Monday, March 1, 2010

tasty affair

Wondering what to expect at your tasting?  Here is one couple's account from the guest blogging bride...

One of the aspects of wedding planning that excited me most about our year-and-a-half long engagement was our tasting. Most tastings I had heard about involved the bride, groom and respective parents having a meal with one or two other couples getting married at the same venue. Usually the story includes one parent complaining about something loudly. This experience sounds ok, but I think our tasting exceeded such an event. Since our wedding caterer serves multiple venues in the area, our tasting was quite epic. Basically, it was a wedding reception with no ceremony and 250+ strangers at one of the premier wedding venues in the Philadelphia area.

When we got to the venue for the tasting, there was a line out the door. We stood in the cold with other couples as everyone checked in. I immediately started stereotyping people to guess who was getting married at our venue and who was more organized than me. (Some people had their wedding binders in hand. I don't even own one thanks to my love of Google Docs) Once we made our way inside, we got nametags that indicated which venue we were hosting our wedding. This made the stereotyping even more explicit! From all my research, I have a good idea of how much these venues cost and the fancy looking couples indeed were getting married at the fancy venues. (There were a few odd exceptions that involved tattooed couples.) I smiled knowingly at couples with matching nametags to ours.

There were still parents in attendance at this type of tasting. Part of our wedding agreement included two complimentary admissions to the tasting, covering me and my fiance. Other guests had to pay a fee. The parents took their role at the tasting very seriously. They stood guard at the kitchen for the first taste of each of the passed hors d'ouevres. They strategically covered their plates with one of everything from the stations. Not being nearly as aggressive, my fiance and I tried exactly one passed hors d'ouevre (which we shared) and about three different stations' offerings. We knew we wouldn't have sushi at our wedding, so why bother waiting in line? Basically, we spent the cocktail hour having some wine and beer, checking out a binder with fabric samples for our tablecloths, and oohing and ahhing at the venue and people in general.

We then proceeded into the ballroom where we sat at a 10-top table with other couples getting married at our same venue. This was certainly the most valuable part of the event. We exchanged when we were getting married, when we got engaged, some vendor recommendations, answered each others questions and compared notes over the food. I even got everyone to write down their email addresses so I can forward them photos I've found of other weddings at our site. I'm sure if people are into it, we'll continue our dinner discussion over email.

The caterer had provided us all with a list of all the food available that evening, so we could keep track of what we were eating and make comments. The seated portion of the night involved three courses - fish, poultry and beef. Each course came with three-four different preparations of the selected meat, along with three-four different sides. (I have to be honest and say that there was a disappointing amount of carrots as sides.) It was all incredibly tasty, but overwhelming to have that much food! At least they spaced the courses out pretty well and cut the food into bite-sized portions. During the entire dinner portion, there was still an open bar too!

Then came dessert. There was a section of the ballroom near our table that had been curtained off. We deciphered that this is where the chocolate and caramel fountains would be, and sure enough, they were revealed with excitement! There was also a fresh-baked cookie station, mini milkshakes being passed around, and the cake samples. I think there were about six different cakes brought to the table in little slices. As far as the food went, the dessert was a highlight for me!

A typical question following such an extravagant event will logically be "So what did you pick for your menu?!". As comprehensive as the night was, we did not pick a single thing from the tasting to be served at our wedding. We were very attached to a specific, casual (Read: inexpensive) menu that the caterers offer, and the tasting was a chance for them to showcase their fancier items, enticing brides, grooms and well-to-do parents into selecting upgrades.

The tasting was a chance for us to be assured that our caterers handle cooking good food for large numbers of people. They proved themselves that night. Will our wedding include a sushi bar, flank steak, a signature fruit martini, or a caramel fountain? No. Will it have solid, tasty food choices made by professionals? Yes. Do I feel like I was pampered for a night? Yes! Am I excited for my wedding with corn on the cob, hamburgers and a homemade cake buffet? Even more than before!

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