Food and Cakes

Dietary restrictions for reception food

I will be getting married in April and recently sent out invitations. The rsvp's are starting to arrive. On one rsvp, someone wrote that they need gluten free food and wanted to know their options. I'm at a loss. We have already paid the caterer and settled on basicaly food we thought everyone would enjoy. We are already spending a several thousands of dollars on the food and can't really afford to provide 250+ people with options. I read on an etiquette site that it's not our responsibility to do so. I do sympathize with their needs but I can't afford it. Not sure what to do or how to approach it. Any ideas or suggestions?

Re: Dietary restrictions for reception food

  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado
    Moderator Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
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    call your caterer.  It's not unusual these days to have this type of issue.  Most will provide an option for the guest.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • Even if your menu is set, your caterer may be able to tell you which foods are gluten free,or provide gluten free options for some foods.  The biggest dietary issue I am having with my wedding is I am inviting approximately 12 vegetarians, some of which are vegans.  My caterer said accomodating them shouldn't be a problem, and even asked if I needed a Kosher plate for my Jewish guests.
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  • GF shouldn't be an issue with the caterer. Receptions I've gone to have always been able to do GF for me. or at least tell me if there's anything not gf.
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  • A lot of people have gluten allergies; most caterers will have dealt with this before.  Having an entire menu be gluten-free can be expensive, but having one single person's meal made without gluten shouldn't cost you any more.
    If your caterer does make a gluten-free meal for your guest, make sure they know what they are doing; even cross contamination from utensils used with gluten can be enough to make your guest sick.  To a person with celiac disease, getting glutened has a similar effect to food poisoning.  (I have a family full of people with this disease, so I'm having a mainly gluten-free wedding.)
  • Ditto PPs. First, call your caterer and ask what accomodations can be made for this guest. Then relay that information to this guest.

    My family has a whole bunch of allergies. Sometimes there's nothing served someone can eat, or the danger of cross-contamination is too high. [We don't trouble hosts by telling them about our allergies, unless it's a party in someone's home.] We eat ahead of time and/or leave early because we can't eat at the party. Sometimes it's possible to step out for half an hour to get something. We don't think less of our hosts because they serve good food that we still can't eat.
  • I have many allergies.  I've never told a host about it as I don't like to trouble them.  I can normally piece together a meal, and I'm also used to eating before I come.  I'm sure the caterer can help you- most likely something you are serving is already gluten free.

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  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado
    Moderator Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
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    I don't get not telling host about allergies.   I get you don't want to be a pain, but as a host I would
     
    - upset not to know that something I served could harm you.

     - upset you couldn't eat when I could have done something 

     -  I had to pay $100 for a plate of food that will get thrown out

    I'm sure allergies can get out of hand, but as a host I want to know and do what I can to accommodate them.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • Agree with PPs.  Talk to your caterer now to see what can be done to accomodate your gluten free guest.  We had two GF requests for our wedding and our venue was able to tell us what we could recommend for them and what they should avoid.  There should be no or minimal extra cost to you.
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  • In Response to Re: Dietary restrictions for reception food:
    I don't get not telling host about allergies.   I get you don't want to be a pain, but as a host I would   - upset not to know that something I served could harm you.  - upset you couldn't eat when I could have done something   -  I had to pay $100 for a plate of food that will get thrown out I'm sure allergies can get out of hand, but as a host I want to know and do what I can to accommodate them.
    Posted by lyndausvi
    THIS.   OP, any reputable caterer should be able tweak your menu for the gluten free guest. Just ask. It's literally no big deal. 
  • A catererer should not charge you more money for special dietary requirements -- call them and let them know about the issue and I am sure they can make up a special gluten free meal for your guest.

    Also, please remember that a gluten allergy is not a dietary preference, it is a dietary requirement.   I believe that etiquette boards saying to not take guest allergies into consideration is ludicrous... are you sure that they didn't mean preferences? (i.e. Aunt Martha REALLY hates onions, and requests an onion-less meal,  THOSE you do not have to consider).   However, allergies are very different.  Eating anything will gluten will make your guest severely ill, so please take it seriously.

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  • lyn, with my family, it's just that there's so much information, we don't trust it can be conveyed from us to the host to the caterer to the host back to us properly. It started 20 years ago, when food allergies weren't as well known and we couldn't trust caterers to take proper precautions. We'd have to explain that "no peanuts" didn't just mean "no peanuts," it likely meant no chocolate too because most chocolate products have peanut oil and/or are "manufactured on equipment that also processes peanuts." But, as guests, we're explaining that to hosts, who have to explain it to caterers. With deadly allergies, that's quite the important game of telephone.

    And, yes, it's personalities. It's easier to tell others at our table, "Eh, I'm just not hungry this evening" than to endure the extra attention as the waitstaff brings out a special plate. That's another thing for hosts to think about: How will they make sure a guest with food insensitivities doesn't have to explain about it to other guests, who might be strangers to the sensitive guest? Especially for something like gluten, where it may be a matter of not having a sauce or the bread - something that might be an oversight to someone who didn't know the circumstances.
  • In Response to Re: Dietary restrictions for reception food:
    I don't get not telling host about allergies.   I get you don't want to be a pain, but as a host I would   - upset not to know that something I served could harm you.  - upset you couldn't eat when I could have done something   -  I had to pay $100 for a plate of food that will get thrown out I'm sure allergies can get out of hand, but as a host I want to know and do what I can to accommodate them.
    Posted by lyndausvi
    Totally on board with this.  We had a buffet that could accomodate vegans and GF.  I have a friend that is GF and has several other severe, life-threatening allergies.  I know about her allergies because we often eat together.  I asked my venue how they wanted to proceed, and I ended up forwarding the venue coordinator an email from my friend about her allergies.  The chef prepared a plate for my friend of things that we had on the buffet in a safe preparation without any contamination, and that's what my friend ate.  

  • vexievexie
    100 Comments
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    Definitely speak with your caterer!  Gluten-free diets are very common these days so I'm pretty sure this won't be their first request :)   You might even be surprised like we were.  I had one guest request gluten-free and when I spoke with our venue (a fine dining restaurant) I was told that the salad, soup, all four entree options including the four different sides to go with each were all gluten-free.  The only thing they had to make separate was the dessert.... so problem solved!

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  • Yeah, at my tasting I spoke directly to the chef and he said they can accomodate basically any type of dietary restriction: gluten free, nut free, kosher, vegetarian, vegan, shellfish free, etc. Our of a 100 people, I have at least one with each of these restrictions. 
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