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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 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 at. 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 of alcohol can damage the possibilities. Not only is it good manners to not become inebriated, 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 an 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 a 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 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.

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Questions to ask your wedding planner

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Wedding planners are an additional cost to your wedding budget, but when you choose the right person, your wedding will be a breeze. Most of your success depends on how capable the candidate is and also on how well you gel with your wedding planner.

A wedding planner may be professional and experienced, but you will not be satisfied if they do not get your ideas. After all, it is your wedding, and not theirs. So first off, remember this. Don’t hire anyone who

  • is bossy or busy
  • dismisses your ideas or is skeptical about implementing them
  • doesn’t agree to signing a contract and
  • just doesn’t understand you

Before hiring a wedding planner, you should conduct an interview with her. This may be face-to-face or over-the-phone. Here is what you should ask at this interview, and the answers will determine whether you have the right candidate for the job.

Are you available on my wedding day?

There is no point in pursuing the discussion if the planner has another wedding lined up on your wedding day. If your wedding date is not yet confirmed and you really like the person you are talking to, consider fixing your wedding on a day when she is available.

What services do you offer?

Does she work only with a recommended list of vendors, or is she open to interviewing and assisting you with other vendors? Can she design your wedding, plan the ideas and be in charge of everything from sending out invitations to decorating the venue, or will she only assist you while you find and book vendors? Will she handle any booking issues herself? How often will you communicate, and how many meetings can you expect?

If the scope of her services are limited, consider whether you can tackle what is left yourself. If so, this shouldn’t be a problem. Also ask about the team. How many staff members will be on-site on day and how many other weddings they will be working on simultaneously.

How many weddings have you planned already?

The last thing you want to do is to entrust the task to an inexperienced planner. Ask her how long she’s been in business, and obtain references. A good wedding planner will direct you to a number of satisfied clients.

Share your vision for the wedding with her and ask what she can contribute to make it better.

What if there is an emergency?

Ask her how the team tackles emergencies like bad weather or other wedding disasters. If you anticipate a likely problem, ask her how she would prepare. Another big challenge is adhering to budget, how can she ensure this? You should also ask for backup plans, should something unforeseen occur and she cannot personally handle your wedding.

And finally, the fees

Don’t feel shy to ask what her charges are, including all overheads and extras. This will confirm whether the charges are within your means. If your planner will handle vendor payments, ask how this will be done. Will you be paying your planner a lumpsum, or will you have to write out checks to each vendor as and when required?

Once you have all this information, you should have a fair idea of whether this wedding planner is right for your wedding. If not, keep looking.

For more wedding advice and tips, as well as your wedding shopping needs, visit us at Best for Bride.

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The Right steps to finding the Best wedding planner

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The term “wedding planner” broadly encompasses a number of services. Who you choose to hire for your wedding, should depend on what you want them to do. You can select between full service wedding planners and partial services. Either way, the final intention is to reduce your stress as the big day approaches, and have everything on track, in time.

We will now look at how you can find the right wedding planner from the numerous options available.

Full-service planner, a “day of” coordinator or Part-time Professional

If you want a professional to handle all the details of your wedding and you can afford it, choose a full-service planner. They will take care of all tasks including hiring and decorating the venue, creating invitations, booking the florists, caterers and band, all the way up to sending your thank you notes.

A day-of coordinator will take charge for everything on your actual wedding day. If you prefer to plan and execute everything yourself, but want help on the day, this is the ideal choice for you. Part-time professionals can help you perform chosen tasks. For example, you can hire them for décor suggestions, assistance with booking vendors etc. They charge a flat fee for the service they provide, and it is hence less expensive than a full-service planner.

Factors to account for when booking the service

The most important factor when booking a planner is your budget. A full-service planner is expensive, and they may cost up to 10 to 20% of your total budget. A “day-of” coordinator charges a flat fee for his job, and relieves you of the pressure of handling things on the day.

Compare costs of various planners and shortlist the option/options that seem ideal. Make sure that the names on the list are all professionals who are experienced and well-trained. The next part is conducting interviews to zero-in on the right choice.

Interviews and decisions

At the interview, obtain references of past weddings your wedding planner has conducted. Ask them how they work, how they handle emergencies and what ideas they can contribute to your wedding. The basic idea of this discussion is to determine how well the two of you can work together.

You will be spending a lot of time with your wedding planner, so it is important that you strike a rapport right from the start. You should be comfortable discussing your ideas, and he/she should welcome your ideas and be ready to build on it. If you are struggling to convince him/her of what you want, it is obviously not the right choice.

Discuss what will be included in the cost and make sure all the terms and conditions are included in the contract. Once you have finalized everything and your wedding planner has begun the planning process, be in touch regularly and ask for updates on the progress. With the right person to help you, you can be certain that your dream of having the perfect wedding will be realized with no difficulty.

Best for Bride has everything you need from wedding dresses, to décor ideas, invitations and more. Visit us today to get started with your wedding plans today.