How to Account for Guests with Special Dietary Needs

Be sensitive to your guests' dietary restrictions by providing menu options for everyone

By MiShaun Taylor

Wedding food buffet with fuit and vegetables
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With all the many things that a bride-to-be must think about when planning her wedding, it is easy to forget about a detail like the dietary restrictions of particular wedding guests. However, with thoughtfulness and proper planning, it is actually quite simple to work around the dietary needs of your wedding guests.

  • What You Need to Know
  • RSVP cards will provide crucial details about your guests' diets. They can provide guests with their dining options, such as beef, chicken or fish, and can alert the spouses-to-be about any dietary restrictions, including food allergies or meatless eaters.
  • Anticipate new or unreported dietary restrictions by ordering extras of each of your menu options.
Accommodating Special Diets

Step 1:

Before you can think about your guests' food preferences, decide what you and your fiance want for the food at your wedding. Start with whether you want to have a buffet or a sit-down dinner. Then decide what kind of food you want to serve. Think about how your food will fit into the theme of your wedding. For example, if you are having a beachside wedding, you may want fish. If you are having a sit-down dinner, you may want to offer two or three selections such as beef, chicken or pasta.

Step 2:

Solicit input on RSVP cards. Response cards are a way to find out what your guests may want at your wedding in terms of food. If you are offering a few entree choices, your caterer may need a head count. RSVP cards that offer the guest a choice between entrees will help your caterer to know what to prepare as well as give a guest a chance to opt for a vegetarian dish. Some response card wordings include a space for guests to write in any food restrictions, such as allergies, that need to be taken into account. Be sure to use the term "dietary restrictions" not "food preferences" so that you don't have the majority of your guests asking for different types of foods without a real need.

Step 3:

Do your homework so you know what a guest means when she says she needs a vegan meal or gluten-free food. There are many different types of dietary restrictions, so don't be afraid to ask follow-up questions to make sure you fully understand what your guests can and cannot eat.

Step 4:

Let your caterer know what your guests' restrictions are and work to find alternatives to meet your guests restrictions. Perhaps there is a way to make the same dish, but without a certain allergy-causing ingredient. Sometimes it's best to just make a different dish altogether for allergic guests.

Step 5:

If a guest has indicated a specific dietary need, let the person know what you and your caterer can do to accommodate that need. If you are unable to take care of the designated food restrictions, let him know so that he can plan ahead and eat beforehand. Regardless of what you are able to do for your guest, let him know that you are sincerely concerned about meeting the need and are truly grateful that he wants to celebrate your special day with you.

  • Tips & Warnings
  • If you know that many of your guests have dietary restrictions, be sure to make one of the main options a meal that adheres to these guidelines.
  • Although vegetarian plates can often be overlooked, alert your caterer's coordinator that you'd like to try this option as well to ensure that it meets with the same standards that meat entrees must.
  • If a serious allergy to a food such as peanuts exists among your guests, it may be a good idea to nix any dishes that contain this ingredient. This will ensure a healthy, drama-free experience for everyone.

About the Author

With more than 15 years of writing experience, MiShaun Taylor specializes in wedding-related articles.

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Planning Reminder:

set menu on table setting

Finalize menu

It's time to make a decision. Is it eggplant for everyone? Three courses or four? Or maybe you simply need to decide between broccoli rabe or asparagus for the buffet. Whatever the final details are, figure them out and finalize them. You'll get peace of mind -- and eventually, a delicious meal -- in return.

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Wedding Glossary


A large serving dish that sits over a low flame to keep its contents warm. Popular at buffets.

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