Food allergy labels for your wedding catering: a free wedding printable in TWO styles

July 30 | bijouxandbits  
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Wedding buffet dietary card printable from @offbeatbride
Photo and printable design by the author

Chances are if you're offering food at your wedding, you're already thinking about potential allergy and dietary issues. We all either have our own dietary needs and/or know someone who eats vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, or otherwise. Often these guests have a backup plan where they know they'll just have to eat beforehand or pack a snack.

How much of a load off would it be for your special diet guests to see these helpful, free, printable food allergy labels on the table? No need to guess at what's in the recipe or eat that protein bar in their bag instead. We've crafted up these DIY labels that can be easily used with Avery 5302 tent cards.

We have two styles to choose from — a rustic wood background and a colorful watercolor background:

Wedding buffet dietary card printable from @offbeatbride

Wedding buffet dietary card printable from @offbeatbride

You can download the templates here:

 

Check out our full archive of menu ideas for loads more menu ideas. And if you're feeling extra crafty, check out our archive of free wedding printables.

 

Are you having special catering done for guests with special diets? Leave your tips in the comments!

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  1. We are doing an Indian served buffet for ours, so far I am only aware of a couple of veggies and a nut allergy, do you think it is worth doing these? I was just going to tell the nut allergy person what they can have (I'm contacting them to see if this is ok) and hope the veggies get that the veggie curry and all the sides are suitable for them. Would people with intolerances tell us, or just keep schtum and smuggle in a snack? There will be staff from the restaurant serving so they can ask…

    • You could rely on that idea that people with dietary requirements would tell you because it makes sense for them to do so, but people, (all people – no disrespect meant to anyone with dietary requirements) are capable of being weird…. I used to work as a chef and it never failed to amaze me how many people would turn up at an event not having given their dietary requirement info up front and then get annoyed when they weren't catered for. Therefore I prefer to always ask, for any event, it saves a world of trouble and no one ever minds, it a nice thing to do! If you haven't done your invites yet ask on there, the last couple of wedding invites I received asked for this info with the RSVP.

      I like to label too (another reason I love a buffet) because if you rely on just telling people in advance what dishes they can have a) they tend to forget, loose the list you gave them etc etc and b) they can’t always work out what the dish is they are supposed to have just by looking at it, especially with cuisines they have not tried before. I had to do this in two languages for my wedding (we had meat eaters who wouldn’t cope without there being meat, vegetarian, vegan, wheat free, dairy free and diabetic suitable requirements, from both countries!) and a lot of work it was too but come the day not one person came and asked me anything about food and everyone was happy with full plates. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that no one is allowed to ask me about food but I’m just trying to say be wary of setting up situations in which only you know the answer or that rely on you telling someone something, this should be a day that can run entirely without input from you!

      Finally, I don't want to stress you but definitely check with your nut allergy person exactly what they need, some people would need the entire kitchen to but nut free, not just a nut free option to be safe (ie not just their option prepared and guaranteed free of contamination of actual nuts used in other dishes but also other ingredients containing nut derivatives, ie cooking oils). In my experience people with this level of need usually prefer to eat before coming or bring their own food for understandable reasons, but of course your guest will be able to advise you best on their particular situation. It’s better to be completely clear up front if you can’t accommodate someone’s level of need at your chosen venue, it doesn’t make you a bad person it makes you a responsible one.

      2 agree
      • Yes, I am already slightly concerned about killing my cousins Fiance mere weeks before their wedding :S. I have however been to social occasions at both restaurants and family homes where I am 99% sure I have seen him eat. I am going to send my cousin a message about the severity of it. The restaurant has already told me he won't be able to have the mild curry but the other things are fine and I checked that they use vegetable oil.

        I intend to make a "wedding bible" for those in the loop, DOC, BMs, Bar Staff, Photographer, Restaurant staff, parents etc, and I think I will put possible allergens in there as well as timings, contact numbers etc. Rather than labels I might do a big chalk board

        • Sounds like you are really on top of things! Don't freak too much about the nut thing, hope my comment didn't add to that, the person it affects will be totally used to handling this and it's ultimately their responsibility. Just get a clear picture of what's needed and be super clear about wether or not that can be achieved so the person can make an informed choice. Have a wonderful wedding!

  2. What about asking guests on a save the date /rsvp card about any allergies? I have food allergies, as does my favorite uncle, so I'm always super cautious about it.

    • As a person with an uncommon food allergy (garlic and onions), I go into many situations planning to be unable to eat most of the food, and I never expect folks to change their menu for me.

