How Much Does A Bartender Cost For A Wedding?

how much does a bartender cost for a wedding
Joe | Last Updated: November 27, 2023
I'm Joe, a veteran bartender with over a decade in the industry and a burning passion for mixing drinks.

Planning your wedding is an exciting adventure, but there’s a fun aspect that we can’t forget about – the bar service.

We all want to see our guests toasting and having a great time, but have you ever wondered about the cost of that perfect pour?

From crafting special cocktails to offering a great selection of beers and wines, understanding the expenses tied to a bartender can help you manage your budget while ensuring everyone has a blast.

Let’s take a look…

How Much Does A Bartender Cost For A Wedding In The US?

Usually, the price is somewhat influenced by the selection of drinks at the bar. It’s based on whether the bartenders will mainly serve wine and beer or create signature cocktails. 

For a wedding, the hourly rate of a bartender typically ranges from $30 to $50, amounting to a total cost of $240 to $400 per bartender for the entire event.

If you opt for two to three wedding bartenders, the expense can vary from $480 to $1,200, which is a common range for weddings hosting 100 to 150 guests.

Interestingly, the hourly wage of bartenders in the US has increased from $13.90 in 2021 to the aforementioned figure. So, expect some cost fluctuations in the future, too. 

bartending a wedding
Photo by Nathan Dumlao

One aspect often overlooked when budgeting for bartending services is the work that occurs before and after the event.

Some couples assume bartenders will arrive, serve drinks, and leave, but in reality, bartenders have more responsibilities, such as setting up the bar and dismantling it afterward. 

So, for a four-hour reception, you should anticipate around seven hours of paid work from your bartenders. 

Tipping The Wedding Bartender

Tipping your wedding bartender is a nice touch, as they often rely on tips for a significant part of their earnings. However, it’s not mandatory, like at a restaurant or bar. 

Typically, gratuity is included in wedding packages, with the choice to add a tip jar or not. Gratuity usually falls within 15% to 20%, and bartenders may pocket anywhere from $100 to $500 in tips, which they often split. 

Bartender Tip Calculator

Recommended Tip

Total Bill

On the best days, tips might reach $1,000 or more, but that’s a rare treat. So, while tipping is appreciated, it’s good to know the lay of the land.

Factors That Influence The Cost Of A Wedding Bartender 

When you’re looking for the perfect wedding bartender, there are a bunch of things to consider that can make a big difference in how you plan your budget and make your decisions.

Understanding these factors is very important, so let’s check them out… 

Experience And Skill Level

Let’s kick things off by talking about the bartender’s experience and skill level, which can really sway the pricing.

Those seasoned pros who’ve mixed it up at countless weddings tend to charge a bit more than beginners, mainly because of their ability to handle all kinds of situations with ease.

Counting Heads

The number of guests you’re inviting to your big day also plays a role.

More guests often mean you’ll need more bartenders to keep the drinks flowing, which translates to a higher overall cost.

Time On The Clock

The length of time you need your bartender is another important consideration. They usually charge by the hour, so the longer you need their services, the more it adds up.

Timing and Availability

The time of year and how far in advance you book can impact the cost.

Peak wedding seasons, i.e., the months of September and October, can lead to higher rates. So, booking your bartender well ahead of time can be a smart move to lock in competitive prices.

Cocktail Complexity

If you’re dreaming of a sophisticated drink menu with all sorts of creative concoctions, be prepared for potentially higher costs.

Complex cocktails can require extra ingredients and expertise from the bartender.


Some bartenders go the extra mile, offering services like helping with bar setup and cleanup, providing glassware, or even crafting custom drink menus.

These sweet extras might come with an additional price tag, so be sure to chat about your needs upfront.

Location Matters

Where you’re saying “I do” also matters. Typically, hip urban spots and dreamy wedding destinations can hit you harder in the wallet compared to quieter rural areas.

Do You Need To Feed The Wedding Bartender?

Many catering companies are kind enough to provide meals for their servers and bar staff during the event.

Some wedding packages even offer “vendor meals,” which are simpler and more affordable than the main guest dishes, like a sandwich with sides. 

bride and groom at a wedding with guests standing around a swimming pool
Photo by Álvaro CvG

When you hire a bartender independently, offering them a meal is not only polite but also ensures they can keep serving your guests at their best.

It’s a win-win!

Tips To Keep In Mind While Finding The Perfect Wedding Bartender

  • Start by scouting online for a bartender who knows the wedding and catered event scene.
  • Ask your friends, the wedding planner, the venue manager, or fellow brides for some recommendations.
  • Check if your chosen bartender has that ServSafe Alcohol certification.
  • Take a peek at their reviews online.
  • Round up at least two bartenders and schedule some taste-testing sessions.
  • Go with the pro who’s not only skilled but also fits your budget.
  • Don’t forget to carefully review all the contract details before sealing the deal.

Wrapping Up

Overall, the cost of hiring a bartender for your wedding can vary, but understanding the factors involved makes budgeting easy.

From factors like experience and location to the number of guests and the type of drinks you have in mind, there’s quite a bit to think about.

Keep these considerations in mind and you’ll find an epic bartender for your wedding and have an amazing ceremony.