Photo: Kristyn Hogan
One of the easiest (and most fun!) parts of planning a wedding? The menu! There's no other time where you'll get to sample all sorts of delicious options and assemble the celebratory meal of your dreams. But in this day and age, chances are you've invited a number of guests who are gluten-free, paleo, vegan, allergic to nuts or shellfish, or follow a countless number of other dietary restrictions. So how do you figure out what to feed them? Our experts break it down, with tips from a caterer to make sure your menu is as crowd-pleasing as possible.
First of all, don't let your guests' dietary restrictions stress you out. Accommodating your guests is easier than it sounds, and doesn't have to mean creating an entirely separate menu. Says Heather Bublick, owner and lead catering coordinator for Feast & Imbibe in Chicago, "During cocktail hour, offer a variety of options that cover multiple dietary restrictions and still appeal to meat-eaters, like our green tomato gazpacho shooters (which is vegan and dairy- and gluten-free) or plantain tostones (again, vegan, dairy- and gluten-free!)." Serving delicious options that don't scream "dietary restriction" will make sure those guests don't feel singled out.
For a family-style dinner, ask your caterer to prepare a hearty veggie- and grain-based side dish that can serves as a main course for guests with special diets, so they're not left loading up on grilled asparagus and wishing there was something else to eat. "We make a mushroom trio, which combines three types of wild mushrooms with quinoa, that's a delicious vegan and gluten-free dish that's still approachable and enjoyed by everyone," says Bublick. "You don't have to serve guests with dietary restrictions something that the rest of your guests wouldn't want to eat." No squeaky tofu here!
For a seated dinner, be sure to offer your guests chicken or fish and a vegetarian option, so that those who don't eat red meat will have something to lean toward. Then let your caterer know if you'll need a few plates of something more restricted than a veggie-heavy pasta dish. You could also choose a vegetarian option that is also vegan and gluten-free to cover all your bases, like a seared cauliflower steak. If a guest of honor, such as the bride or groom or a member of the wedding party, has dietary restrictions, this is an instance where you should go out of your way to make a special selection.
"When you're choosing options for guests with dietary restrictions, pick something that you would enjoy eating," advises Bublick. "A dietary restriction doesn't mean the food shouldn't be delicious!"