Planning for Food Allergies or Dietary Restrictions (Guest Post)

Hello! Today Lindsay Winn is popping in to share some of the things she's learned about catering while working in the food industry.Thank you so much for sharing with us, Lindsay! xoxo, Stacia

Planning for Food Allergies or Dietary Restrictions - Paper Swallow Events

There are many aspects of planning that go into making the event successful. One of those many things is food and catering. Food is an integral part of any event, from a simple bridal shower brunch, to rehearsal dinner, to hors d’oeuvres at a cocktail party – food is involved in just about any event we plan.

The best suggestion I can give from my personal experience is to sit down with your caterer and go over expectations. If you want things to go a certain way, or look a certain way, talk about these things. The more information you give your caterer prior to your wedding, the smoother things tend to go. Also, ASK QUESTIONS! You may feel like you don’t want to ask TOO many questions, but making sure everyone is on the same page with expectations is important. If you know what to expect, and your caterer knows your vision, then things should flow smoothly.

Planning for Food Allergies or Dietary Restrictions - Paper Swallow Events

One thing that complicates the planning a bit is dietary restrictions or allergies. I recommend placing an insert or special note on the invitation. Ask guests to let you know if they have allergies or diet restrictions. The worst thing is a guest showing up and not being able to eat, or worse – having an allergic reaction to something on the menu. Trust me, you don’t want that! Typically people with severe allergies or restrictions tell the host when they RSVP, but a reminder in the invite doesn’t hurt. When meeting with the caterer, ask them how they handle special diets – do they have a vegetarian option available upon request or can they accommodate a special request the day of? Caterers all have different ways of handling these situations, so being aware of their protocol helps alleviate day-of stress. 

Planning for Food Allergies or Dietary Restrictions - Paper Swallow Events

Also, when choosing the menu, keep in mind your guests. Yes, your wedding day is about you, but everyone else will be eating as well. Steak can be difficult because no two people like their meat cooked the same – well, medium, rare. Seafood can also be difficult because of shellfish allergies. Menu items with nuts in them are delicious – I personally love candied walnuts on a salad, but they can complicate things if you have a guest with a severe nut allergy. Gluten Free diets and allergies are gaining momentum, so it wouldn’t hurt to at least know what items on your menu are gluten free. 

Another thought to consider is children – and calm down I’m not pressuring you about what you think I am, I’m talking about kids meals. If you plan to have children at your wedding, should you have a special menu or option for them? It all depends on what is on the menu. If it is kid friendly, then don’t worry, but if it’s questionable, ask your caterer what options they can give you for children and talk with the parents of the children ahead of time about the options.

Planning for Food Allergies or Dietary Restrictions - Paper Swallow Events

Lastly, the details on the day of the wedding are just as important. You have done all this planning to make sure there are no hiccups with food options, so make sure the right people get the right meal. If it’s a buffet and someone is getting a special meal, let the guest know to ask a staff member, or the point person on the day of the wedding. You don’t want them bugging you on your big day about where their food is, or what to do. If you are having a plated served meal, you can indicate on the guest’s name card if they should receive a specialty meal. You can use a colored dot, picture, or a symbol, whatever you would like – have fun with it. Make sure to let your caterer know ahead of time what symbols they should tell their staff to look for.

Hopefully planning ahead and talking about expectations will lower your stress levels and reduce the chance of a problem on the day of your wedding. Good luck!

Planning for Food Allergies or Dietary Restrictions - Paper Swallow Events

My name is Lindsay Winn and I have worked in catering for over 10 years. I received a degree in Foods and Nutrition, but later discovered my passion was catering. I enjoy all of the steps of planning that goes into an event - from linen colors, napkin folds, designing menus, table set up and food presentation. My favorite part of catering is being able to work with a client to give them exactly what they envisioned, a successful event. I love food whether it be cooking, trying new restaurants, or learning about it so I started a blog to talk about it, so come check me out: Hungry for Tidbits