Catering for Food Allergies: A wedding story

You've started thinking about the food you’ll be serving, it’s going to be delicious, beautifully presented, and oh so freakin' spectacularly divine.

And then you remember that your friend who’s def going to be on the invite list has food allergies.

<sigh>

If you’re catering for 100 people, you can guarantee you’ll have at least three people who have food allergies.

It’s just statistics unfortunately – approximately 3% of people will have some kind of food allergy, and sometimes your stats will be skewed if you’re inviting a family with food allergies. At my own wedding lunch, where there were only 25 people (mostly all family), there were five of us with food allergies (darn those genetics!)

As someone with food allergies, I can tell you that attending catered functions is scary. We’re always a little worried that we’ll be inadvertently poisoned, through no fault of the bride and groom.

So what can you do to keep your allergy-affected buddies safe from harm? Here’s a few pointers for every bride-to-be:

  • On your invitations, ask attendees to list any special food requirements when they RSVP.
  • Talk to your caterers and check that they can provide for special diets e.g. gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan …
  • If your caterers can’t cater for special diets, make sure you let your allergy-affected guests know in advance so they can bring their own food. Also, let your caterer know that they will be bringing their own food.
  • Communicate clearly with your caterer on the day to ensure all your ‘special diet’ guests receive the correct meal.
  • If the meal is a buffet, ensure that caterers use clear food labelling so guests can identify what food is safe for them.
  • Prepare for the possibility that allergy-free food may cost a bit more. Annoyingly, allergy-free food is more expensive, because the ingredients are more expensive.
  • Some allergy-affected people will want to bring their own food regardless of the catering. Don’t be offended, it’s not personal honestly! Some people’s food allergies are so severe that even a small amount of contamination e.g. crumbs from another food source could make them violently ill.

And finally, know that you will be immensely appreciated by your allergy-affected guests, because you've shown you care – thank you for keeping us safe!