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Etiquette

Oh hellfire. Venue change = dinner change. Am I violating etiquette?

16maybeless16maybeless member
100 Comments 100 Love Its First Anniversary Name Dropper
edited February 2014 in Etiquette
You ladies are so very helpful, so I turn to you in my time of need.

We had originally planned to do food stations at our venue (a historical mansion-y summer home-y type thing) due to space concerns: We have 80-some guests, and the dining room generally accommodates 50. 

We were going to set up food stations in the dining room and then tables scattered throughout the dining room and the two adjoining covered porches that can be opened up to make one big indoor/outdoor space. We had originally wanted to do a seated, served dinner, but were told we couldn't do that for that number in any area other than the dining room (e.g., no seated, served dinner on the covered porches).

Well, I just got a call from the venue that plans have changed. They are undergoing renovations and have more or less "expanded" the dining room so that the living room next door can also be used as a dining room. There is a large French door that separates the dining and living rooms that can be opened, and tables can be arranged in both rooms that would accommodate a seated, served dinner for 80. Which I would love. Which our caterer said he can do. The living room is quite beautiful, with fireplaces, hardwood floors, and so forth, and in general, I prefer a served dinner (I think?)

The problem is that I've already had my invitations ordered. As we were planning in doing a buffet, I didn't include any option to select your meal on the RSVP card.

If we do a seated, served dinner after all, would it be a violation of etiquette to not ask guests to choose their meal? My thinking was that we could serve a dual entree, and there are vegetarian and vegan options for guests. The caterer said this would not be a problem and that he often does dual entrees, but ... is that true? Is that OK? Would you be pissed?

Here is the menu, which wouldn't change in the case of a seated dinner with waiters/waitresses:

5 passed apps (served on the lawn and in the gardens, or in the conservatory in the case of rain)

  • Salad (spring greens, frisee, endive, and spinach with sweet onions, purple and yellow teardrop tomatoes, blackberries, prosciutto, and Rappahannock apple cider vinaigrette, vegan w/o prosciutto)
  • Grilled Argentinean steak with chimichurri
  • Short smoked salmon with Dijon and apricot glaze and frizzled leeks (this and the steak would be the dual entree)
  • Basil gnocchi with sweet corn, crushed hazelnuts, and Parmesan shard (vegan w/o parm, OK for nut allergy w/o hazelnuts)
  • Rosemary roasted fingerling potatoes with sea salt (vegan)
  • Grilled asparagus with balsamic onions and shallot butter
  • French, rustic, seeded, whole-wheat, and braided rolls with sea salt butter
  • Miniature pies in multiple sizes and three flavors: Georgia peach, pecan, and chocolate silk
  • Red velvet vegan cupcakes

«1

Re: Oh hellfire. Venue change = dinner change. Am I violating etiquette?

  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Every time I have been to a wedding with a plated meal I was never given an option but rather just served a duet of steak and crabcake (or something of that nature).  It is not rude nor against etiquette to serve a dual entree and not ask your guests to choose a meal.

  • JCbride2015JCbride2015 Dirty Jerz member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    I think if you are serving a dual entree, there's no need to have guests order ahead of time.  As long as allergic/veggie/vegan people can choose something else tableside, I think this is fine.  Btw, your food sounds delicious!
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    "I'm not a rude bitch.  I'm ten rude bitches in a large coat."

    PrettyGirlLostdoeydoAmyzen83
  • Every seated-dinner wedding I've been to, I've never chosen my meal. It's always been a steak/chicken combo of some sort. I think you're okay.

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  • I think if you are serving a dual entree, there's no need to have guests order ahead of time.  As long as allergic/veggie/vegan people can choose something else tableside, I think this is fine.  Btw, your food sounds delicious!

    This. How will guests be able to order the vegetarian option? I'm not a vegetarian so I wouldn't normally pick a vegetarian meal. However, I don't eat seafood or steak, so I would be screwed with your entrees. I wouldn't know to ask for the veggie option if I didn't know what the main entree was.
    PrettyGirlLosts-aries8990firebabe6519jules3964
  • 16maybeless16maybeless member
    100 Comments 100 Love Its First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited February 2014
    nsweare said:
    I think if you are serving a dual entree, there's no need to have guests order ahead of time.  As long as allergic/veggie/vegan people can choose something else tableside, I think this is fine.  Btw, your food sounds delicious!
    This. How will guests be able to order the vegetarian option? I'm not a vegetarian so I wouldn't normally pick a vegetarian meal. However, I don't eat seafood or steak, so I would be screwed with your entrees. I wouldn't know to ask for the veggie option if I didn't know what the main entree was.

