Planning a Missouri Wedding? What Should You Know About Serving Your Guests Alcohol?

If you're planning your own wedding (or a loved one's nuptials), you may be taken aback at the high bar service rates charged by many venues. While purchasing beer and wine directly from a wholesaler and serving it yourself can be a good way to cut wedding costs, doing so without the proper licenses and permits could land you in deep trouble on your special day. Read on to learn more about obtaining a temporary liquor license in Missouri and what you'll need to do to ensure the bar service at your wedding is safe and legal. 

What permits or licenses do you need to serve alcohol at a Missouri wedding?

Like most states, Missouri requires those who are selling or serving alcohol in a public place to obtain a temporary liquor license. The sale (or furnishing) of alcohol without a license can land the server in hot water, potentially leading to the assessment of steep civil fines and penalties or even criminal charges. Because spending one's wedding night in a holding cell is rarely on a bride or groom's agenda, ensuring that you have all the requisite permits in place before popping your first wine cork is key to planning a successful wedding. 

Missouri offers several types of liquor licenses, and the right choice will largely depend on the size and scope of your wedding and your own alcohol preferences. For multi-day weddings (or situations in which you'd like to serve alcohol at both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding), you'll usually be best served with a 7-day beer and wine or beer, wine, and spirits license. Each "day" for licensing purposes ends at midnight, so if you expect your wedding to last until the wee hours of the morning, you'll want to make sure your permit covers both days. 

You'll also want to decide whether you'd like to serve just beer and wine or also include liquor and mixed drinks, as each requires a different permit. A final requirement is a dedicated server; for liability reasons, you'll need to have someone tending bar rather than allowing guests to serve (or over-serve) themselves. 

Where should you begin when pursuing a temporary liquor license in MIssouri? 

Your first step should be to discuss your options with the catering facility or banquet hall (if applicable). Some facilities have rules about the amount and types of alcohol that can be brought in from outside the premises, even with a permit, and you'll want to ensure you're not inadvertently running afoul of the event venue's rules before you apply for a permit. 

Next, you'll want to visit the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) of the Missouri Department of Public Safety. Each of the forms you'll need to submit to apply for a liquor or beer and wine license should be included on the ATC's website, and will also list the accompanying information you'll need to gather (like a letter from the venue owner granting permission for you to serve alcohol) and any filing fee assessed. 

It's important to keep a close eye on any published timelines for the issuance of alcohol permits because it can take up to a few weeks for these forms to be processed, waiting until a week or two before your wedding to start the process could leave you in the lurch on your wedding day. On the other hand, these permits are often only good for a few months after the issuance date, so applying for them well in advance of your wedding day could mean having to reapply once the date nears.

If you're looking to get a liquor license in Missouri or another state, start contacting services like Arizona Liquor Industry Consultants.