Last week we attended a tasting with Food For Thought, the caterer for our wedding. I’ve never participated in a catering tasting before, so I wasn’t completely sure what to expect.
Unklike Our Dear JiT, I’ve seen enough episodes of “Platinum Weddings” on the WE channel to know that it would be a relatively formal and lenghtly affair (after the fact, he admitted he’d expected a few morsels on toothpicks).
But I think we were both blown away by the exprience. It was like eating a multi-course, formal meal in your own private dining space! Furthermore, the food was gorgeous — and delicious. Of course, multiple magazines and friends have cautioned that cooking for 4 during a tasting is much different than cooking for 150 on our wedding day, but even if the food is half as good on our wedding day, I’ll be more than pleased. It was incredible.
In addition to the food, we spent several hours (actually, we went an hour over our appointment time — whoops!) reviewing everything from the room set up to beverage options to chair and linen choices. I’d arrived armed with a huge list of questions, and the FFT staff walked us through nearly all of them and we left feeling more than pleased and even more excited about the wedding than we had beforehand.
Even so, the experience was pretty overwhelming. I’ve come up with a list below of top things to remember/consider when going into a tasting, whether its for a wedding or another major event:
1. Bring the Groom: this may seem pretty obvious, but I’ve known a few brides who didn’t invite their betrothed (and a few grooms who would just as soon decline). Bad idea. Its likely that you and your future hubby have slightly different likes and dislikes, so its a good idea to get his opinion. Additionally, you’re going to want to consider the tastes of your family and friends (as well as any allergies or dietary concerns) and he certainly knows about his mom/dad/sister/uncle joe’s gluten allergies and aversion to shellfish better than you do. If for no other reason, your groom will keep you from second-guessing yourself on every decision. When asked to choose our favorite appetizers, I was frozen in my chair until Our Dear JiT handed me his list of favorites in numerical order — and a huge sigh of releif when our choices were a perfect match.
2. Make a List Before You Go: The tasting flies by, and your conversation will periodically be interupted by delivery of the next course, review of stemware options, your mother raving about the coconut shrimp, etc. So its best to write down all of those questions that have been swimming in your head at night (do we need to arrange for extra lighting? do we need a coat check? can we have a signture drink?), so that you don’t freeze up and forget all of them when you arrive.
3. You Can Do the Tasting BEFORE You Sign: This may be dependent on the vendor, your area, etc, but I didn’t actually realize this was an option until a friend alerted me. As it turns out, she did tastings with THREE caterers before she made a decision, signed a contract and put down her deposit. We were so happy with our experience that we went ahead and signed everything on-site. Even so, I was glad to know this was an option, so if something doesn’t seem right you’re not locked in.
4. ASK, ASK, ASK!: Most caterers are eager to please, so if you’ve always dreamed of serving potato soup at your wedding but that wasn’t an option on the sample menu, just ask. They’ll probably be happy to meet your requests. Since we’re having a spring wedding, I really wanted to offer a vegetable rissotto as the vegetarian option. It wasn’t listed on our menu but I asked and the one that they made was AMAZING! After the fact, I realized I’d forgotten to ask for swatches of the linen colors we chose — I contacted my sales associate and it turns out she’d already requested swatches for me. Whatever you want, its unlikely they’ve never heard of it before — just ask.
5. Never be afraid to ask about PRICE: During the tasting you’ll be bombarded with choices…choice of stemware, choice of plates, choice of tableclothes and napkins and chairs and liquor….and many of these choices involve an extra cost. Before you fall in love with something, don’t be afraid to ask about the price. The folks at FFT were more than forthcoming and perfectly willing to work with us within our budget needs ($20 tablecloth upgrades too much? how about a $2 runner?). Just be up-front with them on what you’re able to spend and they should be happy to help!
I’m sure other seasoned wedding vets can offer many, many additional tips. I’d love to hear them — feel free to share them here.
And for those of you in the Chicagoland area, if you’re in need of a caterer, definitely give Food For Thought….some thought!