    I think if you are serving a dual entree, there's no need to have guests order ahead of time.  As long as allergic/veggie/vegan people can choose something else tableside, I think this is fine.  Btw, your food sounds delicious!
    Good points, thank you. I will ask the caterer, but I just asked the event coordinator and she said that the servers, when they come by to serve water and bread, can ask if there are any vegetarians, vegans, or allergies (I think I know all the veggies, as it's a small wedding). Would that be awkwardsocks?
    PrettyGirlLost
  • I've been to one wedding that served a dual entree. The RSVP cars asked for choice of chicken, fish or vegetarian. Both the chicken and fish were a duo with beef. Many people do not eat red meat and a large number of guests were horrified that their chicken/fish was sharing a plate and sauce with beef.
    CrazyCatLady3jules3964
  • RebeccaB88RebeccaB88 Figment of Your Imagination member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    But how will the caterer know how many vegetarian/vegan meals to prepare for?  And, if someone needs an accomodation with the salad - like vegetarian or no nuts, how will the caterer know before they make the salads?

    Plus, I wouldn't be able to eat my steak if it was on the same plate as the salmon, so they'd need to know that ahead of time, that they can't just take the salmon off. I'd need a whole new plate with new everything. I'd think some others would be like that too, maybe if they couldn't have red meat. Most people I know who don't eat red meat wouldn't eat anything on the plate if it had red meat on it. I personally can't stand duo plates for this reason.

    I might still go with the stations, just because it's already planned for and the hassle of changing everything now.
    HisGirlFriday13CrazyCatLady3melbelleup
  • Sugargirl1019Sugargirl1019 Deep in the Heart of Texas member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Second Anniversary First Answer
    I think a dual entree plate is fine - I would probably give the chef an estimated number for the veggie plates. Maybe your parents or family members know of people on your invite list who fit into that "dont eat red meat" category, and can help give you extra numbers for those.

    I am actually with a previous poster about the food stations - i LOVE food stations so much more than plated entrees (especially if theyre done so that you can pick and choose ingredients put in your meal, prepared by an attendant in front of you), so I would continue to stick with the stations. But if you really want the plated option, doing the dual is fine.

    image   image   image

  • Just a note about the sea salt butter and the sea salt on the potatoes.  My cousin is allergic to shellfish.  She is so sensitive that she cannot eat sea salt.  So make sure that it is somehow labeled or guests are informed about the sea salt.  
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  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    But how will the caterer know how many vegetarian/vegan meals to prepare for?  And, if someone needs an accomodation with the salad - like vegetarian or no nuts, how will the caterer know before they make the salads?

    Plus, I wouldn't be able to eat my steak if it was on the same plate as the salmon, so they'd need to know that ahead of time, that they can't just take the salmon off. I'd need a whole new plate with new everything. I'd think some others would be like that too, maybe if they couldn't have red meat. Most people I know who don't eat red meat wouldn't eat anything on the plate if it had red meat on it. I personally can't stand duo plates for this reason.

    I might still go with the stations, just because it's already planned for and the hassle of changing everything now.
    I think OP should list the new menu on her wedding website and include a line on her RSVP cards that asks for ppl to list if they have special dietary needs or food allergies.

    I'm sure the venue knows how to deal with dietary restrictions and food allergies, even when offering duo plates.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


    huskypuppy14melbelleup
  • I'm not opposed to dual plates, but it does cause issues for some people. If you are having both steak and salmon, as well as pasta, I would see if your caterer can accommodate tableside selections on the night of (most will if you're under a certain number of guests).

