal interest in covering celebrity engagements and fashion.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Chapelle was an editorial intern for Subvrt Magazine.
  • Chapelle has a degree in English writing from Loyola University New Orleans.
Updated May 31, 2024

Before you check out wedding bar ideas, hire a professional to help make and serve the best drinks. To do this, you'll need a list of questions to ask a bartender for your wedding. These inquiries will guarantee you book a top-notch mixologist in no time, but first, you must learn how to find a wedding bartender near you. One of the ways you can do this is by using The Knot Vendor Marketplace, where you can enter your marrying location and filter by price, distance, drink types like beer or liquor and more. Once you gather a collection of your favorite bartenders, use the questions below to make the interviewing process easy and stress-free.

Questions to ask a bartender for a wedding: Logistics | Background and Experience | Bartending Style | Budget and Packages

Printable Wedding Bartender Questions Checklist

Every engaged couple needs a list of questions to ask a wedding bartender before hiring them. Save or print our helpful visual below so you can easily access every question.

Free, Printable Guide on Questions to Ask a Bartender for a Wedding
Design: Falak Khoja

Logistics Questions to Ask a Bartender for a Wedding

The questions below are the first ones you need to ask at your initial meeting with your desired bartender. These 18 inquiries will determine whether the bartender staff is the best fit for you.

1. Are you available on our wedding date?

    This is probably something you've already asked in your wedding inquiry email, but that doesn't mean you can't bring it up again in person. This is the first question you should ask every wedding vendor.

    2. Do you bring backup equipment?

      Bartenders typically have extra supplies in case a cocktail shaker goes missing or a bottle opener breaks. Despite that, ensure the bartending staff has everything they need and more to make your wedding a success.

      3. How much space do you need for yourself and your gear?

        Whether you're booking a mobile bar or have a bar set up in mind, you need to ask the pro how much space they need. Ask your vendor how much room they need so you can plan appropriately.

        4. Do you have any vendor meal requirements?

          Your wedding bartender will be present for the entirety of your cocktail hour and reception, which is why you must give them a vendor meal. This is the perfect time to jot down each staff member's allergies or dietary restrictions.

          5. What's your plan B for inclement weather?

            If your wedding will be outside at any point, you need to ask your future vendor what their plan B is if bad weather happens. You should already have a plan to provide a cover in such an instance, but checking in with them doesn't hurt.

            6. Do you require liability insurance?

              It might not seem like it, but making drinks can be a messy and sometimes (very rarely) dangerous job––especially if flair bartending is involved. That's why you should get wedding insurance so everyone is protected in case of an accident. You can expect the bartender will show you their certificate, and then you can ask for a copy for your records.

              7. What's your cancellation policy?

                It doesn't matter if you decided to have a different wedding bar type or changed your date you need to know what their cancellation policy is. Also, don't forget to ask for a copy of the policy so you can look at it later.

                8. How many breaks do you need during the event?

                  It's important to know how many and how long the breaks will be for your bartender staff. Also, inquire about what happens during those breaks. Will there be a self-service station with wine and beer? Can prebatched cocktails be placed in beverage dispensers?

                  9. What time will you arrive at the venue?

                    Always coordinate with your bartender so you know what time they'll arrive. Some venues have rules about when vendors can set up, so ask the vendor's start time and let your venue and wedding planner know.

                    Find all the vendors you need

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                    10. Will you help with the champagne toast?

                      Some bartenders consider the champagne toast an add-on service. Ask if this is already in your package or if it can be.

                      11. Do you serve at more than one event a day?

                        Wedding vendors are booked, and busy people. That's why you should ask if they have other events to attend on your wedding day. If they don't, great, but if they do, ask what their game plan is if they get stuck at another venue longer than expected.

                        12. What's the deposit and payment schedule?

                          This is one of the top questions to ask a bartender for a wedding before leaving the first consultation. Once you get the answer, you and your soon-to-be spouse can budget and plan properly.

                          13. What will you wear to our wedding?

                            Potential bartenders might have one formal black outfit or several choices for you to pick from. If you have a wedding dress code, let the staff know so everything and everyone is cohesive.

                            14. Do you have your liquor license?

                              Even though restaurants and bars must have liquor licenses, the bartending company you hire doesn't. That's because it's a private event that's not selling drinks (since cash bars are frowned upon) or serving the public. But you should ask if all the staff members have passed the requirements for legal and responsible alcohol service wherever the wedding location is.

                              15. Does anything need to be rented for the bar?

                                Figure out what the bartenders need so you can rent or borrow from the venue, like cups or napkins. For bartenders who haven't worked at your venue, ask if they have the time to check in with the venue about other supplies they may need.

                                16. What will happen to the leftover alcohol?

                                  As long as you use our helpful wedding alcohol calculator, you shouldn't have too much liquor, wine and beer leftover, but if you do, you want to know what to do with it. Remember, once you purchase the alcohol, it's all yours. Ask the staff if they can place extra bottles in boxes or coolers so you can return unopened containers to the original seller (this is legal in some states), save them for another event or give them away as gifts.

                                  17. Are you able to supply ice?

                                    Not every venue will have ice machines or refrigerators. That's why you must communicate with your bartender service if ice is in the wedding package.

