A couple who is very close to us asked us to bartend their wedding one night after we had a few too many cocktails. We agreed (my fiancé and I) because we were a tad bit tipsy and the couple assured us that the whole thing would be an easy affair. Their wedding is exactly two weeks to the date before our wedding is. Our wedding is very small in comparison to their much more lavish wedding and we are not asking this couple to work for free in any capacity during our wedding.
I received an email thanking me and my fiancé for agreeing to bartend the wedding and attached was a three-page detailed document of our responsibilities. I was taken aback and slightly overwhelmed when I began to read the responsibilities we were tasked with which include but are not limited to: attending the rehearsal even though we are not part of the wedding party to get a lay of the land (this was not required but it was encouraged), arriving 2 and a 1/2 hours early on the wedding date to set up the bar, we have to make all of the simple syrups and garnishes during our own time before the wedding date, the day of the wedding we are to mix large batches of the drinks and set up the garnishes, tap the keg, then serve drinks alcoholic and non-alcoholic during the wedding to over 150 people. At least cocktail hour is only for an hour. In my past experience cocktail hour goes way past an hour, however.
The bottom line is my fiancé and I had been looking forward to attending the wedding but we are both less than enthused about it now. Neither of us have professional bartending experience and our wedding is planned for exactly two weeks after this couple’s. Bartending this couple’s wedding is taking us away from own very valuable wedding planning time. I would feel guilty backing out at this point since I have already committed. The FOG (my groom) says we are being taken advantage of as do some of my other close friends. It is a dilemma for sure.
Also this bride’s bridal shower is the day of the rehearsal dinner. Does etiquette dictate that we should buy them a wedding gift in addition to bartending their wedding? At this point we are planning on buying them a wedding gift in addition to bartending their wedding. When they attend our wedding we just want them to enjoy themselves and not be saddled with any responsibilities. 0402-13
You need to immediately contact the bride and groom and express your regrets that you cannot accommodate their need for a *professional* bartender. Having examined their list of expectations of your duties, explain that this exceeds your competence and comfort levels. The main reason is that, depending on your state’s laws, you and your fiance are potentially legally liable for whatever happens to wedding guests who imbibe too excessively. Unless you have insurance to cover you in that event, your friends are asking you to carry a considerable amount of responsibility for controlling the alcohol consumption of their wedding guests.
And if you both decide you cannot back out on this commitment, be assured that your labor is worth the price of a wedding gift. The reason why you were asked to serve as bartenders is the bride and groom know how expensive it would be to actually hire one so there is no need to devalue your gift of labor by adding a material gift on top of it.