by Danielle Andrews Sunkel
More and more the providers of alcohol are being charged in civil suits due to alcohol-related accidents and deaths.
The venue is always charged, but the couples holding the wedding are also named, as they were the providers. It does not matter if they had a cash bar or an open bar, they are still considered providers as they made the decision to have alcohol available.
Further to this, you are jointly responsible with the venue to make sure the facility is safe for sober and intoxicated guests at all times. More lawsuits are brought against couples for unsafe conditions than for alcohol-related injuries. The venue will have their own insurance, you usually will not.
It is becoming increasingly smart to purchase Event Liability Insurance. It is often around $400 depending on the number of people attending.
Did you know?
- Its illegal to encourage drinking in an already intoxicated person?
- It is illegal to raffle off alcohol (all those Socials and Buck & Does may have a problem!)
- It is illegal to make drinking the focus of an event (Stags and Stagettes)
- It is illegal to serve home-made alcohol at a reception (unless you get a “No-sale Reception Permit”)
- It is illegal to allow guest to drink and drive
- It is illegal to allow guests to bring in or take out alcohol from the event (those “wine as favours” are illegal!)
- It is illegal to permit drunken, quarrelsome, violent or disorderly conduct at an event
- It is illegal to announce “Last Call”
Steps you can take to lower risks:
- You should make sure your Bartender and Servers have the proper Server training, it has a different name in each province but it is the same thing, ie: SmartServe, Serve It Right, etc.
- A proper amount of food should be served throughout the evening, a late-night buffet is seen as a frivolity, but it serves the purpose of making sure the guests are not drinking on an empty stomach
- A cooling-off period is a good idea. Stop the bar service at the same time the Food buffet is brought out. Continue with coffee, tea and soft drinks. It is illegal to announce
“Last Call”, but the MC can announce it at the beginning of the night.
- Have some taxi vouchers available for intoxicated guests and make arrangements with the venue that cars can be left overnight.
- Take transportation out of the equation, have guests brought to and from the reception on a bus. A school bus ranges in price from $200-600 depending on the amount of stops.
There are several alternatives to having or limiting alcohol. Your WPIC Certified Wedding Coordinator will know several (and how to save money on the bar too).
Some ideas are:
- Change the time & focus of the reception.
- Perhaps have a breakfast, brunch, luncheon or afternoon tea reception.
- Limit the hours the bar is open, limit the variety of drinks offered.
You need to be properly prepared and take the proper precautions to protect yourselves and your loved ones. After all its supposed to be the happiest day of your lives!
Places to buy Alcohol Liability Insurance:
PAL, the company that provides “Weddinguard” Wedding Insurance, also carries “Special Events Liability Insurance”. www.palcanada.com (Canadian)
K&K Insurance Brokers also have Special Events Insurance www.kandkcanada.com(Canadian)
WedSafe provides Event Liability & Property Damage Insurance www.wedsafe.com (they also provide Wedding Insurance) (American serving Canada)
Private Event Insurance provides Event Liability & Property Damage Insurance www.privateeventinsurance.com (American serving Canada)