One of the highlights of wedding planning is getting to taste your food ahead of time.

Most wedding venues offer a tasting menu in order for the couple to pick out different food options and make sure they like them for their reception. The tasting typically includes a first course and main course, along with a wedding cake, if it is included.

“You probably want to have something exciting and interesting for your guests, without being too wild with flavors,” said Ashley Fonzo, director of sales and events for Irem Clubhouse in Dallas, Pennsylvania. “You are trying to accommodate many different pallets.”

At Irem, tastings are typically scheduled six months before the wedding, or farther out if your custom invitations will have the menu printed on them.

Irem accommodates most dietary restrictions, including lactose, nut and celiac allergies. Ashley recommends listing a vegetarian option on your menu. Most guests will write on the invitation if they have a severe allergy to a food, or you can put a note in the envelope if you suspect that one or more of your guests have allergies. “I wouldn’t do anything beyond that,” Ashley said. “If one of the options is surf and turf and you give the guest the option of selecting ‘other,’ they may ask for double beef or fish. You don’t want to open yourself up to a million options.”

Most couples will include the menu in the invitation, so they can give the venue a final dinner count. Guests can choose which entrée they would like to eat on the response card. “When it’s a station or buffet dinner, I’ll prep the guests and put a card on the table of what is in each station, so that they know before they get there,” Ashley said.

She prefers a sit-down dinner to stations or a buffet. “When you have stations, they are typically available for an hour,” Ashley said. “You are constantly up and down. Sometimes that takes socialization time away from your reception.”

What about the cake? Irem offers a list of approved bakers, one of which will come and do a tasting with the couple at the same time as the food tasting. Other bakeries may have you come to them.

Ashley suggests looking at Pinterest or at the baker’s website to get an idea of what style wedding cake you want.

“I would bring ideas of what you want the cake to look like and the flavor you prefer,” she said. “Bring two or three styles with you. The baker can tell you what works best.”

The same goes for the food. “If you’re doing a tasting and want to change sauces, you can talk to the chef to share your personal taste,” she said. “He will be open to suggestions and tell you what’s best for your group.”

A tasting typically lasts about 45 minutes to an hour. ‘’We set it up like the couple is coming for a meal,” she said. “The entrée plates will come with different side options to choose from, but ultimately, the choice is yours!”