The beauty of planning a home wedding (which is one of our expertise wedding planning services that we offer) is that it is so personal and intimate. It’s almost as if you feel you “aren’t having a formal party”, like you might if you had attended a country club or rented a hotel ballroom. However, you still have to abide by the laws, especially when it comes to under age drinking.
There is a juror case that is happening right now in Raleigh,, N.C. where an 18-year-old was killed in a drunk driving accident after leaving a wedding reception at a private home. The parents of the wedding reception are being charged with aiding and abetting the underage teen. It is still under speculation where the teenager and his friends got the alcohol, however it’s being implied that at the wedding reception there was more than enough alcohol to consume. Being a planner of many home weddings, this doesn’t surprise me. It’s much easier to get booze at a private event.
My heart goes out to both families. I am confident that no one wanted the end of that day to be this outcome. So what can we learn from this?
how to manage your bar at your home wedding
1. Hire licensed bartenders.
These are people who are competent and have complied with the laws of their state to not over serve. Back them up if they refuse to serve over intoxicated people. NOTE: New Indiana law requires bartenders to not only be licensed, but to carry an additional certification with the State of Indiana.
2. Take out additional liability policy on your homeowner’s insurance.
You should do this anyway, even if you are not having alcohol to protect yourself. However, an open bar it is paramount to have additional liability. And for TWO days. If the reception concludes at 12am, it’s the next day. NOTE: A licensed bartender does not exempt you from liability, it’s not the same as a catering license to sell alcohol. And it still doesn’t exempt you from liability.
3. Use your caterer’s licensed bartenders.
Point #1 is for people who wish to provide their own alcohol (which saves money). If you can spend the extra money, it’s a better peace of mind to use their bartenders.
4. Lock up the booze in the house.
Your family knows where you stash your booze.
5. Be aware.
This is difficult to do as wedding guests are pulling you in different directions, especially if you are the hosts. Back up the bartenders … do not let them serve underage. If you see a teenager with a drink, pour it out. Don’t let them leave.
6. Take away keys.
The truth is, an 18-year-old will find a way to drink at a wedding, or at any other event for that matter. As a pre-caution … be sure your son or daughter’s friends are going to spend the night. Or they have to check in with you before they leave. This is not condoning the situation, just being cautious.
One of the saddest part about this story is the 18-year-old who died called his Mom and said he needed a ride. While in route to pick up him, he got in a car and drove anyway. An impaired decision.
Let’s turn this tragic situation into a learning tool so this doesn’t have to happen to someone else’s family.
feature photo credit: pfe iphone