Over the past 15 years as a wedding concierge one of the most common questions I get is “how does alcohol work at weddings?” Truthfully this answer has changed over of the years, but as of today this is the current information we are working with in Kentucky.
I will add a disclaimer here, I am not an expert and every wedding (and event) is different and unique. I have talked with numerous people to write this blog to try and answer all of the questions I can for you. Your venue and vendors will have specific rules and guidelines you must follow, this is just an introduction into the topic and scenarios/terminology you may run across.
If you are told you need a “certified bartender” or “licensed bartender” – there is no such thing in the state of Kentucky. There is, however, a “STAR Certified Bartender” – this means a person holds a bartending certification in the state of Kentucky. STAR stands for Server Training in Alcoholic Regulations. Find more information about this certification here. For STAR Certified bartenders, I recommend Set The Bar KY. They carry general and liquor liability insurance. Your friend that bartends on the weekend at a restaurant likely does not carry this, nor will they easily be able to provide multiple bartenders, coolers, ice, garnishes, etc.
If your venue contract states you must hire a caterer with a liquor license to serve your alcohol that means you must hire a caterer that can provide your alcohol. No ifs, ands or buts. You can’t hire someone with a STAR certification directly, you must go through a caterer to use their bartenders and alcohol. When this scenario is in place as a venue requirement it means that a caterer cannot just “run a bar” they must always provide % of consumable food. The caterer will carry the liability insurance and provide all alcohol and items needed for the bar. Examples of caterers with liquor license: Bayou Bluegrass Catering, Lundy’s Special Events and Type A Catering.
Keep in mind, when purchasing your own alcohol you will want to stick to just a few types and brands and not an extensive list. If/when you run out, it’s out. You often can return unopened alcohol at the store listed above, but it can not be mangled, wet, etc.
Your catering and bar portion of the wedding will likely be your biggest expense. It is important to look at all options before deciding on what is best for you.