Published January 9th, 2017

We asked our friends at The Bar Association to help us help you better understand the Maine liquor license laws as they relate to weddings. They addressed some key questions below that relate to having liquor at your wedding. You want to be very careful about providing and serving alcohol for your wedding festivities (including the rehearsal dinner and after-parties). Please read the Q& A below, provided by The Bar Association, to help you manage your liability because nothing ruins a wedding faster than a big, huge, messy liability issue.

Q: French’s Point: What is a Class 1 Liquor License? And why does a caterer need one?

A: The Bar Association: A Class 1 Liquor License is something that allows caterers (for food and/or beverage), like The Bar Association, the ability to purchase and sell alcohol to our clients. With this license, we are able to accommodate most of our client’s budgetary needs. For example, a couple that is looking to keep costs low and wants to have an open bar for their cocktail hour but then turns it over to a cash bar for the remainder of the reception is able to do so with our company due to this license. Other bar catering companies without a license are not able to purchase the alcohol AND not able to sell it.

Bar catering companies without a license are not able to purchase the alcohol AND not able to sell it.

Q: FP: Why can’t a couple just get a licensed bartender to provide service for their events?

A: TBA: Something that has come up in conversation time and time again from clients, wedding planners, venues, etc. is, “well, can’t we just get a licensed bartender?”

The answer is “No.” Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a “licensed bartender” in the State of Maine. Licenses are issued to the entity, not the person. No bartender is licensed on their own. The license comes and goes with the business that carries it.

Therefore, a bartender hired for “service-only” whom, as discussed, cannot be licensed (but can be insured), leaves any venue they are working at exposed to increased liability.

Anyone claiming to be a “licensed and insured bartender” that works off-premise, can only be licensed and insured if they are serving the alcohol they have provided or brought on site AND this alcohol has been purchased with a license issued by the State of Maine.

There is no such thing as a “licensed bartender” in the State of Maine.

Q: FP: So, what the bottom line?

A: TBA: So, the bottom line is this: since our business has a Class One Liquor License, our employees have to be Serve Safe TIPS certified and they have to be W-2 employees (nothing under the table). In addition, we cover our employees with both a Workmen’s Compensation policy, Event Liability Insurance policy, and additional Venue Liability Insurance, providing extra coverage specific for compensating the venue, which is something that surpasses any non-licensed service.

Q: FP: Where can couples learn more?

A: TBA: You can either contact The Bar Association or contact the State of Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverage and Lottery Operations directly. You can always check out our list of preferred vendors for bar service companies we recommend.

Here at French’s Point, we allow couples to purchase their own alcohol and hire a bartending service to serve it. To do so, you must obtain host liquor liability insurance for $1,000,000 of coverage, which can be done online at The Event Helper (if it is not offered through your caterer). For the safety of your guests and to protect you from liability, you need to hire a professional bartending service for your event or engage your caterer to provide bartending service. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask us!

Featured photo by Danielle Brady Photography