      That said, it would be AWESOME if I knew "eat this, not this" and I'd be happy to RSVP that information. Even if that meant only eating green beans and wedding cake. 🙂

      2 agree
  3. So at my wedding I'm the gluten free person, I have Celiac. I am actually going to have a mostly gluten free wedding (only the beer will not be gf), but I don't plan on telling anyone unless they ask me or a bridesmaid. I'm afraid that people won't want to eat the desserts if they know they are gluten free because it will be a turn off to people who don't have a specific need because they will be expecting them to taste different.

    I can totally get behind this at someone else's wedding though, because as a guest it would be totally awesome to know what is in the food and if I can safely eat it lol.

    • Gluten-Free here too also going totally GF except beer at my celebration. I have a few family members who are also GF for various reasons including my mom so I did tell everyone but so far we've served gluten free things to everyone already so they're pretty cool with how stuff tastes. Some of my friends have even converted to GF products I've served them on account of them being that damn good (my organic blue corn tortilla chips are a common one)! I do sympathize with the "ewww it's going to taste different" thinking though. If a person tries one thing that tastes off they think it all does (admittedly it all used to but stuff is improving).

      On that note I agree with and totally would appreciate seeing cards like those when I go to events. I don't like liquid fire coming from my butt and I don't think other people with sensitivities like their symptoms either. I always have something I can eat on hand but getting told after the fact that XYZ item was safe (this has happened before) is really annoying.

  4. TLDR: the more you communicate with your guests about this stuff up front, the better it will be for everyone at your wedding.

    I'm a vegan and have brought protein bars to a lot of weddings. I can remember having a pretty good vegan option at one wedding I went to, uninspiring but sufficient vegan options at a couple, and starving at most of the ones I've attended. As long as I'm given something edible and vegan, I'm a grateful guest. I really do appreciate when people ask about dietary restrictions on their RSVPs. I've received some invitations that didn't offer any veggie options, though most nowadays seem to ask people to check off chicken, beef, or vegetarian. But since the vegetarian option is almost always butternut squash ravioli drenched in butter or a piece of eggplant covered in melted cheese, that doesn't work for vegans. This puts me in a bind because if I order the vegetarian option I'm 99% certain I won't actually eat any of it, but if I ask for a special vegan entree I know I might seem like a rude ingrate. Simply not eating at the reception makes the other guests feel uncomfortable and makes the bride and groom look like bad hosts, so it's an unpleasant situation all around. The best way for hosts to avoid this problem, it seems, is just to write "Please notify us of any dietary restrictions" with a blank to be filled in on the RSVP card. You can always follow up with your guests for more info if you're not sure what they can/can't eat. Veganism is common enough now, as well as celiac diagnoses, that any caterer should be able to provide you with options for people with these dietary restrictions. If a caterer tells you they can't provide any vegan or gluten-free options, that's a red flag that they probably are not experienced cooks and you should hire someone else.

    Once guests are at the wedding, there are a few things you can do to accommodate those with dietary restrictions. I suggest labeling all foods that are on buffet tables or serving trays in a way that makes is clear that they're gluten-free, vegan, whatever. If you want a system that's a little more subtle than this one you can use color-coding instead, or put little symbols on the signs (instead of writing out "gluten free" and "vegetarian" on each one), and make one comprehensive key explaining what each color/symbol means. You can display this key at the front of the buffet line or provide a paper copy to each guest who listed a dietary restriction on their RSVP.

    There are two reasons you should label the food. One is that you are going to be too busy talking to people and hopefully enjoying yourself to personally inform people of what ingredients are in each food item. Servers often are not sure. The other is that you want to make sure the people who don't have dietary restrictions don't eat all the food you had specially made for guests with dietary restrictions. At one wedding, my friend went out of her way to provide an awesome-sounding vegan option, but I never got to taste it because the omnivore guests didn't realize it was "the vegan option" and it was gone by the time I got to the front of the buffet line.

    If you are doing a plated dinner, be sure to tell your servers which table the individual(s) with dietary restrictions is sitting at, so that someone else who didn't order that option doesn't take their plate. I haven't had this happen to me at a wedding, but it's happened to me multiple times on an international flight where I requested a vegan meal when I booked my ticket, but someone who did not book a veggie meal in advance asked the stewards for one and was given my meal. By the time they got to my seat the vegan meals were gone. Anyone who shows up to a wedding where they didn't bother including their dietary restriction in the provided blank on the RSVP is probably not very serious about following their diet, and will probably be fine eating the regular food, so don't worry about them. They had their chance!

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