How Much To Pay A Bartender For A Wedding

How Much To Pay A Bartender For A Wedding: Full Guide

Last Updated on February 24, 2024 by Kimberlee Johnson

When planning for a dream wedding, there are many small details to consider, such as choosing the food and drinks. However, it is crucial to keep in mind one important aspect: determining the appropriate amount to pay the bartender for the wedding.

As someone who’s organized a wedding party before, I’ve learned how to strike the perfect balance between being fair and sticking to a budget. 

Today, we’ll explore what to consider and find the perfect amount to pay your wedding bartender while keeping your budget in mind. Read on. 

How Much To Pay A Bartender For Your Wedding?

Bartender Making Cocktail Drink

Generally, a reasonable rate to charge is between $30 and $50 per hour or $240 – $400 per bartender [1]. 

Depending on the duration of your party, consider a flat rate for a more intimate wedding, whereas a longer event calls for an hourly wage. 

You and your bartender must come to a suitable and appreciated pay scale so that everyone can be happy and they can offer the best service possible on your special day.

How Many Bartenders Are Needed For A Wedding?

If you’re hosting a wedding, you’ll want to ensure you have enough bartenders on duty. 

Generally speaking, having one bartender for every 75 guests is best. This way, they can serve drinks on time without overcrowding at the bar. 

If you’re catering to over 150 guests, consider getting four or five bartenders to ensure they have a smooth and enjoyable experience and can raise their glasses in celebration. 

Additionally, having multiple bartenders can also help accommodate customized drink requests.

Learn how far in advance you need to reserve a wedding venue here.

What’s A Normal Tip For A Bartender At A Wedding?

Giving at least 15% of the bar bill is a good idea when tipping the bartender at a wedding. But according to the pricing experts at How Much Does It Cost, it’s also important to consider the level of service provided by the bartender throughout the event. If they go above and beyond to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for your guests, it may be appropriate to lean toward the higher end of the tipping range. That said, if you’re working with a limited budget, you can still express gratitude by tipping within your means.

“You know you have a drinking problem when the bartender knows your name — and you’ve never been to that bar before….”  

Zach Galifianakis, American Comedian 

Also, it’s important to determine the venue’s rules, as some places may include a gratuity fee in their service charges. But how much should you tip a wedding makeup artist?

Do You Provide Food For The Bartender At A Wedding?

Unless specified in the agreement, you are not obligated to provide food for the wedding staff. But it’s polite to give food to the bartenders because they might be working for a long time. 

Serving at a wedding can be tough, so ensuring the bartender and other service workers have something to eat helps keep energy levels up and smooth things. 

Why Do Bartenders Cost So Much At Weddings?

Bartender Making Tequila Sunrise Drink

1. Experience Level

Higher-end bartenders, particularly those with extensive experience or a high skill level (e.g., mixologists), will charge more for their services.

2. Insurance & Licenses

Many professional bartenders carry liability insurance in case of accidents involving alcohol service. 

“When deciding how much to pay your wedding bartender, remember that they play a special role in creating a fun atmosphere. Paying them well is a way to acknowledge their important contribution to your big day.”

Howkapow Gift Site

Additionally, bartenders must often maintain valid serving licenses requiring periodic renewal and training.

3. Travel & Transportation

Bartenders may charge for travel time and expenses, particularly for venues far from their base of operations.

4. Staffing Needs

If your wedding is large, more than one bartender may be needed, increasing the total cost. Furthermore, additional bar-backs or support staff might be necessary.

5. Service Duration

Weddings usually last several hours, and bartenders need to be paid for their time. If they must be on-site for setup and cleanup, this adds additional hours to their workday.

6. Market Demand

Like any service, prices for bartenders can be influenced by demand. The cost could be higher if you marry in a popular season or on a date.

7. Equipment & Supplies

If bartenders provide their equipment (e.g., barware, drink mixers, coolers) or alcohol [2], these costs will be included in their fee.

Also Read: Tips To Set Up A Bart For The Party


How many drinks are needed for a wedding with 100 guests?

At least 100 drinks should be prepared for a wedding with 100 guests. But if you plan to have four receptions with 100 attendees, prepare around 400 drinks. 

Is it impolite not to tip a bartender?

Tipping a bartender is generally seen as good etiquette and a sign of appreciation for their services. So, not tipping them may come off as disrespectful and rude.

Is it best to tip bartenders in cash?

Bartenders prefer being tipped in cash as the money is available immediately. Tipping in cash also eliminates any potential credit card fees that come with processing a tip on a card.

Wrapping Up

Based on my experience in event planning, it’s essential to carefully consider how much to pay a bartender for a wedding. 

A fair rate usually falls between $30 and $50 per hour, costing around $240 to $400 per bartender for an 8-hour shift. Remember to include gratuities and overtime wages if needed. 

It’s also crucial to have enough bartenders to serve your guests well. As a general rule, aim for one bartender for every 75 guests. 

By finding the right balance between pay and staffing, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable bar experience at your wedding.


Kimberlee Johnson
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