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Your guide to planning a restaurant wedding

Restaurant weddings are smart and sensible! It is no wonder that more and more couples choose their favorite restaurants as their wedding reception venue. The interesting thing is that it is not only food-lovers who make this choice. Many couples nowadays prefer a small, intimate and meaningful wedding ceremony and reception instead of a big bash where they hardly know all the guests. Restaurants are a likely choice for such couples as well.

Here are some of the other reasons why restaurant weddings are so attractive.

It is the best option for those who are short on time: It is an easy go-to solution for a couple who are short on time or aren’t too keen on planning every small detail of their wedding day. So, if you are a bride or groom who has many pressing needs at work or otherwise, and fitting in wedding plans is nearly impossible, a restaurant wedding may be the easiest option available.

Budget-friendly options: Restaurant weddings cost a lot lesser than weddings at other venues when you want good quality service and food for a smaller number of guests. Hiring a wedding venue, renting or buying all the things for the reception, hiring catering and serving staff, and planning all the décor can be very expensive and take over most of your budget. When you choose a restaurant, the décor is done and there is no need to rent furniture, linens, or tableware. All that’s needed for the service is available and you do not have to hire extra staff.

Food quality is guaranteed: Restaurants specifically thrive on good ratings, and their ratings are directly linked to the quality of food they serve. If you love a restaurant for their signature food, you know your guests can enjoy the same on your wedding day. So, you needn’t worry too much about the food, or even attend numerous tasting sessions to zero-in on a good caterer. Even when you do, you do not have the same assurance that the food on the wedding day will be the same as what you had at the tasting session. On the other hand, with a restaurant, you have a minimum guarantee of what you can expect.

The setting is cozy and intimate: All are naturally comfortable and settle in quickly when it is a cozy restaurant setting. These venues are used to accommodating guests on a daily basis and assure you of comfortable seating, the right amount of cooling or heating for the weather, and experienced staff who can make your guests feel at home in an instant.

You get classy décor for little to no cost: Unlike decorating your wedding venue from scratch and spending thousands on each feature, a restaurant comes with furniture and tastefully done décor that you don’t have to spend anything on. Instead, you can divert those funds into another wedding detail. Everything is in place, even without your supervision.

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So, what do you think? Isn’t a restaurant wedding a great idea, given all these advantages? If you agree, here are the things to remember and do, when you plan your lifetime celebration at this venue.

Know your headcount

Before you finalize a restaurant, you should have a clear idea of how many guests will be attending your wedding. Restaurants are small spaces, and cannot accommodate more than a certain number of people comfortably. So, make sure that the place you choose will have enough space to seat all your guests. Check it out in person, to make sure there will be no problems. Your guests will not appreciate any make-shift adjustments if they aren’t given due importance. Don’t settle for a place unless it can cater to the headcount you suggest.

Be picky about the food quality

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The main attraction of a restaurant wedding is the food that will be served, and your guests will expect a great dining experience. So, don’t skimp on that factor. Make sure that you choose a restaurant that has great food. If it is a restaurant with dishes that are popular with most of your guests, you do not have much work to do. However, if you decide to go with a unique or distinct restaurant menu, you may like to collect a few opinions first. For example, if you choose a cuisine that most of your guests are not accustomed to, think of how you can adjust the menu so that there will be something for everyone.

Find out whether the event menus different from the regular menu

One of the first things to discuss with the restaurant manager is whether their event menu is different from what they regularly serve customers. This is a factor to consider, since you will be choosing a similar menu for a larger headcount, and the restaurant may have limitations in preparing certain dishes at once for the entire number. Restaurant service is very different from the service that is usually provided in other venues. So, discuss this with the chef, especially if there are certain choices that you must have and want to impress your party with.

Discuss your options to bring food from outside

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Most restaurants do not encourage customers to bring food from outside. So, you may like to discuss this option if the restaurant doesn’t serve drinks or doesn’t have a custom cake service. Discuss with the manager before you sign the deal, so you are not disappointed later. Many brides prefer to have a custom gourmet cake, specially designed by a cake designer for their reception. However, your restaurant may not agree to it, if they have their own pastry chef or bakery section. Similarly, if the restaurant will not serve the signature drinks that you want, you may like to discuss this if it is important to you.

