Planning A Tasting With Your Caterer

These days, one of the most exciting things for a bride and groom while planning their wedding is having a tasting with their caterer!  Believe it or not, years ago this wasn’t even a thing. Word of mouth, good reviews or tasting the food at someone else’s wedding was the trusted way.  But, nowadays, getting a chance to sample the cuisine before hand has become a high priority for most couples.

Tastings

Photo by Two Hearts

Pre Tasting

Before the actual tasting, it is very important you have a informative conversation with your caterer. In most cases, you’ve already collected some sort of menu, pricing information and established that they are available the day of your wedding. But, there are a few more things that your caterer needs to know before they prepare your food presentation.

The caterer will want you to paint a picture of your big day. Where and what time of day will your wedding and reception be?  How many guests? What is the “feel” of your wedding  (elegant, rustic, etc…) or do you have any type of theme? Your caterer may also get a little personal in attempt to get to know you both as a couple. Where are you from and where did you meet? What did you do on your first date or do you have a favorite trip you’ve taken together? These details can be great indications of what you are looking for.

In addition, your caterer wants to know what type of food service you prefer – buffet, family style or plated? What are your favorite types of food? Do you really enjoy heavier foods, such as rich comfort foods or classic Italian dishes? Maybe you prefer lighter fare, such as grilled vegetables and lemon roasted fresh fish.  Do you enjoy chicken and seafood but can’t tolerate red meat? Maybe a vegetarian option is of high priority for you. And last, but not least, do you have any food allergies? Remember, the chef can not read your mind! The more information, the better the translation.

The Tasting

Tastings are held in many different formats. Some catering companies choose to hold group tastings where multiple couples are invited to try the food all at once. This is a big time saver for the caterer, but isn’t always the most helpful to the client.  Many believe it’s missing that one-on-one connection most brides and grooms are looking for.  In most instances, tastings are used as a tool to help choose between 2 or 3 competing caterers.  No doubt there are several good caterers with competitive pricing in your area, but rest assure, you will inevitably hit it off with one caterer more than the other.  (It’s not all about the food. Personality has a lot to do with it!) Lastly, some caterers only provide tastings to couples that have already booked their services.  However, this seems to be happening less and less and mostly seen at venues that provide their own catering services.

Simply defined, a tasting is a chance for the bride and groom to meet the caterer, try a sampling of the food  (hand selected by the chef or the bride and groom) and discuss expectations.  Because you and your caterer have already had an informative conversation, they are able to present to you a great base of what you are looking for.  No doubt, you may want to make small changes or even change your mind on an item or two, and that’s perfectly fine, not to mention normal.  Be truthful, so when it comes to the day of the event, your menu will be what you are expecting.

Tasting

Photo ByThe Veil Wedding Photography

Cost

Last but not least, there’s the big issue of cost! Some caterers charge for tastings and some don’t.  Many caterers charge, but then credit that amount back to you if you decide to use their services. There really is no right or wrong way, but keep this in mind- you should not expect free. The caterer spends hours upon hours planning, prepping, preparing and presenting your tasting.  And in most cases, all in the HOPES you’ll choose them as your caterer.  Depending on where you are in the country and what type of caterer you’re looking for, will determine the price point. We suggest planning to pay what you would for a nice dinner out on a special date night.

Here’s Some Food For Thought

In closing,  if you like the caterer, their presentation style and their flavor profiles, then you’ll like the finished product! Though, you’ll be tempted, there’s no need to set up another tasting to try again after you’ve made a few adjustments to the menu. That’s a huge misuse of your valuable time during the wedding planning process! A good caterer should be able to earn your confidence by the initial tasting, even if they have to tweak a few things to your specific liking. Don’t make it more complicated than in needs to be. Catering is an important part of your big day, but it should not be a worry!

Enjoy!