7 Tips to Make the Most of Your Wedding Tasting
To eat or not to eat? Plus, other things to know before the big day.
As soon as I got engaged the first thing that came to mind was the food! While most brides dream of the perfect white dress, I imagined tables of hors d'oeuvres, the cocktail hour and an assortment of entrees to choose from. Having delicious food has always been a priority of mine but, especially when it comes to my wedding day, I want to serve the best.
As soon as we booked our venue, my fiance and I went through the catering options, looking forward to our menu tasting. Smooth sailing, right? Not exactly. Once we entered the room for our tasting, we had an overwhelming feeling of, “What are we doing here?!” If it’s your first time at a wedding tasting, it can be nerve-wracking to try and choose from all the different options. Need a little guidance? Here are 7 tips Food Network staffers suggest — to help you enjoy (and make the most of) the experience.
Don’t go hungry.
My biggest tip would be don't go when you're hungry. Make sure you have a snack or light meal beforehand. That way you won't be inhaling the food; you'll be able to taste the flavors. Think along the lines of not going food shopping when you're hungry — you'll end up buying too much or buying things that satisfy that moment in time. The goal is not to fill your belly up, but to represent you and your partner's taste for the special day.
-Vivian Chan, Host and Senior Culinary Producer
Or, come hungry.
One tip I've learned from a loved one who's an event chef is to come hungry! Wedding tastings typically involve a lot of food, including passed appetizers, the main courses and small desserts, so don't fill up on snacks or drinks beforehand. You want to enjoy the food, taste every component of the meal and ultimately be able to give honest feedback.
-Amanda Neal, Recipe Developer
Don't be afraid to ask for something not on the menu.
At our tasting we asked about fried green tomatoes with pimiento cheese and to our delight the restaurant developed the dish just for us! The chef said he was excited to experiment and create something new and, in addition to being delicious, it was so wonderful having an appetizer that was unique to our wedding.
-Sarah Holden, Digital Culinary Producer
Have an opinion.
My husband and I got married in our hometown, and planning a wedding 800 miles away had its drawbacks, yes. But picking a caterer was not one of them. Our parents happily helped a lot and tried out more than a few restaurants before we picked our caterer! But we didn't even have a cake tasting, and that's one thing I regret. My MIL's best friend has baked cakes for just about every occasion in our small town, so she was an obvious choice when it came to deciding who would make our cakes. But I distinctly remember her being annoyed that I was so easy-going. I was honestly like, "I need four round cakes for my cake stand, make a variety, decorate them with white frosting, whatever, they'll be good." But I should've had more of an opinion on what kind of frosting and cake flavors we served, because I honestly don't even remember what we had now; I think having a stronger opinion would've helped us create a more memorable dessert spread.
-Meghan Hynes Cole, Associate Editor
Keep your guests in mind.
While you should definitely include an entree you tasted and loved on the menu, it's also important to make sure there is a variety of other dishes for guests to choose from. Try to think about everyone you're inviting and what they generally like to eat. Are a lot of your friends and family avid seafood eaters? It still may make sense to include a fish dish, even if you're not the biggest fan. Also, always check in with your venue about food allergies and dietary restrictions! My husband and I had a few guests with peanut allergies, so we flagged it and asked that nothing be cooked in peanut oil. Because some of our friends follow a vegan diet, our venue also added a note to our menus saying that "vegan options are available upon request." Knowing that the menu had a little something for everyone really helped me stress less the day of.
-Trish Clasen Marsanico, Programming Manager, Food Network Kitchen
Do your research and come prepared.
Even though the tasting is supposed to be the fun part of wedding planning, keep in mind that it’s also just as important to pay attention too. If your venue or caterer gives you menu examples or packets beforehand, you should briefly review them the night before, so you’ll know exactly what they’ll be serving you! Also, bringing a pen and paper may help you jot down any notes or comments you have in the moment and taking photos of each dish will be useful to look back on to remember the overall presentation of certain dishes when it comes down to decision-making time.
-Lauren Tom, Associated Content Producer
Make sure you have a balance of flavors for your passed appetizers.
It's tough to not want to go big and rich for everything. For appetizers, make sure you have the cheese-stuffed whatever — as well as something crisp and clean. That way as food is passed around guests are getting a nice variety to warm up for dinner.
-Michelle N Warner, Food Stylist