Wedding planning is a whirlwind: dress shopping, choosing the perfect venue, picking your decor, not to mention surviving the hen and stag party. One of the key parts I know my clients always look forward to is the Menu Tasting!
Before we fully explore the ins and outs of this most crucial, and delicious, aspect of your wedding planning let’s define what a wedding menu tasting actually is.
For starters, you’ll really enjoy it! What could be more pleasant than sampling gourmet food, prepared by talented chefs that are completely invested in your wedding? And on top of that, knowing that your guests will get to enjoy the same delectable dishes on your big day?
At a tasting you’ll be sampling menu items with the potential caterer of your wedding reception.
Great food is the icing on the cake of any big day, pun intended! It’s something your wedding party guests will talk about for months afterwards. Long gone are the days of less than satisfactory mass catering. Instead, we’re welcoming appetising local produce.
When to organise your menu tasting
Ideally, your wedding menu tasting will take place long before your nuptials.
If you don’t have your heart set on one particular provider you’ll want to shop around and meet with a few caterers. If you’ve already booked your venue, chat with their in-house catering team. Alternatively, maybe you’d prefer an outside caterer to come and whip up a feast. By adopting an open-minded approach you’ll soon find the perfect match for your tastebuds!
Food For Thought
It might seem like one more thing to add to your growing list of things to do but your menu can’t be left to chance. Remember, you want your guests to talk about the food for the right reasons.
Think of your menu tasting as a date with your intended; time for the two of you to sit back and let someone else do the cooking. It’s arguably more relaxing than dress shopping, right? Plus, who doesn’t love tasting moreish mouthfuls of food?
Finally, both of you will have an equal say in the final wedding menu. Whether you plump for a charcuterie board, a sit down dinner or an afternoon tea, you’ll both be in agreement and most importantly, happy.
Like lots of wedding planning, you’ve got to do your research! Ask for recommendations, get online and search for caterers that vibe with your wedding theme. Check out their website and search for testimonials and reviews.
Tasting Top Tip – Before you contact anyone, clarify your budget. Be realistic about what you can afford and go from there.
Fire off a few emails to your shortlisted caterers, including as much information as possible about your requirements. What you’ll need from them:
- A selection of sample menus
- An idea of their availability
- How much will it cost (and what this cost includes)
- Their ability to cater for various dietary requirements (gluten-free/other allergies, vegan, vegetarian etc)
Before you attend your tasting, confirm the menu with the supplier – will they be serving you a selection of their best dishes or can you request that a specific tasting menu be prepared for your visit?
Your Wedding Menu Tasting
You’ve set up the all important menu tasting; so what should you expect on arrival?
Set off with an appetite because you’ll really want to savour every mouthful. Bear in mind though that this is a tasting and you won’t be served a full meal (that’ll come on the day itself!). Instead, you’re likely to be offered mini-portions from sample menus, or a partial menu eg only a select number of canapés, no evening food for example. Every caterer approaches their menu tasting slightly differently (and charges slightly differently, so do ask the questions so you know what to expect).
Tasting Top Tip – Take plenty of notes and, if permitted, photographs. It’s tempting to get carried away with the food so don’t leave it too late otherwise you’ll be photographing crumbs! Notes and photos will help differentiate between suppliers and allow you to make an informed final decision.
What to focus on at your tasting
- The presentation of the food – how does it look? How is it served?
- The quality and provenance of the ingredients. Fresh, local produce is always preferred!
- Is the food hot enough? How efficiently has it been served?
- The manners and conduct of the catering team, do they feel friendly, are they professional, do you feel they have a high level of personal hygiene etc.
- If the caterer supplies table settings, check the quality and cleanliness of the linen and silverware etc
- Ask about wine pairings
Get to know your caterer and think seriously about how well you’ll work together. The more information you give them about your needs and those of your guests, the more satisfying your experience will be.
After Your Tasting
This is the time to take a breather. Go home and take a few days to truly digest (another pun, sorry!) your experiences.
If you have any queries, talk to your suppliers; they’ll be happy to make any reasonable tweaks.
So, are you ready to get sampling?
If you need some extra support planning your dream wedding, then please get in touch for a friendly chat.