Embrace a “Free” Menu for Your Reception Meal

It wasn’t that long ago when all a would-be bride had to worry about was the occasional shrimp or peanut allergy when planning her reception dinner. A word of warning to the guest if any dishes contained the offending items, plus a few EpiPens on standby just in case, and problem solved.

Even though there is growing scientific evidence that roughly half of the people who believe they have an allergy actually do not, thanks to errant self-diagnosis or inaccurate testing, for those who genuinely have a food allergy or sensitivity, social gatherings such as a wedding or even just eating out at a restaurant can be an exercise in frustration.

Wedding Buffet

Accommodating guests who need gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, shellfish-free, peanut-free, or whatever-free can become a costly proposition if specific entrees are prepared just for them. Then you have the vegetarians and the vegans, plus any religion-based food prohibitions.

While it may seem like an overwhelming logistical nightmare to the bride, for most caterers it’s another day at the buffet line. Depending on your budget, there are a number of options available to ensure that all your guests will be able to enjoy an inoffensive, non-lethal, unsinful meal.

Here’s an example of a basic meal plan of attack that covers culinary bases: consider a buffet. That way you can select, say, four options that vegetarians can enjoy, four options that vegans can enjoy, and three options that dairy-free guests can enjoy — but that the other guests can enjoy as well. You can offer a mix of meat dishes and non-meat dishes, seafood, veggies, and fruit.

A buffet is a way to take care of everyone without having to make special dishes for just a few.

Wedding Dessert

And if your budget is tight, you can also whittle down the number of entrée options to even one meat, one vegetarian, and one vegan, along with a plentiful assortment of vegetables, breads (both regular and gluten-free), cheeses, and fruits. While it may be simple, the presentation can be beautiful, and you’ll know your guests will not go hungry.

Most bakeries/caterers/pastry chefs now offer gluten-free desserts, so you can accommodate those who prefer to shy away from the traditional wedding cake with small gluten-free or dairy-free pastries.

Whether you opt for a buffet or a traditional sit-down affair, the best way to know what food minefields you need to navigate is to survey your guests. So include a space on your invitation’s response card where guests are instructed to detail their dietary restrictions and if their guest has any dietary restrictions.