Wedding Etiquette Forum

Question about serving alcohol...

We are having a backyard wedding at our home and are worried about guests drinking and driving.  Is it ok to stop serving alcohol a hour before the end of the reception?? 

Re: Question about serving alcohol...

  • I wouldn't worry about this too much. Adults should be capable of monitoring themselves. Just make sure to provide lots of water and snacks so people keep eating. If someone is visibly drunk, to the point that they're out of control, maybe cut them off. Leave everyone else alone :) 
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    peachy13
  • Seconding novella to not worry about how much your guests are drinking, but to make sure to provide food and non-alcoholic drinks as well.
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  • I think you are liable  in some states for injuries/ incidents as related to  drunk people at your wedding. Though these things are probably rarely enforced, it wouldn't hurt to check out your state laws/ precedents. I don't see a problem with not serving alcohol for the last hour of the reception. People might still leave once you say "okay, last call!" which may negate the purpose though.
    JaxInBluescb2471
  • An hour isn't enough time for anyone who's had more than one drink to sober up (yeah, I know everyone's metabolism is different and one drink an hour and blah blah blah, but seriously...not enough time, not okay, in the vast majority of cases), anyway, so there's not much point in that. Ultimately, it can be worse because people THINK they're sobering up but really are nowhere close to a legal BAL. 

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    novella1186
  • lilacck28 said:
    I think you are liable  in some states for injuries/ incidents as related to  drunk people at your wedding. Though these things are probably rarely enforced, it wouldn't hurt to check out your state laws/ precedents. I don't see a problem with not serving alcohol for the last hour of the reception. People might still leave once you say "okay, last call!" which may negate the purpose though.
    We provided all the alcohol for our reception and purchased a one time liability insurance policy that basically provided coverage for anything related to damage/destruction etc. stemming from alcohol consumption at our wedding.  It was definitely worth the few hundred bucks to have piece of mind about this!!!!!  You should be able to get one time event coverage through just about any insurance agent.  
    short+sassy
  • lilacck28 said:
    I think you are liable  in some states for injuries/ incidents as related to  drunk people at your wedding. Though these things are probably rarely enforced, it wouldn't hurt to check out your state laws/ precedents. I don't see a problem with not serving alcohol for the last hour of the reception. People might still leave once you say "okay, last call!" which may negate the purpose though.
    This.  It may be worth the extra money to either buy the insurance cafarrie mentioned and/or to look into hiring a bartender for your reception.  You could still do a last call, but some extra eyes and protection wouldn't be a bad idea.
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  • JaxInBlue said:
    lilacck28 said:
    I think you are liable  in some states for injuries/ incidents as related to  drunk people at your wedding. Though these things are probably rarely enforced, it wouldn't hurt to check out your state laws/ precedents. I don't see a problem with not serving alcohol for the last hour of the reception. People might still leave once you say "okay, last call!" which may negate the purpose though.
    This.  It may be worth the extra money to either buy the insurance cafarrie mentioned and/or to look into hiring a bartender for your reception.  You could still do a last call, but some extra eyes and protection wouldn't be a bad idea.

    We also hired professional bartenders (2 of them for the duration of cocktails hour and reception) from a local restaurant.  I think the bartenders left about 45 minutes to an hour before everyone left the reception but we didn't do a specific last call - a few people went back and grabbed another drink when they were gone, but we had no issues with people being out of control.  
  • cafarrie said:
    lilacck28 said:
    I think you are liable  in some states for injuries/ incidents as related to  drunk people at your wedding. Though these things are probably rarely enforced, it wouldn't hurt to check out your state laws/ precedents. I don't see a problem with not serving alcohol for the last hour of the reception. People might still leave once you say "okay, last call!" which may negate the purpose though.
    We provided all the alcohol for our reception and purchased a one time liability insurance policy that basically provided coverage for anything related to damage/destruction etc. stemming from alcohol consumption at our wedding.  It was definitely worth the few hundred bucks to have piece of mind about this!!!!!  You should be able to get one time event coverage through just about any insurance agent.  
    We also got insurance coverage.  We also provided transportation if people wanted and had licensed bartenders. 

    You can cut the bar at any point you want.   Generally speaking most people leave within 30 minutes of a bar shutting down.  Not sure you are going to accomplish what you want out of closing it an hour early.








    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • jacques27jacques27 member
    First Answer First Comment 5 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited October 2014
    If your wedding was at a banquet hall, would you be worried about drinking and driving?  (I mean, more than the normal amount people would worry.)

    Responsible adults should be showing up to any wedding with a designated driver planned, regardless of whether your wedding was at a restaurant, hotel, banquet hall, city park, or your backyard.  So honestly, unless you have a roster full of habitual and uncontrollable DUI offenders on your guest list, there isn't a need to cut people off any earlier than you would at any other venue.  And if you do have a roster full of people you need to worry about, then odds would say they're bringing their own flask along with them.

    Where you do need to worry with this being your home is liability insurance - both alcohol and otherwise (if someone falls down your steps you could be held liable).  Also, hire an independently insured bartender as well who will cut someone off if necessary so that you don't have to monitor this yourself and worry.
    Maggie0829novella1186
  • I agree that you need to carefully examine your homeowners liability very carefully and even call up your agent and go over your plan, and maybe take out an "event" liability insurance policy for the wedding. If someone trips and falls or any other type of accident could result in you being sued.

  • Your guests are adults - they can make their own decisions. Offer nonalcoholic options, food and have phone numbers available for local taxi services. Check in to your insurance options to protect yourself just in case - and have a hired bartender to keep consumption under control. Our wedding is in a hall with hired bartenders - but we're also offering a block of rooms with a free shuttle to and from the wedding. 

    And I'd like to second the thought that an hour is not enough time for someone to sober up unless they pretty much haven't drank at all. 
  • We had an open bar (no bartenders) right up until the end of of our backyard wedding and guests either moderated their intake or arranged designated drivers. They're adults and they know how to handle themselves at a party. I did double check my state's social host laws, and there's no liability for intoxicated adults.
    weddingcactus
  • I strongly agree about getting the insurance. It's less likely your guests will sue you--it's the people they hit and injure with their car who will sue you. At least in Michigan (where I am from and spent time bartending), the last place to serve a person alcohol had liability over any accident the person gets into. This means the bar, or the house the person drank at, can be sued in the case of a drunk driving accident. I had to attend a whole day seminar provided by the state that explained these laws. 

    Many caterers come with insurance as part of their package, so ask. If not, work with your homeowners insurance to figure out your options.
  • We brought our own alcohol and purchased insurance as well as hired licensed professional bartenders who were insured as well. 

    Our bar closed 1/2 an hour prior to the end of the event per our venue's requirements. 
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