    If that can't be done, I would honestly stick with the food stations. People tend to really enjoy them, and they still get a selection of entrees to choose from. I would also be wary of seating in the second room because people might feel disconnected from the main room.


    image
    KittyKaty20
  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    If you go with the plated dinner with table-side ordering, the best way to handle is to get the word out to your guests anyway. Not with new invitations or anything, but calling people you know are vegetarians or have allergies, by updating your wedding website, by spreading the word, etc.
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  • Ditto PPs. My reception dinner will be seated and we aren't requesting choices ahead of time - they'll be ordering table side. So, no, I don't think this is a breach of etiquette on your part to not request in advance. I've been to plenty of weddings where I wasn't given a choice either and just served - most of them were this way, in fact.
  • We only have one served meal selection so we didn't put it on invites, but they are super flexible about dietary issues. The servers will ask about vegetarian/vegan when they bring out salad. We also posted the menu on the website with a note to let us know of any extra special issues ahead of time.
  • kgd7357 said:
    We only have one served meal selection so we didn't put it on invites, but they are super flexible about dietary issues. The servers will ask about vegetarian/vegan when they bring out salad. We also posted the menu on the website with a note to let us know of any extra special issues ahead of time.
    This assumes people will go to your website. Not everyone will. Will the servers tell them what the entree is, or just ask if they are veggie?  You may have people who would the vegetarian option not because they are vegetarian but because they don't like what is being served.  
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  • princessleia22princessleia22 Oceanfront Property in Arizona member
    Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Answer

    I don't think there is any problem doing a duo, but you need to somehow let guests know what to expect and be able to inform you of additional dietary needs.  Honestly, I love steak, but I get physically sick from any type of seafood. I don't know if I'm allergic or what, but it doesn't matter if it's fish, shrimp or whatever... any type of seafood I've tried has same reaction.  So, I personally would be pretty turned off to find salmon on my plate. 

    It sounds like you have printed, but not sent out the invitations yet.  So, another option may be to print up a separate note to include in the invite stating that the dinner will include a duo or steak and salmon, or even include the whole menu, and ask that people write any special concerns or dietary requirements on the back of the RSVP. I wouldn't question a separate menu page in the invitation or even consider that it may have been added afterward. You could do this yourself quickly and cheaply. Buy some nice cardstock to match your invites and print them yourself (or at local print shop... laser printer is much better quality than inkjet).  Or order it as a separate sheet from wherever you ordered your invites from (but that may depend on their print time).

    image 

  • I'm baffled by advice that you need to consider what your guests like to eat. You are a grown up. If you are served steak and salmon, and you do not like steak or salmon, you deal with it! If you are a vegetarian, you ask the waiter if there is a vegetarian option, and if you have special dietary requirements or allergies, you call ahead.

    But the risk that some portion of your guests will simply not like their typically consumed food options is not something etiquette requires you to consider.
  • We are doing a duo as well with chicken and beef. On our invites instead of adding a spot for choice of entree we simply left a space for any "dietary restrictions/preferences". That way if there are any vegan/vegetarian/dairy-free/gluten-free diners we will know and the venue/caterer will know which table these people will be sitting at. The server then will just have to determine which person at the table is "John Smith with a seafood allergy" for example, and ensure that his courses meet his dietary requirements. It is possible to do this tableside as well, provided the caterer is prepared with alternatives that can be plated during service.

    OP, if you are really worried about ironing this out ahead of time, you could simply call your guests as you receive their replies letting them know you are looking forward to celebrating with them, then casually take the opportunity to address any potential dietary concerns.
  • mysticl said:

    Just a note about the sea salt butter and the sea salt on the potatoes.  My cousin is allergic to shellfish.  She is so sensitive that she cannot eat sea salt.  So make sure that it is somehow labeled or guests are informed about the sea salt.  

    Then she needs to inform the server when she sits down and ask! A menu does not need to fully identify every ingredient.
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    But how will the caterer know how many vegetarian/vegan meals to prepare for?  And, if someone needs an accomodation with the salad - like vegetarian or no nuts, how will the caterer know before they make the salads?

    Plus, I wouldn't be able to eat my steak if it was on the same plate as the salmon, so they'd need to know that ahead of time, that they can't just take the salmon off. I'd need a whole new plate with new everything. I'd think some others would be like that too, maybe if they couldn't have red meat. Most people I know who don't eat red meat wouldn't eat anything on the plate if it had red meat on it. I personally can't stand duo plates for this reason.

    I might still go with the stations, just because it's already planned for and the hassle of changing everything now.
    May I ask why?  Is this a health issue or a food prep rule, like Kosher or Halal?  Just curious.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    @PrettyGirlLost Might also be OCD.
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  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer

    phira said:
    @PrettyGirlLost Might also be OCD.
    Oh, I never thought of that.


