Suppose you plan a wedding with an exact guest count and pay for a quantity and quality of alcohol to be supplied by a specific number of bartenders to ensure that your guests are quickly inebriated. What are your options when the contract reads Grey Goose but you think the Goose bottles were loaded with Fleischmann’s or two bartenders at each bar turned out to be two bartenders total for 400 guests?

[dt_quote type=”pullquote” layout=”left” font_size=”big” animation=”none” size=”1″]The wedding or wedding reception venue will tug at your heart strings and tell you that everything was so very beautiful on the day of your wedding. There is no doubt that your wedding was an amazing day despite the fact that Uncle Johnny had to wait 20 minutes for each of his whiskey sours, but that doesn’t give the venue a license to underperform.[/dt_quote]

Here’s what you should do:

[dt_list style=”1″ bullet_position=”middle” dividers=”true”][dt_list_item image=””]First, draft a letter formalizing your complaint and requesting what you believe to be appropriate damages. There may be no response but this is important and should be sent via email or certified mail or both.[/dt_list_item][dt_list_item image=””]Second, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. There likely will be no response, but again this is important.[/dt_list_item][dt_list_item image=””]You should then file a claim in New York Supreme Court. If the harm was minimal and not exceeding $5,000 in damages then Small Claims Court is the better move. Small Claims is a simple complaint and a 15-30 minute “trial” where you can produce evidence and witnesses to support your claim[/dt_list_item][/dt_list]

Do not underestimate damages from bad bartending. Uncle Johnny waiting in line for 20 minutes for every drink at a 4-hour wedding means that he probably spent 75% of your wedding day in a bar line. It also means, that if you paid a flat fee for alcohol per person, that a lot less was served than you were seemingly owed. A judge may look very sympathetically on your case, especially if they have paid for a wedding for their children. The venue will likely settle as the publicity of such a trial could do lots of harm to their business.

Remember to expressly contract for the quality of your bar and be clear with your contact at the venue about your expectations. If the Patron turns out to be Sauza, Get Gadh and he will get them!