How to Hire a Bartender For Your Event, Wedding, or Party

Party people, gather around! We’ve got an event to plan for. 

You’ve just set the date for your wedding (congrats!). Or maybe your client’s daughter is turning 16 and you’re in charge of the quinceanera. Perhaps you have a holiday party coming up for your next corporate event.

Maybe you’re a new or experienced bartender, looking to be hired for a bartending service for these exclusive, private parties. (If that’s you, keep reading ’til the end!)

When it comes to hiring a bartender for your special event, there are some things you need to know and be aware of. Not all bartending companies or bartenders are created equal! Some will try to overcharge you, send over staff that looks like they just ran a triathlon, or just straight-up ghost you. 

The bar services at your party, corporate event, or wedding don’t have to be a nightmare!

Here’s a guide so you can hire the best bartenders and get the most bang for your buck out of bar packages. 

We’ve included red flags to watch out for, all the right questions to ask, and some insider tips that you can only get from industry professionals like us, the team at Local Bartending School where you can find all your bartending needs in one place and across the United States.

For my bartenders, you’ll want to keep reading to get a fresh perspective on event bar services. Then at the end, we’ll dive into how Local Bartending School can help you advance your bartending career and make more money.

Communicating with a Bartending Company

Sometimes, the discovery phase of finding the right person for the job can involve both email communication and over-the-phone. And almost all of the time, it involves a quick search on the internet. 

So how can you tell which company has the best wedding bartenders and prices? You don’t!

You see, service isn’t tangible. It’s hard to know what you’re going to get by looking at images and logos. That’s why it’s important during your communication with them (either email or phone), to ask all the right questions.

What to Do If Your Quote for Hiring a Bartender Was Emailed to You?

You’ve filled out a form or sent an email, and the company replied back with a quote based on the info you provided. This is nice, but not quite good enough. 

Time and time again, in our experience, this email communication simply isn’t enough to get all the details extracted. 

We recommend that you pick up the phone and call the staffing or bartending company. If they refuse to schedule a call with you, perhaps it’s best to keep on looking at the other choices you have.

Unsplash | Make sure you hire a bartender everyone will remember (in a good way)!
Calling a Bartending Company: What to Say? 

Now that we’ve got you speaking to an actual person, you can share all those amazing details for the party you’ve worked so hard to forget. They can hear about the theme and decor style, the timing of the event, and much more.

Not to mention, this can save you and your budget some serious cheddar. 

For instance, the bartending team shows up bright and early for your corporate event, let’s say around 3:00 pm. But you don’t actually need them there pouring drinks until around 7:00 pm when the speaker is done with their lecture.

Do you want to pay for four hours of bartenders doing nothing? Probably not! 

Also, we should note that it’s typical that there is 1 bartender for every 50 guests (or 40, if you’ve gone the route of full-service or flair bartender).

All of these details can be ironed out over one easy phone call. And of course, you get a feel for their level of service by talking to a real human.

 Here are some other things to consider and ask when you’re hiring bartenders:
  • How long do bartenders need to set up and break down?
  • Do they provide barbacks?
  • Are there surcharges for weddings?
  • When is the last call?
  • Who provides the glassware?
  • What uniforms (if any) does the staff wear?

Lastly, don’t get taken advantage of by a bartending company during your next event or next party. If they require a deposit before you talk to them or refuse to get on the phone, these are some red flags and you should be shopping for other options.

But finding an event service that’s trustworthy seems like an impossible task. It isn’t! Local Bartending School has been trusted in the industry for years. Plus, they’re the only place that will hand-select a bartender for you nationwide.

How to Hire the Right Bartender for Your Party?

Like we mentioned, when you’re finding the right bartender for your next event, it can be a bit challenging because you can’t see their service in action. But there are a few things you can check out to see how they operate and what kind of service you might get.

  • Read online reviews. Hearing what others have to say can be a glimpse into your future. If the bartender or company has raving reviews, odds are you’ll get raving service. If the reviews are negative, get deleted, or respond back hastily to comments you probably don’t want to go with them.
  • Talk to someone on the phone. We went over this, but talking to someone on the phone will usually tell you how they talk to all their customers. This is such a crucial step!
  • Don’t be scared to ask questions. Emailing quick details might seem like the easiest and quickest option, but spending time to ask the right questions will help you make your party a success.

How much does it cost to hire a bartender for a party?

As with many things, this can depend on a few things like the quality of alcohol you’re serving, how many bartenders you need, etc. Typically, it will cost you around $30 to $150 USD per hour for professional bartenders. 

