Wedding Etiquette Forum

Since Food is a Popular Topic...

I have a question about what kind of due diligence I am expected to carry out about the food preferences/diets of my guests. As in, how much am I supposed to know/ask?

I don't know of any people with intense food allergies or specific diets coming to my wedding. Since we are doing the food ourselves, I know that I cannot guarantee that it will not be prepared in a kitchen that is free of nuts/soy/gluten/eggs or be prepared in specific pots, unless I am very clear with my people about it. 

We're inviting around 250 people. I'm realizing, after reading a few food threads, that many people say to someone's proposed menu, "I wouldn't be able to eat/can't eat that because X" or "you need to have something for people who have X or don't eat Y." So, I'm wondering what the odds are that someone on my guest list may have a dietary issue that I just don't know about. Especially with the growing popularity of things like paleo or gluten-free eating (not talking about people who can't digest gluten for whom this is a lifestyle, not a diet), people could have restrictions (medically or self imposed) that I don't know about. 

We are having some vegetarian options (it's a cocktail style buffet reception that starts at 3 in the afternoon and goes til 7), but, as people kept coming out of the woodwork on other threads, I realized we have pretty much nothing vegan. And I can't promise that the knife used to cut the veggies has never been used to cut meat (obviously not at the same time, but that knife has probably been used on an animal product at some point, and then cleaned). Of course, this didn't seem like an issue, because, as far as I know, we have no vegans, but now I'm worried.

So, am I supposed to call all of my guests to find our preferences or allergies or restrictions? Or, do I wait for them to come to me. Since there's no meal choice on the RSVP, they would have to tell me specifically so that I would know to have something there. How far does this go? Do I only need to honor eating styles that stem from medical necessity or deeply held personal convictions, or should I also be catering to simple preference?
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Re: Since Food is a Popular Topic...

  • edited September 2012
    I think if you have a variety options to cover the most common dietary needs, like vegetarian, kosher, doesn't eat fish, gluten free, you are probably fine. Beyond that, I think it's the responsibility of the guest with, say, a violent pea allergy to either decide to inform the host or to make do with what is offered. You shouldn't need to do an "allergies and preferences" poll on all of your guests. ETA: The "I can't eat X because Y" posts generally come up in the context of threads where OP is trying to get away with offering an extremely limited menu. As long as you have a variety of foods, you are most likely okay.
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  • You know, the best you can do is the best you can do.  You go with you know about.  If you know you have vegetarians you provide for them.  If you know you have people who have to eat gluten free for medical reasons you provide for them.

    There is no way to cover each and every base so you do your best with your best intentions, host your guests well and things should work out.

    I have one DD who is unmarried.  (Dating a wonderful guy she actually graduated HS with, and yes, this mom has a silent SQUEE waiting to come out if they decide "they are for life")  If I get to go into wedding planning mode again, we will accomodate everything we are aware of.  That is the best we can do.

    I had a former sis-in-law who was a vegetarian.  She was thrilled when she attended a function that had veg meals, but also didn't expect the world to cater to her decision.  She made due.

    If we are aware of any guests dietary issues we will host them well.  If we arent' aware and no one tells us, we did everything we could.  The same is true for you.  I'm sure you will host your guests well based on the knowledge you have.
  • peekaboo2011peekaboo2011 Washington, DC member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 250 Love Its Name Dropper
    Being celiac, and quiet about it usually, I'd just put a spot on RSVP cards for "Food allergies? _________"  That way you do know and no one makes a big fuss about it.

    I once attended a wedding where I was close to the bride and groom, and was only able to eat carrot sticks, plain, because of the way they had done the food.  It was really disappointing to me.

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  • Vegans are aware that your utensils probably touched meat at some point. As long as it's clean, that's fine. For kosher meals, that would be an issue.

    I would try to have a few vegan things just because I also know a lot of people who avoid dairy and/or eggs, and vegan dishes would be all-encompassing.

    If anyone responds to your RSVP or contacts you about things like a seafood allergy or celiac, I would definitely try to accomodate that, even if it means ordering something from a restaurant that is guaranteed to be gluten-free.

    Vegan and vegetarian diets should be taken care of, as long as celiac, lactose-intolerance and any deadly allergies, IMO.
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  • edited September 2012

    If you do the best you can covering the general areas that you know (vegetarian, celiac, etc), I feel it is also on the person with the allergy/issue to let you know.  A simple phone call or email with "Hey you, I don't know if you know this but I'm allergic to x (or I have x/can't do x)....can you advise if this is going to be around?" shouldn't be an issue.

    If you have no clue that someone is allergic/has issues with something...even with a small amount...you don't know to warn them about it.  Or to check to see if something was cross-contaminated.  Or to check to see if you can change something ahead of time. 

    You do the best you can.
  • I know that my FMIL has a horrid tree nut allergy and have decided that nothing with treenuts will be at our wedding. One of my best friends is vegetarian and I will accommadate her as the gluten free people I know will be invited. I know my BIL has lots of food allergies(not sure what he is all allergic to because he eats a variety of foods) but he and my sister carry epipens on them at all times as does my FMIL.

