How To Deal With Dietary Restrictions For Your Wedding Guest List

November 12, 2014 • Tips For Brides, Wedding Day, Wedding Tasks, Wedding to-do • Views: 4625

Photo Credit: Chris Giles

Photo Credit: Chris Giles

Planning your wedding reception is probably one of the most exciting yet stressful things you will ever do. Ingeniously seat the relatives known for causing public brawls — check. Convince bridesmaids to wear peach taffeta–check. Choose a first-dance song both you and your fiancé agree upon…finally — check.
But the one thing you might not have considered was the problem of planning a menu for the party. Perhaps your cousins are gluten-free, a few aunts can’t have dairy, and your brother’s girlfriend is vegetarian (or is that vegan?) — not to mention anyone else who might be kosher, on the South Beach diet, or have food allergies. It’s enough to make your head spin!
Though it is virtually impossible to plan a single meal that will be satisfying, affordable, and meet the dietary needs of everyone in attendance, there are a few ways to plan your wedding menu without going insane.

Offer Three Meal Options

Unless you have the budget of the Prince of Wales, you simply can’t offer each guest an individualized platter. What you can do, however, is provide at least three options for the entree. Consider having a vegetarian dish, a chicken dish, and either a fish or beef dish. With plenty of vegetable sides, these three options should cover all your guests’ requirements. Most people with dietary restrictions won’t expect you to completely cater to their needs, and by offering a variety, you are being a gracious host who is conscious of people’s limitations.
In addition to the main dishes, you can also include various sides. Steamed vegetables drizzled with olive oil, two different salads, or baked sweet potatoes are some dishes that should provide even the most restrictive dieter with something nourishing. This way, even if your guest cannot have a full meal, they will be able to find enough to eat until they get home.

Make Use of the Hors d’Oeuvres

Hors d’oeuvres tend to be significantly less expensive and offer more variety than entrees, easily satisfying everyone’s palate and needs. Offering four or five options will give you the flexibility to ensure that at least one is gluten-free, one is dairy-free, one is vegan, and so on. It will then be up to your guests to mix and match the different hors d’oeuvres to find a suitable and varied selection. Knowing in advance how many people follow a particular diet will help decide how many options and quantities to offer.

Turn to Your Caterer For Help

Because of the wide variety of common dietary restrictions these days, general understanding and knowledge of food sensitivities and other dietary requirements has increased. With the improved awareness, caterers and other professional cooks have become especially accustomed to preparing menus and foods that accommodate most, if not all, people’s culinary sensitivities. Your wedding caterer is the first person you should solicit help from, as he or she will most likely be able to give you ideas for entrees, sides, hors d’oeuvres, and desserts that will be a delicious addition to your menu while still respecting the various dietary restrictions. A caterer can also help you plan a great menu that satisfies not only the palate, but your budget, too.

Ask Your Guests

Whether you expect half of your guests to be kosher or just one uncle with a peanut allergy, those who have a dietary restriction tend to be excellent sources of insight into meal preparation. If you are unsure about what a gluten-free diet entails or you’re looking for more exciting options than salad for vegetarians, asking your loved ones for their suggestions can be enlightening. Your guests will appreciate the fact that you are trying your best to accommodate their restrictions.
Planning a wedding can be exceptionally stressful, and trying to oblige the many dietary restrictions that are bound to come up can make you seriously consider eloping. But rather than allowing the menu to overwhelm you, just remember to add enough variety to keep everyone happy. After all, it’s hard to complain with a mouthful of crispy green beans sauteed in garlic olive oil with a dusting of toasted almond slivers!

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