Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Olive Garden Rule - A Perspective on Wedding Catering Costs (Los Angeles Wedding Planner)

Courtesy of Nonsense and Sensibility
If you haven't planned a wedding before, it's the unknown-unknowns that are going to shock you the most. I have been having a lot of discussions with new brides about wedding and food costs lately. As in, I have a 12k budget, my venue is $5,000, I can make my budget, right?
If your budget is a serious consideration, then you have to know that the "rule" is that venue site fee and your reception are going to take up half of your budget.

Feeding all those people costs a lot. Here's why, pulled  straight from my book, The Mad Dash Down the Aisle:

Let’s go back to dinner for a minute. I use the Olive Garden Rule (TM Liz). The standard meal you’re going to serve your wedding guests will include appetizers and drinks during the cocktail hour, and a salad, entrée, and dessert during dinner. According to Olive Garden’s website, this is their cost per person, averaging across all the different options:
Appetizers  - $8.00
Glass of Wine/Cocktail - $6.00
Salad - $7.00
Entrée - $15.00 (average, highest is $19.95)
Dessert (slice of cake) - $6.00
Sub-total: $42.00
Tax (10% where I am, but make your own calculations) – $4.20
Tip/Service (15%) – $6.30
Grand total - $52.50
x 100 guests - $5,250.00
Makes a little more sense now, doesn’t it?
There are three things you can take away from this example.
1.     The less guests you have, the less money you’re going to spend.
2.     If you can save money on any of these line items, SCORE.
3.     Memorize these four words– tax, service, gratuity, delivery (if you're bring catering in). Whoever it is that you’re talking to, whatever vendor it is, actually, ask about these four things, and add the cost in.
$5,000 venue, and you'll paying another $5200 for food. Which leaves you less than $2,000 for the rest of your wedding stuff. If you don't want to pay $52pp, how much are you willing to spend? Start with that question.
Also: I am in no way, shape or form putting down the Olive Garden. I was just there with my husband last week, because we enjoy free bread sticks, excellent salads, and I'm a huge fan of their Chicken Marasala. We're DINKs (double income, no kids), and this is what we do sometimes. Okay? Okay. I'm only using it as a price and perceived quality benchmark. Although I have to say that I've had some wedding food that made me miss Olive Garden. Just saying. 

What do you think? Were you shocked at how much food came to? What alternatives have you found? And let me know if you have any questions, in the comments. 

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith
Silver Charm Events
Post a Comment