The All-Important Tasting

Tomorrow is our all-important catering tasting.  Whenever I'm working with clients, the tasting is one of my favorite parts of the planning process.  Free food, yes, but the look in a couple's eyes when they actually sit down and taste the food they may be having on their wedding day is pretty special.  Especially, of course, if it tastes good and they are comfortable and happy with the process.  The tasting makes the wedding begin to feel ultra-real.

Your tasting should include at least a few of the passed hors d'oeuvres that are part of your most recent wedding proposal, as well as 2-3 of each: first courses, entrees and sides.  If the caterer or venue is providing wedding cake, you should be able to taste that, too (though I admittedly prefer to go on cake tastings separately).  So, in the spirit of our own tasting (which I'll undoubtedly be debriefing via blog next week), I wanted to share some questions to ask during your own wedding tasting. 

Our venue provides the food and beverage for our wedding so we'll be at the venue, not at the caterer's office, which leads to many more questions.  But off we go:

  • How is the food presented? 
  • Are hot dishes served hot and cold dishes served cold? 
  • Is the plate presentation appetizing? 
  • Are the hors d'oevures easy for your guests to eat?  Side note:  I hate skewers - they are awkward and unattractive!
  • Do the flavors pop and are they complex?  Is the food absolutely divine?
  • Do the courses flow well together?  Is there too much of one kind of protein or do you have items that are very divisive (like goat cheese, which I love)?  I'm not saying you need to change or eliminate those items!
  • Is there a nice balance of selections for vegetarians and carnivores?
  • Will there be any in-season changes to the menu?
  • When is the latest date you can make a change to the menu?
  • Is the caterer managing your rental order?  Did you pick linens yet?  Make them show you swatches!
  • Are the plates you're eating off the same plates you're using on your wedding day?  Same for flatware and glassware?
  • Will you be having chargers?  Side note: Say yes!  Chargers are lovely!
  • What is their standard napkin fold?  Do you like it?
  • If you are a same-sex couple, be sure to get assurance that every last person on the service staff will treat you right! 
  • If you need them, does the caterer or venue provide menu cards?  What is the heading at the top of the cards?
  • Think about when you will be having a champagne toast.  Do you want the champagne pre-set at the dinner table?
  • What is the approximate timing for dinner?  How long does it take them to get through 3 courses if it is a plated meal?
  • Is there a separate cake cutting fee?
  • Will they be providing tableside wine service?  Do you want them to?
  • Confirm whether the fee includes staff gratuity?  Side note: typically not included when you are working with an outside caterer.
  • Confirm the bar setup if you are hosting the bar: flat fee per person or consumption?  Maybe you're lucky enough to bring in your own alcohol.
  • If possible, taste your wedding wine with the food.  If the venue provides the food and bar, then ask them for a wine tasting.  If you're bringing in your own caterer and bar, then bring your own wine to the tasting!
  • What time will the caterer begin setup?
  • If you haven't already done so, ID a location for your gift table, guest book, escort cards
  • Confirm the flow of the space if the ceremony is held onsite: where does everyone go for cocktail hour while the room is being flipped for dinner?  How much of the dinner tables are set up prior to the ceremony and how will they be hidden discreetly?
  • If you don't have a wedding planner to manage the caterer, who will be your day of event go-to person?  What capacity does that person have to act as an event planner and liason with the other vendors like the DJ & photographer?
You may already know the answers to these questions but if not, the tasting is the right time to find out.

Did I miss anything?  Have fun with the tasting!  I know we will - I am looking forward to lobster tomorrow!

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