The Truth Hurts Tuesday ~ The Key to Understanding Your Food and Beverage Minimum

“I just feel like they weren’t honest with me from the get-go.” Said my very pissed off bride. To clarify, “they” are the venue where she is getting married, and she feels “lied to” because she is “light years” away from the agreed upon food and beverage minimum (determined before I came into the picture) in her contract. The reason I want to make it clear that I wasn’t there for the food and beverage minimum discussion is because had I been at the initial site appointment with the venue, I would have intervened and clearly stated that while the food and beverage minimum is $30,000 (for example), it’s quite likely that she will exceed said minimum. Not only do you have to consider an additional 25-30% for gratuity and tax, but let’s take a look at the word minimum [min-uh-muhm], shall we? According to, the word minimum is “the least quantity or amount possible, assignable, allowable, or the like.” As in… BRIDEY, YOU WILL SPEND MORE THAN THE MINIMUM.

Once she and I dissected the exact terms of the food and beverage minimum and then proceeded to trim her overall wedding budget, letting go of a few superfluous add-ons we had planned, she simmered down. But, then it dawned on me that perhaps she wasn’t the only bride who felt taken advantage of by the venue. And I understand it, bridey, I really do. Because I used to be the one selling the space! And looking back, I’m pretty positive that I probably didn’t fully explain that while there is a minimum for the venue, it is just that, a minimum spend or the least amount of money required to secure the space.

What I neglected to expound upon (when I was selling) was that provided that your guest list didn’t take a nose dive, then it was quite probable that you would exceed the contracted minimum. And I wasn’t trying to be deceitful, I really wasn’t! It’s just that when you’re selling it, and you know it so well, sometimes you forget that the people you’re selling it to don’t understand that the minimum is more like a guideline, not an exact science.

Brideys, the best advice I can give you? When you are looking to secure your wedding venue, find out the variance between the food and beverage minimum and what usually gets spent. Ask them to provide a sample budget based on your guest count. Then if your food and beverage minimum is $30,000 (plus tax and gratuity), but your sample budget (oftentimes based on what previous clients have spent) is closer to $37,000, then at least you will have a more realistic idea as to what you are really going to spend as opposed to simply relying on the minimum. Just remember, bridey, that the more you “want” or “have to have” then the more you are going to pay. There are no freebies, just additions. Got it?

Image via Bravo Bride