Top 5 Reasons Why the Liquor Law Changes in Ontario Will Affect Your Wedding

Alcohol has always played an important part at wedding receptions, whether it is champagne, table wine, beer, or other spirits. In Ontario, liquor laws have been restrictive for quite some time. Changes to the liquor law will take effective on June 1 and one of the key changes will be the extension of liquor serving hours for weddings and charity events until 2a.m.

Here are 5 things that you need to put into consideration if you choose to take advantage of these changes and extend your party hours:

  • Liquor liability issues (see below)
  • # of hours on DJ service.  Find out whether overtime charges will apply and how much for extending the dance floor until 2 a.m.
  • Additional costs on alcohol consumption that go beyond your original bar package.  You may need to pay extra per person for the extended hour(s) or go with consumption based charging after the open bar hours has ended
  • Additional charges on the waitstaff and bartender(s), and decorating company for the extended hour(s)
  • Additional charges on venue rental if the party goes beyond their original off-premise time

According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and an article written by Daneille Andrews Sunkel, President of Wedding Planners Institute of Canada, both the wedding couple and the venue are considered by law as providers of alcohol no matter if it is a cash bar, consumption bar (charged to the host on per drink basis), or open bar, and are often charged in civil lawsuits due to alcohol-related accidents.  You, being the host of the wedding, are jointly responsible with the venue to ensure that the facility remains safe for sober and intoxicated guests at all times.

To avoid any injuries or liability issues at your wedding, here are some preventive measures you can take:

  1. Limit alcohol consumption
  2. Ensure that bartenders have proper server training (such as Smart Serve in Ontario) and will not serve obviously intoxicated persons
  3. Offer food service so that your guests are not drinking on an empty stomach
  4. Encourage taxi use or public transportation with taxi chits or tokens
  5. Provide reduced/subsidized hotel room rates
  6. Encourage car pools and designated-driver programs
  7. Remind guests before and during the event not to drink and drive
  8. Have several trained doormen/spotters who encourage leaving guests to use taxis
  9. Inform guests that intoxicated persons will be put into taxis
  10. Stop serving alcohol at least 1 hour prior the end of the event to allow guests to cool off
  11. Purchase Event Liability Insurance – a type of insurance specifically for events to provide protection when lawsuits are brought against individuals, organizations or companies who host a function with alcohol service.

It may sound a bit overwhelming to you after reading about all these risks that may come up at your wedding. However, putting them into consideration early in the planning stages and taking preventive action can protect you and your guests by avoiding potential accidents.  After all, your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life and your families and friends are here to celebrate the joy with you.

Happy Planning!


Sources: WPIC, Insurance Bureau of Canada

Photo Credit: Mimi + Karl Wedding Photography

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