Gone are the days when wedding reception menus were limited to the one-size-fits-all offerings of meat, chicken or fish. Thanks to modern diets, couples hoping to accommodate guests may need to provide a wide array of food choices.
It is impossible to pinpoint an exact number, as there are no definitive surveys classifying all dietary preferences, but there are believed to be around 7.9 million people in the United States who follow a vegetarian-based diet. Of those people, around one million are strictly vegan, according to data in The Economist. In addition, NYU Langone Health says one-third of Americans are trying to avoid gluten. The Gluten Free Agency, which is a consulting group dedicated to helping advertisers, says some nine million people in Canada are going gluten-free now for medical or personal reasons. Toss in the scores of people with peanut or other allergies and even more caution is needed when designing wedding menus.
Savvy couples who have guests' health and comfort in mind recognize the importance of offering a varied meal plan for wedding-related parties and receptions. The following are some ideas to consider when planning wedding menus.
• Consider a buffet-style service. Although couples might like the tradition and flair that a seated/plated meal offers, it creates a much more limited selection of meal options. Buffet-style dinner service often provides couples with multiple choices, and it's much more likely they can come up with a combination that caters to any food allergies or dietary restrictions guests may have.
• Opt for food stations. In lieu of one long buffet table, a modern approach is to have staffed food stations. Foods as well as their ingredients can be clearly stated on food table placards so guests can make appropriate choices.
• Offer alternatives for dessert. Wedding cake can be a challenge to someone with a gluten sensitivity or an egg or a nut allergy. While not every guest indulges in dessert, make it a point to offer an alternative to cake. Perhaps a groom's cake can be revamped into gluten-free cookie bars or a nut-free trifle.
Couples who know in advance which types of dietary restrictions their guests have can work with caterers to devise a menu that suits everyone.