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May 16, 2008 05:37 PM

pre-wedding taste tests - how does it work?

when planning a wedding, i know that people must taste cakes, food from caterers, etc.

i'm just not sure how this works. do you pay for the tastings, set up a time for tastings or what? what is the usual protocol? i've ordered from caterers before for parties and they have never offered to let me taste anything in advance - so i'm not sure if i was supposed to ask or what.

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  1. For my son's wedding,rehersal dinner, they gave us a credit card for I think 4. We ate dinner trying lots of different foods and then picked the menu. The bakery had slices of cakes to taste and pix of styles. Caterers have brought food to my home for me to taste. All of this was done with appointments.

    1. For my wedding, tastings were free, but only once I had agreed to select them as my vendor. The caterer and the baker both gave very generous tastings- especially the reception site, the chef came and met with us so we could tweak the seasonings and talk about which cheeses were going to be added where to the menu.

      I would hope once you have selected your vendor, the tasting should be free. Usually they also allow you to bring a couple of guests (ours was a total of 4 as well) to offer input. For cakes (and also some caterers, hotels, and other reception sites), you can also often taste in advance at wedding shows.

      1. It depends on the restaurant/venue.

        Some places offer a "tasting" as something you pay for (sometimes quite a hefty fee). They give you a formal seating, sometimes in a room by yourself, and will serve you items from the menu you suggest, or from their most popular wedding menu items.

        Some will do a free tasting, but usually only after you select them, and often what they serve you is at their discretion and may have nothing to do with what you eventually select as your foods. Usually, it's extra from whatever buffets are going on elsewhere the time of your meal. You can use this as a general guideline as to what they do well and what they don't do well and then order accordingly. You could probably ask for a subsequent, 2nd tasting if everything was really bad, but they will probably charge you.

        1. Agree with rockandroller1 -- it really depends on the venue.

          We got married at a restaurant. We were given one tasting before we even chose them. I think it's easier for a restaurant to "entice" people this way than, say, a catering hall or some such place. (By contrast, none of the hotel facilities we looked at offered tastings unless we first chose them.)

          After we had chosen the restaurant, then we were given multiple tastings -- all free of charge. The restaurant encouraged us to stop in as often as we wanted (it was the kind of place you had to book about 2 years in advance, so there was plenty of time for this). According to them, the object was to taste most, if not all, of the items we could potentially choose for our menu.

          In addition, the restaurant (which had one large room for weddings/parties and 2 small dining rooms) also had us come during one of their weddings. We were seated in one of the small dining rooms (along with other regular diners) and we were served everything the actual wedding was getting. They wanted us to see how things were when done on a large scale (taste, plating, pacing, service, etc.).

          Finally, we were always given a complimentary drink whenever we stopped by to taste. To this day, when we return to have dinner there (which we do, several times each year), we are offered a free drink (usually an after dinner drink). It always makes us feel special and we always recommend this place to others (for weddings, parties, etc.).

          4 Replies
          1. re: LNG212

            Wow-- that sounds incredibly generous, as well as amazing customer service! If you don't mind my asking, where were you married (what city?)? Same question for the OP, as I am sure wedding practices differ around the country. My experiences have all been in Minneapolis/St. Paul, btw.

            1. re: cheeseguysgirl

              I was married in Manhattan (NYC). And, as I said, things may differ substantially when it's a restaurant. It just seems to me that they have an easier time in this arena because the food is there and they're cooking all the time anyway.

              Oh, and the restaurant also provided us a wedding cake (they had a book we could look at and flavors to choose). But we were not provided with a tasting for the cake.

            2. re: LNG212

              I know that this is a very old entry, but what is the name of the venue that you booked if you don't mind?

              1. re: msdaisy425

                Wow, it is an old thread! Glad to answer. We were married at Moran's in Chelsea (Tenth Ave and 19th St). It's 18 yrs ago now, though we do continue to go there for dinner every few months. I'm not sure if they do things the same way, but I'd hazard a guess that they do since they were successful at it. Good luck if you are looking at wedding/party venues.

            3. I just found this link after my tasting menu shock... I really thought it would just be a sample of what we would be eating and would be free if we signed the contract, but had two full, five-course meals served just as they would be for the wedding - so we ended up paying 110 euros (about $175). We are in France, outside of Paris, so just as in the US, things can vary from region to region, country to country - but it was quite a somewhat unpleasant surprise. Had I known we were paying (I guess I should have asked in advance) I would have chosen a Friday or Saturday night and made more of a special evening of it, not a Friday afternoon. But, it was a good way to see service and presentation from start to finish and the chef did an amazing job! But... it's always good to ask beforehand just to be sure.