- Michigan couple Samantha Roberts and Jeff Gilleland celebrated their love with an Olive Garden-themedwedding, complete with a late-night breadstick bar.
- Also on the menu was Olive Garden’s bruschetta, mushroom ravioli, spaghetti with meatballs, and more.
- Gilleland proposed to Roberts while they were on Olive Garden’s Pasta Passport to Italy trip, which he won in 2017.
- The couple also took their engagement pictures at an Olive Garden.
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From their first dates to their proposal and engagement photo shoot, Olive Garden has always played a huge part in Samantha Roberts and Jeff Gilleland’s love story.
So when it came time to finally tie the knot, the Michigan couple knew they had to make Olive Garden a part of their wedding as well.
The couple surprised their guests with an Olive Garden menu, including a late-night breadstick bar complete with marinara and Alfredo dipping sauces.
Insider spoke to Roberts and Gilleland about their love for each other and for Olive Garden, as well as their breadstick-fuelled wedding day.
Samantha Roberts and Jeff Gilleland first met on a blind date.
“At the time, Samantha’s roommate’s mother was also my physical therapist for all my sports-related injuries,” Gilleland told Insider.
“One day, she asked if I was single because she knew the perfect girl, and thought we would be a good match for each other. Turns out she was right!”
Both Roberts and Gilleland grew up with Olive Garden, and often went there on their dates.
“For Samantha, it was a time to have a nice dinner with her mother or grandparents,” Gilleland said. “For me, I travelled for soccer quite a bit and we would always go as a team. It was a time for all of us friends and family to have a nice dinner and relax together.”
And when they first started dating, Roberts and Gilleland often met at Olive Garden.
“When you love the chicken parm as much as we do, it becomes a pretty easy decision where to eat,” the couple told Insider.
Gilleland was one of 50 people to win Olive Garden’s Pasta Passport to Italy in 2017, and he knew it would be the perfect place to propose to Roberts.
That year, Olive Garden offered 50 customers the chance to purchase a seven-night, all-inclusive trip to Italy for two – along with an eight-week unlimited pasta pass at Olive Garden – at the cost of just $US200.
After Gilleland won the trip, he decided to reach out to the organisers and see if they had recommendations for where he could propose to Roberts in Italy.
“They looped in the rest of the Olive Garden team and we hatched a fantastic plan for a proposal at a vineyard in Tuscany,” Gilleland added.
After Olive Garden played such a huge role in the proposal, Roberts and Gilleland knew they wanted to have their engagement photo shoot at the restaurant.
“Doing engagement photos with Olive Garden was the perfect way to not only commemorate our love for each other, but also the special role that Olive Garden has played all along,” the couple said.
“Everyone at the restaurant made us feel right at home. We also got to eat for a solid two hours straight, just like we did consistently throughout our trip to Italy. Neither of us complained about that!”
The restaurant chain had been part of their love story from the beginning, so Roberts and Gilleland also decided to go all-out with an Olive Garden wedding.
The couple worked with the Olive Garden team on everything from the menu to a special surprise for their guests.
Olive Garden provided all of the food for the wedding, including everything from spaghetti and fettuccine Alfredo to chicken parmigiana.
Also included on the menu was bruschetta, mushroom ravioli, and chicken and cheese piadina.
For dessert, guests could enjoy Olive Garden’s Dolcini.
Olive Garden offers five Dolcini flavours: Chocolate Mousse, Amaretto Tiramisu, Limoncello Mousse, Dark Chocolate Cake, and Strawberry and White Chocolate Cream Cake.
But the biggest hit of the night was the surprise late-night breadstick bar.
The bar came with Olive Garden’s famous breadsticks, as well as marinara and Alfredo dipping sauces.
Roberts and Gilleland said their guests were extremely thankful when the breadsticks appeared.
“It was exactly what we needed to keep the party going,” the couple told Insider.
And Roberts and Gilleland made sure they got to enjoy the breadsticks as well.
“There wasn’t much that was going to get in between us and a late-night breadstick bar by Olive Garden,” the couple said. “It was perfectly timed around the dance parties that were going on.”
The bar even featured two special chalk signs that read “I’ll happily marinara you” and “To never ending love and breadsticks.”
“We will keep and cherish those signs forever,” the couple said.
During the reception, Olive Garden surprised all of the couple’s guests with their own Pasta Pass.
The Pasta Pass allows customers to eat at any Olive Garden as much as they would like for nine weeks. It includes unlimited pasta, sauce, soup, salad, and breadsticks.
Saugatuck, Michigan, is now the city with the most Pasta Passes in America, an Olive Garden spokesperson told Insider.
Roberts and Gilleland said they were surrounded by family and friends on the first day that everyone could use their Pasta Pass.
“When we took our seats at the restaurant, we saw so many people we knew sharing meals together,” the couple said. “It was great to look around the restaurant and see so many people we love together again.”
After an Olive Garden proposal, engagement, and wedding, the newlyweds believe they’re definitely Olive Garden’s biggest superfans.
“We know there are a ton of people out there who really do love Olive Garden,” they added. “So we’re sure we have some serious competition.”
- Read more:
- We tried every single appetizer at Olive Garden and ranked them from worst to best
- 11 surprising things you didn’t know about Olive Garden
- I put Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Pass to the test to see if it’s really never-ending. Here’s what I found.
- Olive Garden is selling a new pass that will entitle holders to unlimited pasta for life – here’s how to get one
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