Make an early booking

Although it may be easier to book a restaurant when compared to other wedding venues, there are certain seasons when the rush is high For example, restaurants tend to be busier during the holidays. So, you will have to compensate them for the business they may have at the time when you book the entire facility. When you book at least six months ahead of the date, this should not pose a problem.

Ask about décor options

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Most restaurants are beautifully decorated, and the ambiance is usually a factor that attracts a couple to such places. So, it is a bonus when you think of how you can have a fantastic party without splurging on the décor. However, you may like to add a few special touches to make it more festive. A special centerpiece or some more floral décor may be a good idea. Ask about the extent to which you can add your own personal touches to the décor on the day. What are you allowed to bring in, and what do they restrict?

Talk about the privacy you will have

It wouldn’t be the same if there were other people at the restaurant, while you celebrate your wedding. However, it is a possibility that you have to consider it. Unless the restaurant hosts your party in a segregated hall where nobody from outside has access to, it is a good idea to consider hiring the whole place for the day. Most restaurants have small halls that you can fully book. So, you may be able to do this, if your guest list matches the number that can be hosted in such spaces. Of course, it will end up being more costly than when you just have to pay for the place you will occupy. Nevertheless, it will be worth it, as you will get the privacy you deserve, without any prying eyes. Even if you have to pay more for buying out the entire place for the time you are there, it will not be too much in comparison to hiring a whole other venue and decorating it from scratch.

Discuss the layout and seating arrangements

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Some restaurants are flexible in allowing you to change the seating arrangements, while others do not encourage it. Talk to the manager, and find out what your options are. Your layout should be comfortable for the guests who will be attending. Knowing what your seating options are, will allow you to decide on an arrangement that will work best. If the restaurant has hosted many parties before, you may like to take a look at some of those photos to figure out the different seating options and choose the best one for your function. It will also give you an idea of how space looks when transformed, rather than just going with an abstract idea.

Discuss the extra costs upfront

The overall cost will depend on the number of guests, the food served, and the day on which your wedding is held. You may be able to get a better deal if your wedding is on a weekday, or if you plan a brunch or lunch at a restaurant that normally doesn’t operate during the day. However, you will have to consider the extra cost if your party extends for longer than you anticipate. Apart from the listed cost, also find out about service charges and additional fees. You may also like to add tips and gratuity into the total cost, so you know what you have to budget overall.

Check how kid-friendly it is, if your guest list includes kids

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Most family-style restaurants will be equipped to handle little children. However, make sure you confirm this beforehand if there are children on your guest list. Do they serve special meals that may be a better option for children? Also, do they have seating arrangements that will be convenient for them? Knowing this in advance will allow you to plan any alternate arrangements you may have to make for the youngest members of your wedding party.

Check out previous weddings held there

A restaurant that has hosted many weddings in the past will always be a better bet than one without much experience. This is because weddings are quite different from regular services, for the headcount and style of service expected on the day. An experienced restaurant will be better equipped to accommodate last-minute changes in the headcount and to arrange the service in a seamless manner with minimum supervision. This article on Apartment therapy tells us that a Google search with the name of the restaurant and the words “wedding blog” will most likely turn up photos of weddings that were previously held in the space. If you decide to go with a place that is relatively new, it is a good idea to communicate more and be very specific about your expectations, so they get a clear picture of what you expect.

It isn’t unusual for couples, and especially brides, to feel worried and anxious as their wedding day draws near. With hundreds of details to plan and things to sort out, this is a normal and expected part of wedding planning. Having a restaurant wedding will help you overcome a great deal of stress, as much of it is already sorted out without any additional help. In fact, if you don’t have a wedding planner to oversee your wedding plans or guide you, a restaurant wedding may be one of the best options to minimize stress. With all these details taken care of, all you need now is a fantastic wedding dress to transform you into the beautiful bride you always wanted to be. And, we are here to help you find it.

Best for Bride features a vast inventory of top-class designer wedding dresses, in all price ranges and every type imaginable. Whether you are a modern bride or prefer a traditional wedding dress, we are sure you can find it in our stores. Check out the listings of all the dresses we carry, at our website link here, to see the dresses in our collections. Book your appointment with us today, and come one step closer to nailing your wedding day look.

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Wedding tasting etiquette: 10 things you should be aware of

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The food that is served at your wedding has an important role in determining the overall wedding experience. Most of the guests, if not all, will look forward to the food that is provided on your wedding day. So, you do not want them to be unhappy with the meal offered, while everything else was done to perfection.

