Wedding table setting with flowers

Wedding Tasting: Everything You Need to Know

Jun 4, 2020
By Wedding Spot

Food is an integral part of any event, and your wedding is no exception. The menu you select helps give your big day a personalized twist and bring the wedding theme to life.

From the classics to fun reception dinner alternatives, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about your wedding tasting.

What is a wedding tasting?

A wedding tasting is a time to sample potential items on your menu and narrow them down to your favorites. It can cover appetizers, main courses, cake flavors, drinks, and more.

Why is a wedding tasting necessary?

Though the intricacies of planning a wedding may be daunting, do not skip the food tasting! Not only will it ensure you love the flavors on your special day, but it also gives the caterer a practice run to make the dish look as delicious as it tastes. You’ll be able to clearly articulate your dream menu by meeting the caterer face-to-face to avoid any stress the day of.

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How does a wedding tasting work?

Wedding tastings can be done either in private or a group session. Private sessions are ideal if you plan on customizing the menu to your unique theme. For a livelier session, you can join other couples to taste the chefs’ most popular food items and get some fresh ideas. These sessions typically last a few hours and cost a fee – unless a tasting is included in the contract or complimentary as an incentive to select that caterer.

How much do you tip at a wedding tasting?

Tip your tasting’s servers as you would for a regular meal at a restaurant – a recommended 20%. This is important as it helps you build a connection with the staff.

How to prepare for your wedding tasting, and who to invite

Don’t stress! You likely won’t need to make decisions ahead of your wedding tasting, but here are a few things to consider:

  • Plan to arrive at the session moderately hungry, but not starving. Everything tastes great when you have an empty stomach.  

  • Set your catering budget ahead of time – this will keep the menu discussions focused.

  • Take your guests' dietary limitations, like allergies and preferences, into consideration.

  • Explore seasonal foods to make it easy for the caterer to meet your needs and to stay within budget.

  • Decide who is lucky enough to join you. Limit the number of tasters to just you and your partner, your planner, and add one or two people – either trusted family members or the best man and maid of honor. Having too many people at your tasting may complicate your budget or cause indecisiveness with menu decisions. 

How to choose a caterer and a specific wedding menu

In order to take your wedding reception to the next level, selecting the best food and vendors within your budget is key. Here’s how to pick the perfect caterer that is right for you:

1. Quality. Ask your caterer about their preparation, transportation, and setup process. Under different circumstances from their standard tasting, a caterer’s quality and presentation may differ significantly from the day of your wedding, when quantity is much larger.

2. Flexibility. Adaptability is an essential attribute for your caterer to have, because so many things can change at the last minute during the planning process. After checking that the caterer can customize a menu that fits your taste, ask about the last date you can make changes and how they have dealt with changes in the past. Press for a specific example, and don't hesitate to ask follow-up questions.

3. Alcohol. Check to see what the caterer’s bar options are and how much more it would cost you. Try to bundle beverages and food with your caterer to help get the best deal you can and cut costs.

4. Service. You don’t want to be the only ones having the time of your life on your special day! Food service can make or break the reception experience for your guests. Make sure you have ample servers to cover your guest list  – we recommend one server per every 10-12 guests. Price out all of your options — you can always ask your caterer to mix and match to suit your budget.

5. Hidden costs. It’s always a good idea to find out if there are any additional costs. Some vendors may  charge more for transportation, setup, or decor.

6. Glassware/cutlery/chinaware. Do you want personalized chinaware or are you comfortable with the caterer’s standard options? Check what the vendors plan on using – at the tasting, if possible – to ensure it blends seamlessly with your theme.

7. Payments. Find out when your caterer expects your deposits to be scheduled. Clear communication will help ensure a smooth catering experience and keep you on track with your budget. You should always ask about any vendor-specific policies, including potential cancellation charges and tips for servers. 

How to align your menu with your theme

Your wedding menu should be a delicious reflection of the theme, and to do that, it’s essential to be direct and thorough with your caterer. Explain the theme clearly to your caterer and meet with the chef, if you can, to guarantee that the flavors are exactly what you imagine. The right caterer will listen and adapt to your needs in order to provide you and your guests with a flawless experience. If you have a planner, keep them by your side on tasting day to confirm that the menu options you’re considering will complement your theme. Always be open-minded! The caterer may offer suggestions to help craft a menu beyond your wildest dreams.

The do’s and don’ts of wedding tastings

  • Do: Set the right expectation. Once you have shortlisted your favorite caterers, clearly convey your expectations for the types of dishes you’re looking to taste. Select options that fit your vision prior to the tasting so the caterer can adequately prepare and wow you.

  • Do: Schedule. If you prefer a one-on-one session with your caterer, do your best to accommodate their availability. During wedding season, caterers are usually extremely busy and require ample time to prepare your lineup and acquire staff.

  • Do: Give feedback. Creating a dreamy menu for your wedding day may take a bit of trial and error. Be vocal about what you love and what you want to change. These constructive comments will not only help improve your relationship, but it will also help the caterer perfect their service.

  • Don’t: Wait until the last minute. Vendors book up quickly during wedding season, so start your search early for the best possible option. Schedule appointments well in advance to avoid being caught in a panic.

  • Don’t: Lose focus. Though it may be tempting to treat your wedding tasting as a casual and relaxing meal, stay as focused as possible. Engage your planner and ask them to take photos and descriptive notes. This will strengthen your feedback so you don’t forget any details when you’re looking back on what could feel like endless options.

Now you’re fully prepared for your wedding tasting!

We hope you enjoy it! Up next, check out the ultimate list of questions to ask your wedding caterer.

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Wedding Spot

The Wedding Spot blog is designed to help couples navigate every step of the wedding planning journey. From before the engagement to after you say “I do,” our goal is to give you the tips, ideas, and inspiration to prepare for your big day — and all that comes with it.