To give you an accurate sense of what your wedding food will look and taste like, many caterers offer informal tastings weeks or months before the big day. It's your opportunity to pick exactly what will be served at the reception, and it's an important task since the meal can make or break a party. So that everyone remembers the awesome cuisine at your wedding, here's what to keep in mind.
The number of items you try should be kept to a minimum.
When the caterer asks what you'd like to try, don't say, "Everything!" It'd be impossible to make any decisions given so many options. You should study their menu beforehand and have an idea of what you'd like to serve at the wedding, then you can try those foods and tweak them to your liking. Many caterers wisely limit the number of items—as in, two appetizers, two salads, three entrees, two desserts—to avoid waste and confusion. If the tasting is in a group setting, you'll probably be sampling a selection of the caterer's most popular items.
Your guests' preferences should come into play.
If you know most of your family and friends aren't adventurous eaters, leave the venison and beet foam soup to the foodie crowd and pick items everyone will eat. That doesn't mean you're obligated to serve roasted chicken or poached salmon, but don't go too far out there.
The caterer wants constructive feedback.
He or she intends to serve food that you want your guests to enjoy. Does the beef entrée need bolder flavoring? Is the salad dressing too sweet? Give your feedback—nicely, of course.
The tasting may be just the two of you or a crowd.
You may dine as a group with other engaged couples or privately. Some caterers may let you attend an event they're catering so you can taste the food. Others will set up a private appointment for you and your groom (along with a few wedding VIPs—say, your parents or best friends).
There may be a specific tasting schedule.
Because they're labor-intensive, a caterer may have a set time for tastings (Tuesdays between 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., for example). Be flexible and work around their schedule.
You may or may not pay a fee.
Some caterers offer complimentary tastings while most charge a fee, especially if you haven't signed a contract with them. If you do pay then decide to go with that vendor later, that amount will often be deducted from your final catering bill.
It's best to limit who you take with you.
Remember that too many opinions won't help you narrow down your choices. It's usually best if the tasters are just you and your groom, and perhaps one or two trusted critics. It's nice to include your moms, especially if they're footing all or part of the bill, or the best man and maid of honor. To avoid too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen syndrome, many caterers will limit the number of attendees to four within a group.