For those of you planning a seasonal soiree, if your event is on a holiday, like Christmas or Labor Day, you will often have to pay a bit extra.

Hidden Fees When Hiring a Bartender

Hidden fees. We know them, we hate them. Whether you’re in Los Angeles or New York, you’ll run into them when you’re hiring a bartender for an event, wedding, or birthday party.

Some of the most common hidden charges you’ll come across are wedding surcharges, manager fees, and barback costs.

Unfortunately, some companies will charge you more per bartender for a wedding than they would a traditional party or corporate event. We find this to be bad service, honestly. The price should be the same for any party. Companies that do this usually just see the opportunity to upcharge and get away with it.

This same company might also tell you you’ll be charged for the manager or barback.  If there’s a need for additional personnel, the company should factor this into their original cost instead of charging you. 

Barbacks (the people who keep glassware clean and stocked, etc.) can be essential! So work this out with your bartending service and caterer.

Canva | Don’t run out of alcohol! Calculate exactly how much you’ll need with help from Local Bartending School.

How to Calculate How Much Alcohol You Need for Your Event

A good, general rule of thumb is this little equation–two drinks for each person for the first hour and then one drink each after that! Local Bartending School has its own tried and true calculator to determine exactly how much you’ll need, without all the guesswork.

Also, pay attention to the guest’s age, time of year, and where the event is located. All that can change what’s being consumed. Are your guests young and in their 20s? Amp up the vodka, tequila, and beer.

What Else Do I Need When Hiring a Bartender for My Wedding?

A bartop of course! There aren’t bar fairies that come around and *poof* there’s a bar. (That’d be cool, though!).

Now that you’ve got your bartender hired and the details worked out, ask your bartender or service provider if they have a mobile bar. Of course, if you’re venue has a bar, this might not be needed unless you want a remote bar with coolers outside or in another room.

A mobile bar gives bartenders and mixologists a place to keep their mixers chilled, ice frozen, and glassware stored. Without this, your event can be unorganized and messy.

If the company doesn’t already have a mobile bar, there could be some rental fees or delivery costs charged to you.

Wedding Bartender Success Stories

We pulled some success stories from other people who have hired a bartender for their event.

  • The team was everything we could’ve asked for and more. They were very professional and responsive to us when we first made contact with them, and on short notice they were able to work our event. The service and quality was exceptional. Everything we wanted in a bar service they provided, and they were great at interacting with our guests and becoming part of our party. They set up well before time and were ready to go when people arrived and continued to give great service throughout the party. And their clean up was quick and easy. An amazing service and an amazing team for a very good value. We will certainly use them again and highly recommend them! – Chase A.
  • We had a great experience with them! Travis was super responsive by phone and email through the whole planning process, and our bartenders went above and beyond to take care of us on the wedding day. We brought our own glasses that we wanted to use, and the bartenders packed up everything in a way that made cleaning up after the event super easy. Highly recommend! – Megan P.
  • [They] made our party such a HIT! They served premium liquors, cocktails & the service was AMAZING! They set up everything you need with no hassle! Will definitely book again in the future. – Karina Martinez

Party Planning and Hiring a Bartender: Your Guide for 2021 From Local Bartending School

Party planners and those hosting your own party, now you have all the right questions to ask, suggestions for communication, red flags, and hidden fees to watch out for. This guide brought to you by our team of mixologists, instructors, and bartender veterans at Local Bartending School should make your time a bit easier to navigate.

Making things even easier, you can hire LBS for your next event. Leave it to our professional staff who have been in this industry for decades to hand-select the best bartender for your party. Our name is trusted throughout the entire country! 

No matter where you are in the United States, Local Bartending School can make your event a success.

New Bartenders and Experienced Bartenders, Want to Start Serving at Weddings and Events?

Private events and event bartenders are well-sought after in the industry. 

If you’re a new bartender, Local Bartending School is the best place to learn how to bartend at events like weddings and holiday parties. LBS can get you certified anywhere in the United States. And with our job placement program, you’ll have a full-time career behind the bar.

Have some experience under your belt? Do you like to train others and share your craft? You can apply to teach bartending students at LBS! Between this, and the possibility of getting picked for huge events, you can make more money than normal side jobs.

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Carrie Jean Lipe

Carrie Lipe has been writing creatively since childhood but jump-started her professional writing after college. She's an Indiana native, Ball State Hospitality graduate, and a bartender with over 10+ years in the industry. You can find her making basil Moscow mules when she's not writing. Follow her professional journey on Instagram! @contentbycarriejean

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