How Do You Plan An Allergy-Safe Wedding Menu?

FOOD_ALLERGIES_ANNAIllustrated by Anna Sudit.
How do I handle people's various dietary restrictions or allergies at my upcoming wedding without directly impacting the menu and driving the kitchen insane?
—Dining Dilemma
Dear Dining Dilemma,
First off, snaps to you for thinking of the hardworking kitchen staff! Thankfully, most catering companies have ways to prepare for an array of different dietary issues. That said, there is a lot that you can do ahead of time to avoid being in a bind on the big day.
While we aren’t big fans of having your guests check off their meal of choice with their reply card, we do like the idea of leaving a blank that allows people to fill you in on any special needs/allergens, etc., that they may want you to know about. If your wedding is small enough, look through the RSVP’s with your partner and cross reference any allergies or dietary restrictions that might immediately come to mind.
There are a few items that you should always avoid. The top offender on our list: peanuts. People with peanut allergies tend to react very severely. It is simply not worth the risk. When it comes to dairy, choose dishes that use milk products as an “accent,” meaning that the dairy element can be easily removed upon request. While we personally love truffles, they don’t strike everyone’s fancy, and have quite a smell that follows them. Consider avoiding dishes that use truffles or truffle oil. Lastly, it may be best to pass on the cilantro. For some, cilantro has a “soapy” taste to it and immediately ruins any dish that it is used in. Skip the drama and go for basil instead.
If you think that your wedding may have a strong percentage of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or kosher attendees, consider using a symbol for those specifications on either your menu or buffet cards — and always be sure to offer a vegetarian entrée. With lots of cocktails being passed around, it is important to make sure everyone has had a substantial enough meal in their bellies.
The most important thing when planning a meal for a wedding or an event is to consider the majority. Gluten free may be a hot dietary trend at the moment, but more likely than not, only a small portion of your guests are observing it. So long as there is something that they can eat, there is no need to change the entirety of your menu. Bon appétit!
Yours Always,
Ali & Maya
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