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Tasting the yummy offerings for your wedding reception menu is a lot of fun, but like dealing with almost any wedding vendor, there is a certain etiquette to how you approach it. You want to get off on the right foot with your caterer or venue, since they're going to be the ones responsible for creating amazing food on your most important day.
If your wedding reception venue handles the catering, like at a country club or hotel, you'll have all the menus from the beginning. In fact, that menu may even be the reasons you chose that wedding location. They'll have a tasting policy and it will be clearly stated.
When you use an outside caterer, each company's policies will be different. It's important to ask from the beginning whether they offer a free tasting, or not. If not, will they allow you to pay for a tasting, if you really want to do one? Find that out at the outset so you have realistic expectations.
If you're partaking in a wedding menu tasting, keep in mind these three things not to do:
1. Do not expect to get something for nothing. Don't expect to do a free tasting prior to signing a contract for the caterer's services. If they have a restaurant, try the food there. If you're considering them as your caterer, and you want to hear more about their food, talk to former clients and search online for reviews.
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2. Don't ask to taste everything on the menu. Be specific and reasonable when you choose what you want to taste. Some vendors will tell you exactly how many of each item (appetizers, soups, salads, entrées, desserts) you may try, and let you choose your favorites from the list. No matter what, the caterer's menu is probably extensive, and you're not going to try everything. In fact, you should select the fewest possible number of different menu items to try because the whole purpose is to narrow down your options and select what you actually want to eat.
3. Don't take a whole peanut-gallery of folks to your tasting. The tasting is for you and your fiancé, and your moms if you want to include them. It's not an opportunity for a free dinner with all your bridesmaids. Besides, do you really care what everybody else thinks? You shouldn't. The food you serve on your wedding day should be things that you and your new spouse both enjoy.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show "Wedding Island," about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques. Sandy's book "How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional," will be released on March 1st, but is available online for pre-orders now where books are sold.