How Many Food Options Should We Have to Accommodate Guests With Allergies?

Etiquette, Food & Drink
wedding menu ideas

Photo: Kristyn Hogan

Planning the menu for your wedding is one of the most fun parts of the process. Tasting fancy hors d'oeuvres and mixing up a signature cocktail? Sign us up! But there are also some logistics to keep in mind, especially if you or your guests have food allergies. If there are guests who have to follow restricted diets, how many menu options should you offer to accommodate them? Our experts chime in.

The easiest way to accommodate guests with different food allergies and dietary restrictions is to work with your caterer to create a menu item that covers all the bases. Do you have a few guests with shellfish allergies and a group of vegetarians? Putting a tasty veggie-based option on the menu will appeal to both groups, even if the other choice is a surf-and-turf duet. Even with a dairy allergy mixed in, a hearty plate of vegetables, grains, and a tasty (butter- and milk-free!) sauce would definitely satisfy.

For guests who have allergies that can be harder to accommodate (to things like tree nuts, soy, or even sesame), get the list of what they can't eat and share it with your caterer. You could very well still serve them that delicious grilled tuna, but skip the sesame seed crust, or replace the cheesy mashed potatoes with rice or additional veggies. Just be sure to request that the plates for guests with allergies are prepared with particular care, and are transported separately to avoid cross-contamination. You may also want to let these guests know what each menu item includes (especially if you're asking for meal choices on your RSVP cards!) so they can pick beef with a wine reduction over chicken with a cream sauce.

When it comes to hors d'oeuvres, it's always a good idea to have at least one option that meets major allergy needs: something that's vegetarian, something dairy-free, something gluten-free, and something nut-free. These bases are usually covered by standard offerings, from caprese salad bites to beef skewers to shrimp cocktail, but talk to your caterer about how they might tweak items on their menu if you're worried about having enough options. As long as you've made sure to provide an allergen-free entrée option, having just a single hors d'oeuvre that the guest in question can eat is acceptable.

See more: Honeymooning with a Food Allergy: 4 Tips for a Healthy Trip

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