Most wedding vendors offer a wedding tasting session before you book your order. With this option, you can actually see, taste, and experience the food that will be served on your wedding day. We suggest that you take your caterer up on this offer of wedding food tasting and make sure everything is just right, so there are no regrets later.

As with anything wedding-related, there is a catering tasting etiquette that you should adhere to. We will be looking at the do’s and don’ts of wedding food tasting etiquette. But before we move to this list, let us first try to understand what you can expect at your tasting session.

What to expect at your tasting

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Tastings allow you to sample the menu you have chosen for your reception. It gives you a real idea of how the service will be, and how the food will look and taste. While some caterers offer complimentary tastings, others charge you for it. Some vendors, however, offer complimentary tasting if you sign the contract first. This is because it can end up being very expensive for the vendor otherwise.

If you are just shopping around and want to taste the food prior to committing to an order, this is also usually possible. The caterer may then ask you to pay for the food that will be served at the tasting. 

If a vendor disagrees to conduct a tasting prior to paying a deposit, you can ask him to make an exception if you would be ready to pay for it. If he refuses, think twice about booking. The service at the reception may go either way, and the last thing you want is to regret booking it without an idea of what you would be receiving.

Prior to your tasting session, you will be expected to discuss your expectations and choose the dishes you want to try, from their menu. Full-size portions are usually served, so you can actually see and experience how the wedding meal will be. The drinks that will be served, will also be included with the meal.

Now that you know what to expect at the tasting session, let us move on to the general etiquette for a successful tasting session. Follow the list we have provided, and you are sure to have a positive experience, whether you choose to go with the caterer or not.

Wedding food tasting Etiquette

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Keep your entourage limited

While many caterers offer complimentary tasting sessions for up to 4 guests, you should be able to include more if you are paying for it yourself. However, as with bridal dress shopping, it is not only good food tasting etiquette, but you can actually achieve the best results if you keep the entourage to a minimum. With more people, you can easily lose focus and this isn’t favorable for neither you nor your caterer.

Bring a small group of three to four people at the most, and they should be ones who can give honest and helpful feedback. If you have a wedding planner, she should be at the tasting. This is because she is experienced enough to look beyond basics, and can spot potential problems in the quality of food and service. She can also relate the service and dishes to how the meal would actually work at your venue, and make suggestions that will help.

Be flexible with your schedule

Remember that there are a lot of factors that go into planning a tasting session. Your caterer will have to put his staff on duty to prepare the meal, however small it may be. Different vendors handle tasting sessions in different ways. While some conduct open-house tasting sessions for a number of couples, others may give you a special session where you can have a personalized sample of what you would like for your wedding day.

In certain cases, your caterer may even ask you to attend a function that they are catering to. This may be so you can see how they conduct their service, and also sample the food as it will be done on your wedding day. Whichever be the style of your caterer, you should be able to accommodate it into your schedule, if you want to consider his services. This is also where you should consider what to wear to a wedding tasting. If you will be attending a function they are catering at, make sure you dress appropriately for the event and not look out of place.

Don’t lose focus of why you are there

A tasting session is about understanding how your reception food will be. Your caterer would prefer that you focus on the food at the tasting, instead of any other things that are going on in your life. Do not consider this as an occasion for family discussions or friendly feuds, and try to limit your conversations to the food and the wedding. Remember that your caterer will be near, observing you throughout. So, don’t be disrespectful or ignore the purpose of why you are there.

Save the serious discussions for later, unless you want to sound rude. Keep the chattering to a minimum and pay attention to what is provided. Attend your session with a notepad and camera, so you can make notes and click pictures for future reference. This will also help you better to make suggestions for changes.

Come prepared for the tasting

Apart from being prepared to take notes and pictures, it is important that you are also involved in the tasting. Plan your tasting session for a day when you do not have any other pressing engagements. Only then can you concentrate and make the most of the experience. Be mentally prepared and attentive. If you have any pressing work problems or other things on your mind, schedule the tasting for another day.

Do not eat a heavy meal or fill your stomach up with snacks, prior to your session. Neither should you starve yourself. You should be hungry enough to enjoy the session, but not too hungry to just gobble it down without recognizing if it is actually tasty. Remember that it is a full course meal that you will have. So, make sure your evening is entirely devoted to the tasting. You’ll probably also have to cancel any other plans later that day, as you will just want to crash into bed and snooze, once it’s over.

