Do I need a licence for my wedding bar or event?

This is one of the most common questions we get asked by our mobile bar hire clients, and it is a difficult one to answer!

The short answer to whether you need a licence for your marquee wedding or event is: possibly!

The exact answer depends on a lot of factors which are explained below.

Events only need licensing if “licensable activities” are taking place, these include:

  1. the performance of a play (this means any piece where a dramatic role is acted out);
  2. an exhibition of a film (this means any display of moving pictures);
  3. an indoor sporting event;
  4. boxing or wrestling entertainment;
  5. a performance of live music;
  6. any playing of recorded music;
  7. a performance of dance;
  8. or entertainment of a similar description to live music, recorded music or dance.
  9. the sale of alcohol (either at a cash bar or as part of a ticket price)

Numbers 5 and 6 mean that included in most weddings and parties there will be a licensable activity. However, for a licence to be required for activities 1 to 8 they must take place “for a consideration or with a view to a profit” which means that a band performing at a wedding or event where the guests have not been charged an admission fee would not require the event to have a licence, whereas a charity concert where donations are sought from the audience would need to be licenced.

Number 9 only covers the sale of alcohol. You can give away as much drink as you like to your guests as long as you do not charge them for it.

Luckilly, the latest Licencing Act (2003) has made it relatively easy for anyone over the age of 18 to apply for what is known as a Temporary Events Notice (TEN).

Although the application process is simple, there are still a few things to consider:

  • Leave plenty of time to apply. A TEN application takes 10 clear working days (so technically 11!), but we suggest contacting the district council that covers your venue before booking to ensure the next point is covered……
  • A venue can only have 15 TEN’s per year. Check with the venue owners and district council to make sure the limit hasn’t already been reached.
  • A TEN only covers up to 499 people. This includes staff, outside caterers, volunteers etc.
  • Some conditions may have already been placed on the venue (Usually music after a certain time). Again, check with the council!
  • The applicant will be responsible for the conduct of guests – any issues arrising may come back to you personally, and fines can be hefty!
  • The Police, Licencing or Environmental Health can turn up and request to see your licence at any time. Keep a copy of your application in a safe place at the venue.
  • A TEN can be applied for online and costs £21.  Check your application form carefully before submitting it!

We would strongly suggest that if you are in any doubt whatsoever to make contact with the district council responsible for your venue!

If you book your cash bar through Hops & Bubbles, we can arrange the TEN on your behalf.