Gluten free, dairy free, vegan, vegetarian, nut free, soy free; and that’s just a few. There are so many different variations of dietary restrictions these days that accommodating all of them when it comes to your wedding menu can feel overwhelming. Of course you want to please (and feed) all of your guests, but how do you keep it all straight? How do you know that Aunt Sally at Table 5 will get the gluten free/dairy free Chicken Milanese with mashed potatoes? How do you know that your venue won’t cross contaminate peanuts for your highly allergic best man? How do you know what to put on your RSVP card? Don’t worry, we’ve got it all covered for you below.
1. Talk to Your Venue or Caterer
This is step #1 in your dietary restriction debacle. Communication is always key. Confirm with your venue as soon as you become aware of any serious dietary restrictions needed from you or your guests. (Side note: you see how I said SERIOUS dietary restrictions? Unfortunately, if you know Uncle Tom doesn’t love broccolini, this doesn’t count as a dietary restriction). Most, if not all venues and caterers can provide an alternative meal options for these guests as long as they are notified ahead of time. If you have any guests who are Glatt Kosher, or a restriction similar to this where the food has to be prepared in a separate kitchen, look into ordering some meals from a local Kosher-friendly restaurant, or simply inform your guests in question that a meal cannot be provided for them so they are able to prepare themselves for this type of scenario. Again, communication is KEY!
Something to also note is that with the variety of meal choices and dietary restrictions, your venue may require “indicators” on the guest’s placecards so the banquet staff will know where to place the different entrees. Keep this in mind; as the more options you offer, the more organization is required for this step (and something your wedding planner can definitely handle for you).
2. Preparing Your RSVP Cards
First and foremost, less is more with this. I know it sounds tempting to put the exact kind of steak dish on your RSVP cards (because doesn’t Filet Mignon with Pinot Noir Demi Glaze with Roasted Asparagus and Creamy Cheddar Mashed Potatoes sound delish?), but the more details you place on your RSVP cards, the more you are opening yourself up to your guests picking it apart. It’s just not necessary to have the extra stress of receiving RSVPs back with “Filet but sauce on the side, and can I have the Brussel sprouts from the fish dish instead of the asparagus?”. Your wedding is not a restaurant where guests can customize their dishes.
Now back to the dietary restrictions at hand. Simply list your options, whatever they may be, as Chicken, Fish, or Steak/Beef/Filet, and place a line at the bottom that states “please specify any dietary restrictions”. Leave it at that.
3. There’s Always Room for Dessert
Just when you think you’ve got this dietary restriction thing covered, you hit another roadblock. DESSERT. But don’t fret, with this, you have room to be a little more relaxed. If you’re having a dessert table or cupcakes, make sure everything is labeled appropriately for your gluten free, egg allergy, nut allergy and vegan guests. If you’re doing the traditional wedding cake, either provide an alternative (some fresh fruit usually appeases everyone), or don’t worry about it altogether. Your dietary restriction guests usually make up a small fraction of your total guest count…and it’s just dessert! Another option would be inquiring with the bakery or dessert company you are utilizing and see if they can add-on/substitute some dietary restriction-friendly desserts at no (or reduced) cost.