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Planning your wedding menu is a delectable chance to indulge in your favorite foods — until your guests begin to weigh in with their array food allergies and hypersensitivities. In an ideal world, every attendee would be able to enjoy your cuisine without fear of anaphylaxis or hives, but the reality isn't quite so simple. Our etiquette experts weigh in on how to host a buffet-style dinner without provoking allergic reactions or cross-contaminating potentially hazardous foods.
Though each individual guest should try to refrain from eating dishes that could produce an allergic reaction, it is your job as the host to make your guests' experience as enjoyable — and uncomplicated — as possible. Attempting to create a menu that pleases every guest's dietary needs is an impossible task, and one that will send your caterer or chef into a tailspin. As it so happens, a family-style buffet dinner can actually provide a better opportunity for allergy-stricken guests to enjoy foods that suit their diet than a simple sit-down meal with beef, chicken, or vegetarian options.
First, combine your data on your guests' allergies, and determine if there are any common trigger foods. Allergies to various nuts, dairy, shellfish, and wheat are particularly widespread and can produce serious reactions, so be sure to note if a large number of your attendees share one of these sensitivities. If so, you make sure to exclude the offending ingredient or ingredients from your menu. Next, consider creating various "stations" dedicated to various dietary preferences, such as a section with one or two gluten-free options, a section with a nut-free-option, and so on. Provide an individual serving utensil for each dish so no mixing of food occurs. Finally, if any of your dishes do contain an ingredient that may be troublesome for several guests, make a small sign to alert attendees of the ingredient's inclusion. You may not be able to fashion a wedding menu that completely covers every allergy and dietary concern, but providing information and separation of problem foods is a thoughtful gesture for your guests.