Last week, I had the pleasure of joining a couple at their tasting. A sweet and (savory) perk of the job! It got me thinking that not everyone has the luxury of having a professional palate at their tasting table. The couple appreciated the questions I asked and conversations I initiated, which made me realize this would be a good opportunity to prepare you for this fun wedding planning task.

Tastings vary depending on the caterer or venue you choose. Some caterers are hired on referral and reputation alone, and offer you a tasting closer to your wedding date. While other caterers will invite you to taste their food well in advance. Restaurants that have rooms for weddings and events will simply encourage couples to come in for dinner (at the couples’ expense) to try the food on their own.

Tastings are a delight for the senses and an opportunity to observe your professionals in action. Be sure to ask how long it will run and schedule it at a time when you can relax and enjoy it – don’t schedule it between other vendor appointments, when you’ll feel rushed.

You’ll also want to ask how many people you can bring with you. Find out what you will be trying and what else is available. It’s okay to request that you see printed menu options in advance and if something piques your curiosity, ask to try it!  Also ask if you can you taste wines to see how they pair with your course and sample signature cocktails.

If you don’t have a planner and can bring additional people (4-6 people total is not uncommon), I’d suggest bringing someone who is open to eating anything. For example, if you’re a vegetarian, bring a meat-eater; if you don’t eat shellfish, invite someone who does; and if you’re on a strict pre-wedding diet, I am tempted to urge you to let it go for one night, or bring someone who can sample the desserts on your behalf. You will want people whose opinions you trust and those who are going to share their feedback honestly and constructively. Be curious, ask questions and survey all of your options!

Bring a notebook, a camera, your fiance, an appetite and enjoy!