Once you've selected a caterer for your wedding, it's important to work together as you come up with the ideal menu for your cocktail hour and reception. One of the most important parts of this process is the wedding food tasting. What is a wedding food tasting? Simply put, it's your opportunity to sample a selection of the caterer's most popular options, or any dishes you've requested in order to consider them for your reception. Although you understand that this has to happen after you've selected your pro but before the wedding itself, you may be wondering when to schedule your big-day food tasting. Here, we explain some points that will help you get the timing right.
Consider the season.
Alicia Fritz, wedding planner and founder of A Day in May Events, says you'll want your food tasting to happen in the same season as your wedding, if possible. "Once a caterer is confirmed, the tastings should be done as close to the season of your wedding as possible. Ingredients that your chef and catering team are including on menus are often seasonal and locally-focused." she explains. By tasting your summer wedding's menu in December, you may not a true idea of what each dish will be like when the bulk of its ingredients are in-season. If there's no way to have the food tasting within a few months of your chosen date, make sure to discuss any possible changes with your pros during this appointment.
Ask if you can sample before you select.
Some caterers—but definitely not all—will allow you to sample their fare before you officially book them, so it's worth asking about. "Some caterers will allow you to pay a refundable tasting fee should you hire them after the tasting," says Beth Helmstetter, creative director of Beth Helmstetter Events. If you aren't able to taste the pro's food before booking, don't worry. This is pretty common, Helmstetter explains, and shouldn't be considered a red flag. Even if you have to wait until after you've contracted your caterer to try their food, make sure you sample any selections you're considering for your menu, and don't have the day's offerings printed for guests—either in the form of big-day menus or as meal choices on an RSVP card—until you're certain you love the selections.
Get the full experience.
If you're going with your venue's caterer, try to schedule your tasting during an event to mimic what the food and service will be like on your wedding day. Jeffrey R. Torem, director of catering at The Liberty Warehouse, loves giving couples (and up to four guests!) the chance to see his team in action. "We seat them and do 'nothing special,' meaning we serve them the same cuisine as we serve the guests," he says. "When we serve them the dinner course, the couple gets to experience our plate presentation and the beauty of the composed courses."