Post # 1
So I guess I always thought that you went around and did tastings several places and then decided on the food you liked best. And based on what I’ve heard from my friends who live in other places, I guess that does happen in some places… But what I’m experiencing is caterers just sending me a quote and wanting me to commit based on I guess price. Tastings are apparently for after you have committed and paid the hefty deposit just to decide which of their dishes you’ll be serving.
I looked up all the approved caterers for my venue on weddingwire and they ALL have basically all 5 star “you’re so great, we’re so happy, thanks so much!!!!!” reviews. So that is no help.
I don’t know what to do! How the heck do you pick a caterer without being able to taste their food first??
Alternate question: where can I go to find out what the unhappy people thought about these places? I’m sure there are unhappy people somewhere.
Post # 3
That’s a tricky one — our wedding was at a restaurant so we were able to try the food beforehand, plus we knew the reputation of the venue. I’d suggest asking for references, preferably brides who had weddings there recently, i.e. within the last 2-3 months. Then call and talk to them. You might also try posting here on the local area boards in case any other DC brides know your venue. Another idea is to talk with your other vendors if you’ve chosen any, since others in the wedding industry may be familiar with your venue, like your florist, photographer, or officiant. Good luck!
Post # 4
i hear ya! we booked our place without tasting, and it was probally a mistake. we booked in dec to get a good deal, and then we were able to attend their huge taste tasting in may, and the food kinda sucks ;(. And now were stuck since we already paid so much, and we sure in heck were not going to try to change everything 6 months out!
Post # 5
Do you have a choice of caterers?
One company tried to do this to me and I asked for a tasting first because I was trying to decide between them and our competitors and they let us.
However! We had a really bad experience compared to the other caterer, and so chose the best one. I personally found that the one who let us taste first put customer service first – they really sold to us and did everything to ‘win us over’. With the one who required us to sign first, we felt as though it was a bit ‘once you’ve signed, we’re not trying to sell anymore’.
Funny though, because the one we didn’t like had AMAZING reviews. I wrote a bad review and the guy actually emailled me to tell me to take it down. No apology for the bad experience – nothing. But I think it’s really important to have negative reviews on the internet so people in a position like yourselves have a full picture of a company.
My advice would be to have a tasting if you can.
Post # 6
Mine is a Destination Wedding wedding so no chance to taste the food. Basically I’ve been going off of how the people in the catering office have been treating me. There really isn’t anything I can do about how the food tastes but the menu sounds good and the people i’ve been dealing with are awesome so I feel confident.
Post # 7
Some caterers will do a tasting for a fee, and in some cases the tasting fee is applied to your balance once you’ve made a booking, so if your tasting is $100 then you get $100 off your total bill once you sign a contract.
PissedConsumer.com is a good place to look for negative reviews, although there may not be a lot of local/smaller businesses there. Or just google the caterer name + review and see what pops up.
In the DC area, we used Corcoran Caterers; not sure if they are on your venue’s approved list but honestly we could not have been happier with them, both for the quality of the food and for the service. They were on the pricier side compared to some other vendors but we felt we got our money’s worth. If they are a potential vendor for you, PM me and I can share their contact information, along with our menu and the things we had at our tasting that we did and did not like.
We chose them based on their timely responses to my inquiry, as our venue had an approved caterers list and I trusted that the venue had done a fair bit of pre-screening. Because I trusted the venue, the tasting became more important when it was time to make final menu choices rather than earlier in the process when we were selecting the caterer. I assumed that, if you’re in a certain price range, you have to have a certain standard of quality just to stay in business; if you’re charging $110/person for sloppy nasty food, you’re not going to be around very long. In some cities, it’s a pretty safe assumption to make, because there is a lot of competition, and a bad caterer won’t be around very long. You may not care for every single menu item but once you hit a specific price range, it should be a safe bet that the food will be nice and there will be enough choices to build your own specific menu.
You can also ask your venue to share with you negative and positive feedback from other brides.
Post # 8
We did a tasting of two of our options, and could have done more. It was a good thing, because I thought the less expensive would have unawesome food, but it was actually really good! That combined with their excellent customer service, and we were sold…but I don’t think I would have or could have chosen them without a tasting. I bet if you ask, they’ll do one.
Post # 9
You choose by reputation. If their food sucks, you’ll know from the reviews.
Post # 10
We booked without a tasting. We heard from most places we looked that they don’t do tastings beforehand because then everyone would just do tastings without being seriously interested. We lucked out with the food being awesome, though.
Post # 11
I have hired caterers for charity functions who don’t normally do tastings. I handled it by asking them to notify me when they were catering an event, putting some of the food aside, and I would come pick it up for my own private tasting. If they want your business they have to find some way to accomodate your needs.
There’s no way I would hire a caterer without tasting the food. Website reviews can be faked too easily.
Post # 12
two of our potential caterers had restaurants so we tried the food (one is just a basic deli.so not wedding food at all but it gave us an idea)
in the end one if the guys was a jerk and pretty unprofessional about returning calls etc so even though he was ‘the preffered’ option from the venue we went with tje nicer, easy to reach, great food guy…and as luck would have it the original caterer is getting kicked off the prffered list!
Post # 13
we got stuck with that also, we went to 5 different caterers no one would let us taste food prior to selection one woman told me”look at it this way if you wanted a free meal friday night you could come here and say yes we are planning a wedding we want to try food, never book with them and just leave” i get that,but… i argued so much that “upon deposit if we dont like the food we get our non-refundable deposit back” because they are not a restaurant they cant just make one plate for you for food tasting – i get that, but i even asked- well your doing a wedding later today, you must have extra food can i pay you for a plated meal? you know to try before we pick you, i even offered to pay the $85 because the event that day was $85perperson, she still said no- i didnt understand why i couldn’t have done that. Fortunately we did have a wedding expo at a place we were looking into and they had all the ourdurves they were amazing and ive heard from a few people the food was REALLY good. so its really the luck of the draw…
Post # 14
DO NOT rely o Yelp! I would ask the caterer for other clients whom you can contact to ask about the service.
Post # 15
That’s tough, I didn’t try the food but mine was a restauarnt too. So I technically have tried their food.
Post # 16
Honestly, I would never book a caterer without trying the food first, and I would be concerned about the quality of a place that required you to commit and put down a nonrefundable deposit first. Now, tastings aren’t free, but that’s ok. I was more than willing to throw down $50-$100 to taste the food first. It wasn’t a full tasting, more of a sample – we didn’t pick out things to try, it was just a general “Here’s what we can do” sort of thing. The full tastings to pick out the menu aren’t till Sept. for us. Online reviews have become a joke – certain sites will allow vendors to dispute and pull negative reviews. Also, vendors have started offering discounts for 5 star reviews. Hell, my apartment complex gave residents $50 off rent if we’d give them a 5 star review on some rental ratings site.