Wedding-Catering Tips: Planning for Food Allergies

Food allergies and restrictions are one more thing that you may need to consider for your wedding, especially if you want to be a good hostess. Fortunately, this doesn't have to completely consume your planning or take a lot of time. The following tips will help you better understand the proper etiquette for the situation along with what your responsibilities are when it comes to allergies.

Tip #1: Avoid major known allergens

It isn't your job to survey each guests on their allergies. As a general rule, those with major allergies are used to handling their needs and avoiding their allergen. If there is a known major allergy, such as your bridesmaid being deadly allergic to peanuts, then proper etiquette does dictate that you avoid any foods or dishes that may contain peanuts. Your bridesmaid may still opt not to eat, but at least they will be able to sit at the reception without fear of an allergic reaction. If you cannot cater to individual allergies, make sure guests are aware of this so they will not try to put in special requests on the day of the wedding. This gives them the heads up that they may need to prepare for their own alternate dining needs ahead of time.

Tip #2: Consider a buffet option

If you are aware of several allergens or restrictions, a buffet may be a better catering choice. Some people consider buffets tacky, but they are becoming more and more popular—especially for more laid-back outdoor weddings and small church receptions. A buffet gives you the opportunity to provide suitable foods for all guests. Vegetarians can load up on side items while friends that are gluten free can skip the pasta dishes. If you do opt for a buffet, consider having the caterer label which items are free of major allergens, such as by labeling the peanut- or dairy-free dishes. It may also be helpful to include an ingredient list on the labels or signs that accompany each dish.

Tip #3: Avoid cross contamination

Choosing to cater to a food allergy or restriction will require some extra planning. Make sure the caterer is aware that there is an allergic guest and inform them which meal they will be ordering so that the caterer can prevent cross contamination in the kitchen. They even need to be aware of restrictions when planning a buffet, since they don't want to place the one peanut-free dish right next to a peanut-containing dish, where contamination is more likely to occur.

This is your special day, so although you want to be a good hostess, managing other people's allergies is not your direct responsibility. The above tips can still help if you want to try, though. Talk to a wedding caterer for more help.