    You do what you can with what you know but if cousin Suzy comes doesn't tell you that she has a food allergy, that is on her for not letting you know. I like the idea a PP said about maybe putting a line on the RSVP about food allergies/dietry needs. I was actually thinking of putting a line that said something to the effect, "Vegetarian________", "Meat________" and "Special Diet Needs/Food Allergies_________" so that way they know we are trying to be accommadating to them. I think just worrying about it now shows how much you do care about being a great host to your guests Smile
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  • Where I work we have a lot of formal and semi-formal dinners (probably 4-5 a year), and the sign up sheets have a spot for "Dietary Restrictions" and people can fill in the blank.   You could either put a spot for this under your meal preferences, or just put a note on your reception card (or website) that says something like "Please feel free to contact us about any dietary restrictions you may have."  
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  • Everyone who has major food issues will politely contact you to inquire. I just offered a big variety of dishes, and worked with my caterer as guests notified me of their needs. With such a broad spectrum of dietary needs out there, these days its nect to impossible for hosts to know ALL their guests' needs ahead of time.
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  • In Response to Re:Since Food is a Popular Topic...:[QUOTE]Being celiac, and quiet about it usually, I'd just put a spot on RSVP cards for "Food allergies? _________" nbsp;That way you do know and no one makes a big fuss about it.I once attended a wedding where I was close to the bride and groom, and was only able to eat carrot sticks, plain, because of the way they had done the food. nbsp;It was really disappointing to me. Posted by peekaboo2011[/QUOTE]

    Maybe this makes me an asshole, but I don't understand why you wouldn't be comfortable advising a close friend of a necessary dietary restriction unless someone gave you the explicit option to do so via RSVP card. I don't think adults should need prompting on this topic. FFS. You're disclosing a food intolerance, not genital herpes.
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  • peekaboo2011peekaboo2011 Washington, DC member
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_since-food-is-a-popular-topic?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:0c83718f-ae67-40ba-b766-2e2b398bdc9aPost:bdeb47c4-cd9f-4cf1-9605-f9d8b880d60f">Re:Since Food is a Popular Topic...</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re:Since Food is a Popular Topic...: Maybe this makes me an asshole, but I don't understand why you wouldn't be comfortable advising a close friend of a necessary dietary restriction unless someone gave you the explicit option to do so via RSVP card. I don't think adults should need prompting on this topic. FFS. You're disclosing a food intolerance, not genital herpes.
    Posted by StephBeanWed61502[/QUOTE]

    <div>It comes from having assholes masquerade as friends.  I'm still very self-conscious about it, and I feel like it puts people through a lot of work to make sure I can eat.  It's my own issue, and I'll own that.  But, I know some people feel the same way.  Sometimes it's really hard to be the only one in a group that needs a special meal, and when it has to be perfect or you'll end up sick and on the toilet for three days, it's a lot of pressure to put on someone.</div>
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  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_since-food-is-a-popular-topic?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:0c83718f-ae67-40ba-b766-2e2b398bdc9aPost:bdeb47c4-cd9f-4cf1-9605-f9d8b880d60f">Re:Since Food is a Popular Topic...</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re:Since Food is a Popular Topic...: Maybe this makes me an asshole, but I don't understand why you wouldn't be comfortable advising a close friend of a necessary dietary restriction unless someone gave you the explicit option to do so via RSVP card. I don't think adults should need prompting on this topic. FFS. You're disclosing a food intolerance, not genital herpes.
    Posted by StephBeanWed61502[/QUOTE]

    <div>add me to the list.</div><div>
    </div><div>
    </div><div>OP - just do the best you can.  Unless they are kosher, most vegetarian will not mind the you used the same knife for both meat and veggies.   Assuming it's clean, and you should clean before using it again anyway.  Even someone who keeps Kosher can use the same knife for meat and veggies.  They just can't use the same knife for meat and dairy.</div><div>
    </div><div>We didn't have any vegans, so we didn't have a vegan meal.  We had a vegetarian meal, which doubled as the Kosher meal.  We had some shellfish allergies, so they didn't get the shrimp part of the entree.  We had a couple of peshatarians so they didn't get the meat. We didn't have any gluten-free either.</div><div>
    </div><div>
    </div><div>At least in my experience most couples and/or parents are aware of  severe allergies or dietary restrictions  of their guest list  ahead of time.  If they are a friend/family more than likely your or your family has had a meal with them at some point.   Sure they might be a few randoms, but if you plan a balanced meal you should be able to hand anything that comes up.</div>






    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. 
  • My DH has a list of allergies that he doesn't always speak up about, because its easier to eat at home / bring a snack than have the host make food for him (that often makes him sick anyway). 

    We put "Allergies / Dietary Restrictions: ___________" on our RSVP cards. That way, anyone who had an allergy could let us know. 
  • Putting that on response cards is an awesome idea! You ladies are always so clever!
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Ninth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Well, coming from a family/crowd with glatt kosher, diabetic, and various allergies as restrictions, I think probably the safest thing to do is to offer a vegan option, at least one sugar-free option, and a gluten-free option and avoid tree nuts altogether (too bad-I love tree nuts).

    As for kosher, the most strictly Orthodox Jews won't consider anything "kosher" if it is served at the same sitting with non-kosher food, even if they're not on the same plates or served with the same utensils.  If they eat at all, they will probably eat a vegan option.
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