A Quick Guide to Creating an Allergy-Friendly Wedding Menu

Wedding menu allergies etiquette

Photo: Marisa Holmes

Most people have (or know someone with) some kind of food allergy or dietary restriction. Between vegetarian and veganism, Kosher rules, gluten or peanut allergies, and everything in between, it may be near-impossible to create a wedding menu with items that every guest can eat.

But that's why there are options! It's easy to accommodate close friends and family's needs with multiple hors d'oeuvres and several main course selections. Still, no two guests or dietary restrictions are alike. To help you wisely plan your wedding meal options, we compiled a short guide to allergy-friendly catering.

Gluten-Free Guests
Whether your guest has full-blown Celiac disease or has a serious intolerance, they'll probably want to eat more than salad greens all night. Ask your chef or caterer to create one gluten-free (or nut-free, vegetarian, and so on) appetizer and one diet-appropriate entree, says New York City caterer Olivier Cheng. (Delicious dishes like steak and sautéed kale count!) This is a nice inclusion, especially if the gluten-free guest is close family or a member of the wedding party. Whatever their allergy, they're probably used to having just one or two options on a menu, so don't feel the need to overhaul your entire menu for them. Do, however, consider asking for their input on what dishes are most amenable to their allergy. And for dessert, give them a sweet surprise by putting a few no-wheat cupcakes on the dessert table next to the traditional wedding cake.

Vegetarian Guests
Chances are there will be several friends and family members that are vegetarian, or even vegan. Though it's not an allergy, folks that strictly adhere to this diet can build up an intolerance to meat, so it's important to cater to their preferences. Again, talk to your caterer about them and devise a plan. Most couples choose to offer a pasta or some other vegetarian-friendly meal option on their menu cards these days. Generally, the vegetarian option runs at a lower cost than a meat option, so it won't jack up the catering costs too much to do so. Some couples also ask guests to list any dietary restrictions on the invitation's reply card.

General Food Allergies and Religious Concerns
People with dangerous food allergies typically take appropriate precautions. If you know of close friends and family members with food allergies, you can mention it to your caterer so that they can either avoid that ingredient or let you know where they plan to use it so that you can alert the necessary people.

In the event of multiple guests with varying allergies and dietary restrictions, buffets are the best option, as guests can pick and choose what works for them, filling up on vegetarian lasagna and skipping the chicken with peanut sauce. If you know you have guests who keep Kosher, for example, inform your caterer and they can prepare the food properly and set it up in a separate station.

Regardless of what you decide, make sure the servers at your wedding are well-informed of the menu and its ingredients. That way, you're covered should one of your guests ask about a particular dish the evening of the wedding.

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