Since food is such an important (and expensive!) part of the wedding day, your meal tasting is one of the most integral parts of the wedding planning process. During this meeting, you'll sample a selection of your caterer's offerings and work towards finalizing your big-day menu. While your caterer will guide you through this process, you may have a few questions ahead of the tasting—including what's fair game to discuss and whether or not the food you're trying now will be exactly the same on the big day. Here, two wedding food experts share their answers to the most common questions couples have before the tasting.
Will the chef who will work with on the wedding day be there?
The pros say this is a big one for couples, as many brides and groom wonder whether or not the chef they're meeting with during the tasting is the same person who will be present on the wedding day. Generally speaking, you'll find that the chef at your tasting will also be working your wedding, but this may not always be the case depending on your caterer or venue, so it's a good idea to ask. Most of the time, however, you'll meet with the person who will be cooking on the big day. "We want the person you work with leading up to your wedding to be the one on-site the day of," says Caroline Hummer, lead wedding coordinator at Fogcutter Catering. That way, she adds, they know every detail of the wedding.
Can we discuss more than just the food?
Leah Berhanu, director of sales and marketing for Pigéon Catering & Events, explains that the food tasting is just a small part in the larger process of creating a wedding menu. Since this is generally your main opportunity for face time with your caterer, you should certainly discuss more than just the menu items you're tasting. She suggests having frank conversations about the flow of food service throughout the evening when you're in between course samplings.
Can we ask questions about sourcing and preparation?
Absolutely. In fact, the pros really want to talk about the food with you. "Asking specific questions about where the food is sourced from and how it's prepared is encouraged, and if you don't know what something is, please ask," says Berhanu. "We are here to make sure you are most comfortable with every decision that you make, and we don't want you to feel forced into something you don't want without fully understanding what it is, or how it plays into your reception."
Will the food we're trying now taste and look the same on our wedding day?
The short answer: Yes. "Just as much care will go in to plating our dishes for 300 people as would for a tasting," Hummer says. "We believe that the eyes are the window to the taste buds, and a beautiful presentation is our second priority—after flavor, of course!" The long answer: If you're using external rentals for dinnerware, there might be some slight variations in plating, so you'll want to discuss the plates you're considering about during your tasting. Your caterer may have suggestions that will ensure you end up with a similar look on the wedding day.
Can we bring up dietary restrictions?
If you have any dietary restrictions or allergies, you should let your caterer know ahead of the tasting. That way, they can prepare only food items you can actually eat. As for guests' dietary restrictions, you can bring these up either before or during the tasting, but the pros say not to stress out about them. "Please don't worry about guests with dietary restrictions when crafting your menu," Hummer explains. "It doesn't matter how complicated the allergy list is—we've seen some intricate ones—we'll make sure that everyone is well fed no matter what."
Can we schedule a second tasting if we're still not sure about the menu?
"We always encourage clients to either wait to do their first tasting, or come in for a second tasting, when their produce comes into season," Hummer says. For clients who taste out of season, your caterers will do their best to create a seasonal variation on the dish on their menu, which will have the same flavor profiles and presentation just with different fruits or vegetables. If you're still not sure about the menu, or if you want to taste a new batch of items you didn't initially think you'd like to try, talk to your caterer about scheduling a second tasting. Just remember that your caterer may charge an additional fee for a second tasting.