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As your wedding guests bite into the great food at your reception, you hope they experience the meticulously crafted flavor profile your caterer prepared. You don't want to have one of those guests experience a painful, potentially dangerous allergic reaction to that food.
You also want your guests who keep kosher to be able to eat a kosher meal at your wedding. You want your guests who are vegetarian or vegan to be able to eat more than just sides.
Recognizing and accommodating your guests' dietary restrictions-whether they result from food allergies, lifestyle choices, or religious convictions is an important part of hosting a wedding reception. Here are four tips for how you can learn about your guests' dietary restrictions, how you should have food prepared for them, and how you can let guests know about your menu's ingredients.
1. Ask Potential Caterers About Their Experience With Dietary Restrictions
Most caterers have experience preparing food according to guests' dietary needs. However, it's important to chat with multiple caterers, ask them about their cooking and baking specialties, and figure out if their previous experience matches what you want at your reception dinner.
For example, many of your wedding guests may not eat gluten, either because of a gluten sensitivity or a dietary preference. While you might not want a gluten-free wedding cake, you can hire a baker who knows how to prepare desserts with rice flour and other gluten-free ingredients. That way, you can accommodate those guests with an alternative, gluten-free dessert.
2. Request Information About Allergies and Food Restrictions
As you design and send out the invitations to your wedding, consider requesting information about your guests' dietary needs. Your invitations can ask about whether guests have food allergies, need kosher meals, or eat meat and cheese. Once you've received your wedding's RSVPs and your guests' information, notify your caterer.
Once you know how many people have dietary restrictions, you, your spouse-to-be, and your caterer can work on creating a menu that accommodates everyone's needs and meets your expectations. Then you can notify your guests about what you plan to serve. Some couples send out a menu, complete with a list of ingredients, or they put this information up on their wedding website.
3. Set Up a Protocol to Avoid Cross-Contamination
Now that you've done your due diligence, make sure the food at your reception is served and labeled appropriately to avoid cross-contamination. What's the point of having your baker create a nut-free dessert if it's next to the peanut butter mousse on the serving table?
Create separate stations for meals and desserts that are for guests with food allergies, and put hand sanitizer on all of the tables. Label items that are gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, and kosher. If necessary, serve guests with specific dietary restrictions-especially those with severe, life-threatening allergies-before the main dinner.
4. Don't Overextend Yourself During Your Reception Dinner
If you follow the tips above, you've done everything possible to ensure that your guests are happy and safe on your wedding day. Do whatever you can to prepare for the big day, but on your wedding day itself, put your worries aside.
Even on their special day, many couples bend over backwards to accommodate all of their guests. However, as soon as it's time for dinner, step back and let your catering staff run the reception while you celebrate your union.
Remember that it isn't your fault if some guests don't like onions, or if other guests didn't communicate that they don't eat meat. Avoid overextending yourself during the reception and you'll avoid extra, unnecessary stress on your wedding day.
McHale's Events and Catering hosts weddings in Ohio and Kentucky and offers a versatile selection of menu items that can accommodate all of your guests. Contact us to learn more about our catering service and wedding planning today. Our wedding caterers and pastry chefs have experience dealing with a wide array of dietary restrictions.