Don’t be too intimidating at the service

There are some couples who stare and keep such a close watch, that it can seem creepy to the waiters at the service. Don’t feel like you have to be so attentive, that you intimidate the people who serve you. Stay composed and relaxed, and try to enjoy the experience of how it is. If you aren’t happy with the dried out cheese, wilted vegetables or shabby presentation, don’t look upset or openly cringe. If there are things that you aren’t happy about, don’t worry. This is not the actual thing, there is scope for improvement once you give your suggestions. You can even consider switching to another vendor if you are entirely unhappy with what you experienced at the tasting.

Don’t go overboard with the drinks

You will usually be served wine or another beverage at your tasting, and the same will usually be served at your wedding. Don’t drink too much, so you become tipsy and can’t focus anymore. Just take small sips to identify how it goes with the rest of the meal. Remember that you should have a clear head to identify how the tasting is, and too much alcohol can damage the possibilities. Not only is it good manners to not become inebriated, but it is also essential to the purpose of why you are at the place.

Be discrete when you discuss things

We know that you may want to discuss certain factors with the rest of your group, before making a verdict. There may be other things that you want to draw their attention to. If these are negative factors, don’t be too loud or overly critical when discussing it. Discuss it briefly, and keep it on a positive note. Don’t hesitate to check with your catering in-charge, if its a factor that really bothers you. But don’t get into an argument or be too patronizing about it.

Most people are open to positive criticism, but may not be too happy if you only have negative things to say. As with any other social situation, mind your manners when you voice your opinion. Be courteous and clear, but do not insult or embarrass with what you say.

Be honest with your feedback

If you enjoyed your meal, it isn’t likely that you will have much trouble saying so. Now, if it were the other way around, we know why you may feel a little hesitant to say so. Nevertheless, you should provide honest feedback. If there is anything that you would have liked to be different, make sure your chef or waiter knows. This way, they can rectify it on an actual day and make sure you are happy.

Whether it is about the food, the presentation, or the service, telling your vendor at your tasting session will help him move things around to meet your expectations. Nonetheless, be mindful of the way you say things. Even if it is a negative opinion, try to focus on the positives as well, so you don’t sound like you are reprimanding them. Be diplomatic, offer suggestions on how they can improve it, and appreciate all that you liked. This is just being plain courteous.

Tip the waiter who served you

The fact that you are at a tasting session shouldn’t alter the way you normally behave at dinner. It is in fact pretty similar, considering that there were people who served you and who were attentive to your needs, at your tasting. Even if it is a complimentary tasting, it is customary to tip the waiter who attended to you. So, make sure you do it. Do it as you would do when you eat out otherwise. Consider the total amount the meal would cost, and tip the same percentage that you would do normally for that price.

Personally thank the chef

The main person behind the scenes is obviously, the chef! You will be in touch with the catering manager or venue manager. However, remember that they are not the ones who are actually responsible for whipping up delicious food. This happens in the kitchen. The chef and his team are the star players in creating the flavors that your guests will feast on. So, it is good wedding tasting etiquette to meet them and thank them for their efforts. It is not necessary but is nice if you do so.

Request to meet personally with the chef, and appreciate and thank him for his work. This nice little gesture can do amazing things for your wedding. The chef will remember you for how nice you were, and will add that extra dose of care into his dishes for your wedding day. This can be really worth that little effort of yours.

If everything goes well and you enjoyed your tasting session, that is one thing you can strike off your wedding planning list. However, if the opposite happens, and you hated it, what do you do? If you haven’t signed the contract, you can just walk away from there and keep searching for a better option. If you have already signed the contract, consider the following options.

  • Provide specific details about what you didn’t like and ask them what they can do to change it
  • Be polite, but firm and vocal when you insist you want something changed, as it isn’t up to your expectations. It is right to expect your caterer to make adjustments to please your palate. So, don’t shy away from it and settle for food you aren’t happy with.
  • Do you have suggestions on how they can improve things? Tell them about it and see if they can accommodate these changes.
  • If they offer different menu items, make sure to taste them before you approve the change.

Visit us at Best for Bride for more wedding-related tips, advice, and shopping needs. You can find everything you need, including vendors for your wedding in our list of services. Check out our website today, and move one step closer to having a fantastic wedding day.