If you are serving alcohol at your wedding, you have a lot of choices to make. Once you decide on the amount and type of alcohol you will be serving, you still have to make sure that you are following the rules and regulations regarding serving alcohol in your state. Knowing the general regulations will help you be prepared when you discuss venue ideas and potential caterers for your event.
You May Be Able to Use Your Venue's License
In most cases, if your reception venue has a liquor license, you should be able to use theirs as opposed to purchasing your own. However, if you are supplying your own alcohol, you may not be able to use your venue's license. Occasionally, venues require that you purchase either the alcohol or bartender services from them in order to utilize their liquor license. If you are providing your own alcohol and serving it yourself, you may need to provide a liquor license or insurance.
Your Venue May Require You to Purchase Insurance
Often, people are confused between a liquor license and liquor liability insurance. While you may not need a license for your event, you will most likely need insurance. Liquor liability insurance covers you or the venue in case someone becomes drunk and gets injured, injures someone else, or damages property. This insurance can sometimes be added to your home insurance or purchased separately.
Your Caterer or Bartender Should Have Their Own License
Professional bartenders should have their own liquor license. Some, but not all, caterers also have a liquor license. Before you purchase your own liquor license and insurance, talk to both your caterer and bartender to see if your event will be covered by theirs.
You May Need to Purchase Your Own Banquet License
Getting a full liquor license can be a costly, time consuming process. However, for a wedding, you will generally only need what is called a banquet license. These tend to be inexpensive and can often be purchased online or at your local liquor store. Your venue should be able to help you find out where you can purchase a banquet license.
If Your Event Is Free, Invitation Only, and Private You May Not Need a License
In many states, you will not need a banquet license if your event is free, invitation only, private, and would be held at your home if space were not an issue. If your wedding follows all of these, you probably do not need a liquor license. If your venue is pushing for you to get one anyway, you should clarify with an official on your local alcohol governance board.
You Should Not Need a License if Your Event Is Held at Home
If your event is held at home, you should not need a license. However, if you are charging for drinks or accepting donations to cover the cost of the alcohol, then you may still need a license.
You May Need a License if Your Event Is Held at a Public Park
If your event is held at a public park, it may be considered open to the public even if it is meant to be by invitation only. For this reason, many public parks require that you obtain a banquet permit if you will be holding a large event and serving alcohol. Some parks and recreation offices offer sell banquet permits when they rent the space for your event.
It is important to protect yourself by having the proper licenses, permits, and insurance when you serve alcohol at a large event. Knowing the local regulations ahead of time can make planning your event less stressful. For more information or assistance, contact companies like Arizona Liquor Industry Consultants.