Bride’s Guide: Planning for Dietary Restrictions in Your Reception Menu
Food allergies are more prevalent than you might think, with more than 10% of Americans having at least one substance that causes unwanted symptoms. Dietary restrictions abound as more people take a holistic approach to health that includes the right nutrient balance.
Here are four ways to incorporate them into your reception menu to accommodate your guests.
1. Consider “Double-Duty” Dishes
Planning a menu with items that please vegans, keto dieters, gluten-free folk and those with nut allergies can leave you wondering if you should serve your ice sculpture as the main course. However, you don’t have to plan a special plate to accommodate every dietary restriction.
Look for double-duty meals, such as a cauliflower crust pizza with colorful veggie toppings and cashew cheese, to please the gluten-free and vegan crowd in one shot. Many salads accommodate multiple diets, especially if you leave the dressing on the side — some folks have sensitivity to certain vegetable oils.
2. Talk to Your Caterer
Your caterer should know how to manage dietary restrictions. Those working in a food service environment must undergo training to obtain their handler's card. However, reviewing your guests’ unique needs with your vendor doesn't hurt.
Pay particular attention to allergies. Someone with gluten sensitivity might not grow severely ill from eating a small amount of this wheat protein, but those with celiac disease could end up in the hospital. You don’t want tragedy to mar your big day — if in doubt with something like peanuts, leave it out.
3. Bring Plenty of Supplies
What if you plan to DIY a backyard affair? You don’t need a food handler’s card, but you should educate yourself about cross-contamination, especially if you plan to serve banquet-style. You need extra barbecue tongs and spatulas to ensure people don’t use the same utensil for two dishes, introducing allergens into the mix and potentially sickening another guest.
LIkewise, label all dishes with their ingredients. Guests with sensitivities should know to ask, but a caring host spares them the trouble of hunting down the chef before they can eat.
4. Address It in Your Invitations
Address dietary restrictions in your invitations to help you plan your reception menu. This step becomes even more vital if you don’t see some invitees often. If you haven’t seen your great Aunt Tilly since you were 5, you probably have no clue if she’s allergic to shellfish.
Include a full line where you ask guests to describe their restrictions. There’s a big difference between someone who prefers doing keto and another who goes into anaphylactic shock from the unexpected lobster in their mac ‘n cheese.
Plan a Safe Reception Menu
Food allergies abound. You want to be a good, accommodating host for your guests. Follow the four tips above to plan for dietary restrictions in your reception menu.