Why Event Planners Should Love a Wedding Tasting

August 14, 2020  |  by:

The wedding tasting is about more than food. It’s an opportunity to wow your clients, nail down the timeline, and ask some crucial questions.

Weddings have classically gotten a bad wrap when it comes to food. Guests often show up with low expectations, having made the unexciting choice between rubbery chicken or overcooked steak. It’s no wonder that this idea has permeated the wedding world for so long. Feeding hundreds of people at the same time is really tricky and takes a ton of coordination. 

Photo by Brooke Lark

The foodservice industry has come a very long way, and wedding meals and provisions throughout the event day have become more and more elaborate and abundant. Finding a reliable caterer who knows how to execute for an event like yours is paramount for clients who place food and drink as top priorities. Here’s why I love a wedding tasting.

Wow With A Wedding Tasting

The wedding tasting is a caterer’s chance to wow clients (and their planners) with a taste of what they can expect on their big day. Who knows? Maybe this company will knock my socks off, and I’ll want to add them to my Preferred Vendors list to work together in the future. 

As a planner, it’s in my nature to want to know all of the aspects of an event day, down to the smallest detail. That’s why I’m always game to third-wheel it with a wedding couple at their tasting. Depending on the restaurant’s concept, this can sometimes be an elaborate setup that takes hours to get through, or a simple invitation to stop by and order off the menu. No matter how the catering company or restaurant chooses to host tastings, I recommend giving your clients the extra nudge when needed and explore a concept that’s new to them. And who doesn’t love to taste a bunch of delicious food?!

The Tasting Is An Opportunity To Learn

The tasting is my best chance of having an audience with the catering representative, and the clients, all at the same time. It’s an opportunity to discuss at length their service style and what they have to offer. Throughout the process, I make sure my clients and I ask all the necessary questions and get feedback as they taste. 

As a veteran of the restaurant industry, I love being able to soak up the service aspects of hospitality that any food or beverage provider models at the tasting. I’m continually making a note of what my clients are liking and not liking. I’ve cultivated a good understanding of catering best practices and a good understanding of regional and seasonal cuisine and wine pairings. I feel confident guiding clients who don’t have a high comfort level in making so many decisions that will ultimately make a significant impact on their event. 

Nail Down Logistics At The Wedding Tasting

This is also an excellent opportunity to hone in on the timeline discussion and nail down some important aspects for the day-of. The caterer will know best when it comes to the meal service. 

Make sure you’re getting answers to the big questions like, how long they think it will take to feed the entire guest count, how much time between courses, when they’ll serve vendor meals and kids’ meals, when they can pause service for speeches, etc. There may be specific timing structures that can’t change based on food service timing. So make sure you are setting your clients’ expectations appropriately. 

I’ve always enjoyed using this time to knock out some logistics with my clients and spend some time with them and get to know their personalities a little better. Bonus point for charming the parents if they’re along for the tasting, too!

Questions I Always Ask at a Wedding Tasting:

If you’ve never attended a wedding tasting before, here are a few essential questions to ask, and conversations to start while you’re hopefully enjoying a smattering of passed appetizers:

  • What will the service format be? (Family style, plated, buffet, cocktail style, etc.)
  • Has this caterer worked in your venue previously?
  • How will the caterer “build out” their kitchen in the venue?
  • Will the caterer provide service staff, and how is gratuity handled?
  • What can they provide for vendor and kids’ meals?
  • What can they provide for guests with dietary restrictions or severe allergies?
  • Is there equipment that needs to be rented from an outside source?
  • How customizable is the menu, and are they willing to work with your client on special requests?

Have Fun With It

Even though you’re technically “on duty,” you can still have fun with the wedding tasting. Embrace the tastes, the networking, and the joy of good food. It’s one of the perks of being an event planner.

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