    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • mysticl said:
    kgd7357 said:
    We only have one served meal selection so we didn't put it on invites, but they are super flexible about dietary issues. The servers will ask about vegetarian/vegan when they bring out salad. We also posted the menu on the website with a note to let us know of any extra special issues ahead of time.
    This assumes people will go to your website. Not everyone will. Will the servers tell them what the entree is, or just ask if they are veggie?  You may have people who would the vegetarian option not because they are vegetarian but because they don't like what is being served.  
    Yep. The server will ask, steak or veggie? The only they can't do is change out elements of the main dish unless they know ahead of time. Like someone could email ahead saying they are allergic to garlic, and they'll make a batch of potatoes with the garlic held, but they can't do that night of. 
  • If you have time, you could always re-order the RSVP cards?  It depends on if you think there will be a lot of people unable to eat the steak/salmon meal then it may be worth it.
  • Just a note about the sea salt butter and the sea salt on the potatoes.  My cousin is allergic to shellfish.  She is so sensitive that she cannot eat sea salt.  So make sure that it is somehow labeled or guests are informed about the sea salt.  
    Then she needs to inform the server when she sits down and ask! A menu does not need to fully identify every ingredient.
    And I'm sure she would since she doesn't want to die.  However, on the flip side I would never in a million years think there would be sea salt in the butter that goes with the bread basket.  Maybe she has run into this and would ask but I don't know.  Since the OP made a point of mentioning the sea salt here I think it would be easy enough to include in the food descriptions.  
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  • RebeccaB88RebeccaB88 Figment of Your Imagination member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Plus, I wouldn't be able to eat my steak if it was on the same plate as the salmon, so they'd need to know that ahead of time, that they can't just take the salmon off. I'd need a whole new plate with new everything. I'd think some others would be like that too, maybe if they couldn't have red meat. Most people I know who don't eat red meat wouldn't eat anything on the plate if it had red meat on it. I personally can't stand duo plates for this reason.

    May I ask why?  Is this a health issue or a food prep rule, like Kosher or Halal?  Just curious.
    It's for medical reasons.
  • You could also, although this would be more time-consuming, CALL each guest as the RSVPs come in and ask what their meal preference is and if they have any dietary restrictions, but for 80-some guests that would be a PITA.

    I ditto the PP who suggested, if you haven't actually MAILED the invites yet, just print up a special, separate menu (you can do it on perforated card stock you buy at Michaels or ACMoore or wherever) and insert that, with a note to tell people to list dietary restrictions, including allergies.
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  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Plus, I wouldn't be able to eat my steak if it was on the same plate as the salmon, so they'd need to know that ahead of time, that they can't just take the salmon off. I'd need a whole new plate with new everything. I'd think some others would be like that too, maybe if they couldn't have red meat. Most people I know who don't eat red meat wouldn't eat anything on the plate if it had red meat on it. I personally can't stand duo plates for this reason.

    May I ask why?  Is this a health issue or a food prep rule, like Kosher or Halal?  Just curious.
    It's for medical reasons.
    Thanks, sorry for asking!  I'm sorry.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • The only issue with printing a new RSVP card is that our invites are letterpressed. But I can perhaps type up a line at the bottom of the existing RSVP cards on my typewriter (so it matches the typeface used elsewhere on the invite suite), asking guests to write in dietary restrictions or allergies? Do you think that's too weird or not enough? 

    The caterer said they will have more than enough gnocchi, especially if we can give them an estimate based on what we find out on the RSVP cards. The servers will not preset the salads and will wait until they offer water to verb each table and ask if there are any veggies/dietary restrictions. If so, veggies will get the salad w/o prosciutto and the gnocchi; fish- and steak-haters can be accommodated too with either gnocchi or extra portions of the protein they prefer. I'm really not sure what to do if we have any garlic or salt allergies; I think we would have to improvise, but I don't know that we have anything like that.

    Does this sound weird? I have been to mostly weddings with a duo of entrees, but I think it's nice to ask guests for their input beforehand, as a matter of good hosting. 

    As for the space, the French doors b/w the living and dining rooms are very large, and when open, it feels more like one room with only a fireplace really separating the spaces. I think that will be fine, and no one will feel left out! 
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