Your caterer will create a timeline for big-day food decisions; whether or not you can make adjustments beyond that timeframe is ultimately up to them.

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You've selected the perfect wedding reception menu, complete with a salad, entrée, and dessert—or you thought you did. Now, with the clock ticking down towards your wedding day, you're thinking about making a change. Is it too late? Ultimately, whether or not you can make last-minute changes to your reception menu comes down to your caterer, food availability, and a few other factors. Here, we asked Ann Travis of Ann Travis Events to explain how to decide if it's too late to make adjustments to your big-day meal.

close-up wedding menu on place settings
Credit: Bubblerock

Your Menu Should Be Finalized a Month Before the Wedding Day

Your catering team gave you a timeline for a reason, and that's because they need to order all of the necessary ingredients well in advance of the big day. "Typically, you do not want to wait any later than four weeks in advance to make changes to your wedding menu," says Travis. "The reason being is after four weeks you need to be able to make sure the caterer can get in the quantities you need for each item." Waiting too long will not guarantee that the food you want for your wedding day will be available. And this goes for more than just the food—you'll also want to choose your wines and liquors early, too, to ensure availability.

Know That Late Changes Might Incur a Fee

Many caterers charge a fee for late changes, including adding additional guests after the final headcount is in or swapping an entrée selection for everyone. Before committing to any broad swaps, always discuss your options with your vendor team.

Of course, most caterers are happy to accommodate food allergies or restrictions, so if you've just learned that a friend can't eat nuts or that your cousin's date is actually a vegetarian, your caterer should be able to work with you to find a solution. Still, the sooner you can let them know, the easier these swaps will be.

Think About Your Printed Menu Cards

If you've already ordered menu cards, it's likely too late to make a change—re-printing may not be available at all, and if it is, you'll likely incur hefty rush fees. While you could still give guests the original printed menus, Travis advises against handing out paper goods that no longer perfectly speak to your day. "You want your wedding menu to be a reflection of the overall ambience you are looking to create, such as farm-to-table or perhaps an upscale affair with escargot and filet mignon. Consistency and preparation is key!" she explains.

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