                                    18. Can we provide our own alcohol?

                                      Some bartenders require you to purchase alcohol through them, while others solely provide their bartending skills. If you want more control over what you get, ask this question.

                                      Bartender making cocktail at wedding
                                      Photo: Ryan McGibbeny Photography

                                      Background and Experience Questions to Ask a Bartender for a Wedding

                                      The second step to ensuring a bartending company is the one for you is checking their background. Here are the nine questions to ask bartenders for your wedding.

                                      19. How long have you been bartending weddings?

                                        This simple question helps you determine how experienced the vendor is. How often they bartend weddings is important to know too because you don't want them to be overwhelmed with your event.

                                        20. Can we taste the cocktails before our wedding?

                                          One of the most vital things you need to do before hiring a wedding bartender is try their cocktails. The cocktail being pleasing to the eyes is nice, but if it tastes too sweet, bitter or strong it's ruined.

                                          21. Have you ever worked at our venue before?

                                            A wedding bartender who knows your venue well is a major bonus. This means they'll know the best places to set up, where to put their gear, the venue's rules and much more.

                                            22. Will you ask for guests' IDs?

                                              If you're having an adults-only wedding where everyone is 21 years old and older, you don't have to have this conversation. Otherwise, we suggest asking your bartender to ask for guests' IDs since there's a possibility that the bartending company, venue and yourself can be legally liable if an incident occurs.

                                              23. Can you send us a list of reviews from previous clients?

                                                Don't book any wedding vendors before seeing reviews from other couples. If you're pro is on The Knot Vendor Marketplace, you can see how newlyweds felt about the bartender's professionalism, cocktail style, energy and more on their wedding day.

                                                24. How many people are on the bar staff?

                                                  While interviewing your potential bartenders, ask how many people are on the staff. Plus, see who will be present on the big day so you know what kind of personalities you'll be getting.

                                                  25. Are there options for how many bartenders we can hire?

                                                    Also, based on the number of guests, you might need one or as many as five bartenders. See how many people they can provide for your event and if it's enough.

                                                    26. What's your plan for guests who are over-intoxicated?

                                                      Some guests take advantage of an open bar and get too intoxicated. A professional bartender needs to know how to spot the signs of over-intoxication (slurred speech, stumbling and more) and know how to safely and calmly cut them off.

                                                      27. What differentiates you as a bartender?

                                                        This question allows your desired bartender to give you their elevator pitch and show you why they're the best choice for you. Take note if they seem passionate about what they do because that'll most likely translate into how they act at your wedding.

                                                        Bartending Style Questions to Ask a Bartender for a Wedding

                                                        These are arguably the most fun questions to ask your wedding bartender because they involve presentation and taste. Use these five inquiries and add more if you have more detailed ones you want answers to.

                                                        28. What's your bartending style?

                                                          There are a lot of bartending styles out there. Some people specialize in classic, tiki, molecular, batched and contemporary drinks. Do your own research to see which style you like and fits your wedding theme.

                                                          29. Do you make mocktails?

                                                            Not every guest at your wedding likes or wants alcohol. Offer mocktails and other non-alcoholic drinks that guests can enjoy too. Ask if your bartender can make sprit-free versions of your wedding signature drinks.

                                                            30. What are your favorite drinks to make?

                                                              Get to know your bartender a little more by asking them what their favorite drinks are to make. Whatever their answer is can influence what you put on your drink menu.

                                                              31. Can we work together to make a drink menu?

                                                                Your wedding bartender will want your celebration to go off without a hitch. That means guiding you with drink and ingredient recommendations is something they'll happily help you with. See if your pro can suggest which cocktails, wines and beers are best for the season your wedding is in, what creative takes they can do on the classics and more.

                                                                32. Do you offer flair bartending?

                                                                  Interactive cocktail experiences or flair bartending has been a wedding cocktail trend for a while now. If you want this unique and spectacular mixology display at your wedding, ask your potential pros how they can accommodate it.

                                                                  Bartender pouring drink for guest at wedding
                                                                  Photo: Kelley Jordan Photography

                                                                  Budget and Packages Questions to Ask a Bartender for a Wedding

                                                                  We know the average cost of alcohol is one of the top expenses for many couples. That's why you need to ask these questions so you know your bartender is within your budget.

                                                                  33. What's included in your pricing package?

                                                                    Every wedding bartender will have different packages. Don't only look for things you want. Instead, get a detailed list of everything they offer. Also, see what add-on services are available and how much they cost.

                                                                    34. Does your contract include an overtime clause?

                                                                      If you're having a wedding after-party or know your loved ones tend to stay out late, you need to ask this question. Knowing their policy can also help you coordinate with your venue and determine when the last call on drinks should be.

                                                                      35. Does your rate include setup and breakdown services?

                                                                        A vendor's setup and breakdown is a hidden wedding cost, not many couples think about. Check if these services are in your package or additional charges.

                                                                        36. What's the tipping protocol?

                                                                          You should definitely tip your bartenders, but you should ask if the gratuity is already in your contract. You can always tip more than the amount listed if you feel the vendors did an out-of-this-world job. (Psst. Check out our wedding vendor tipping cheat sheet.)

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