There are a number of reasons why some vendors ask couples to pay for this service.

By Helen Sondag
November 11, 2019

The menu is a big part of the big day, so it's understandable that couples want to make sure the food they're selecting is as fabulous as they hope it is. That's where the wedding food tasting comes in. But you shouldn't expect your caterer to do this for free, if at all. As you know, ingredients and time cost money, so most charge a fee, while some opt to not offer the service at all. However, it does depend on the vendor and the circumstances. "We do charge a small rate for tastings for wedding clients that are not yet booked," says Sarah Kuhlberg, creative director of Colette's Catering and Events, in Orange County, California. "The fees are just to cover some costs, i.e. food, alcohol, and cake samples. When the party is booked, the tasting charges are then transferred to the remaining wedding balance."

Of course, the caterer you're meeting with may do things a bit differently. Here's what else you need to know about this somewhat unexpected fee.

Related: The Pros and Cons of Group Versus Individual Wedding Food Tastings

Your contract status can determine whether or not you are charged.

If you've already signed a contract or decide to book post-tasting, the fee is sometimes waived. But if you're still scouting out your options, you may have to pay for this preview. Sadly, it's likely that other brides and grooms have taken advantage of your caterer's courtesy—just one more reason for the fee.

What the cost covers can vary.

While some catering companies offer a choice of two entrees, others may work with the couple of honor to curate a menu specifically to their tastes. "We produce our tastings to cater directly with the client's needs, as well as a seasonality focus on the cuisine that is selected," Kuhlberg explains. "Our chef's menus are presented by our sales managers, and they run a full sit-down experience for the clients."

You shouldn't bring more than six people.

This isn't an excuse to grab a bite with the bridesmaids. Keep the group of attendees to a minimum. Kuhlberg advises never exceeding six and sticking with those whom she calls the "wedding decision-makers." Think you and your fiancé, your moms or dads, and possibly your planner or a bridal party member.

As always, communicate.

Like in any relationship, communication with the chef and with the sales manager—before, during, and after the tasting—is key. After all, now is the time to get to know your vendor, ask questions, make substitution requests, and more. Usually, caterers will indicate any potential bills beforehand, but if they don't, ask. "We are very transparent about any cost upfront and share that during the scheduling of the tasting," Kuhlberg says. "We also want the tasting to be enjoyable. After all, the food is one of the fun parts of the wedding planning process! We really love when our couples and their friends and family have a good time, get to know their sales manager and chef better, and really see their vision come together."

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