The simple wedding menu to fit almost ALL dietary restrictions

Updated Apr 5 2018
Guest post by Liana Bakker
The Fine Dining Menu from Minted.
The Fine Dining Menu from Minted.

We were looking for a casual menu that wouldn’t break the bank, but we have all the menu issues of the modern ages…

Vegans, vegetarians, hard-core meat eaters, comfort food-lovers, tomato allergy, glutflaen allergy, dairy allergy, nut allergy, and even a garlic allergy. I also have health issues that flare up from time to time so avoiding some of the above food could be important for me, too.

When you have foods you have to avoid, it can be a huge pain to eat at a large function. Even when people try to make things for us "picky eaters," they often fail. And sometimes it's disaster… There’s a meat version and veggie/gluten-free version, but it's labelled wrong, and a meat-eater with celiac ends up spending the epic dance party on the toilet.

Now, my wedding menu is not fancy, and this isn’t for everyone, but again I’m looking for easy, as all-encompassing as possible, and budget-friendly. Here’s what we’re serving up:

BBQ chicken

BBQ Chicken
Photo by saechang – CC BY 2.0

Baked beans (no pork in this version)

Photo by avlxyz – CC BY 2.0
Photo by avlxyzCC BY 2.0

Mac and cheese casserole

Untitled
Photo by neilconwayCC BY 2.0

Baked potatoes (add your own sour cream, green onions, cheese or bacon)

Baked Potato Bar!
Baked potato bar from Caitlin & Rob's wedding (Photo by Justine Johnson Photography)

Roasted veggies

Roasted Root Veggies
Photo by maya83CC BY 2.0

Greek Salad

05 07 13_Greek Chopped Salad_0023
Photo by mealmakeovermomsCC BY 2.0

Another salad (not sure exactly what yet but it won’t have any cheese or tomatoes)

Photo by Honeysuckle Photography
Photo by Honeysuckle Photography

Buns

Mmm... fresh hot dinner rolls
Photo by jeffreywwCC BY 2.0

Veggie platter

Veggie Tray
Photo by merfamCC BY 2.0

Pickles

Pickles
Photo by dierkenCC BY 2.0

Yes, everyone with a restriction will have a couple things to avoid. And I’m sure some people would want more meat options or more vegetable protein options, which is fair. But the hard-core meat-eaters will just have to be happy with chicken and loaded-up-on-bacon baked potatoes. The vegans will have to skip the chicken, mac and cheese, and Greek salad. But then they still have beans, roasted vegetables, potatoes, salad, buns, and veggies. (Which, If I am remembering correctly from my time as a vegan, is actually not that bad.)

  • Vegetarians: Only need skip the chicken.
  • Gluten-free: No mac and cheese or buns.
  • Tomato-free: No beans or Greek salad.
  • Dairy-free: No mac and cheese or Greek salad.
  • Can’t have garlic: No Greek salad for you.
  • No nuts: No problem!

My fiancé still gets his favorite — anything with cheese on it. I still get my favorite — Greek salad. And everyone (including any picky-eating children) will have something tasty to nosh on for a reasonable price.

We love hearing about special-needs wedding menus — share yours in the comments!

  1. This is a nice layout. This is why we — & everyone we know — is doing / has done tacos for the wedding. Cheap & easy to customize for specific diets. And kinda fun to design your own meal too.

    • Yes yes yes to tacos! Reasonably easy to accommodate the meat-eaters, vegetarians, vegans, Celiacs, processed-food avoiders, cheese lovers, etc. We have not yet finalized our menu, but I am fairly certain it will include a taco bar.

  2. Sounds tasty!

    We are going with a similarly simple menu. BBQ tri-tip for the red meat eaters, BBQ chicken for the non-red meat eaters, a wonderful kale/brocolli/brussel sprouts salad, caeser salad, our day of coordinators husband (who is also in charge of BBQing) volunteered to make a quinoa salad, some sort of potato dish (scalloped maybe?), dinner rolls and cupcakes! We are having three different flavors, including lemon sugar-free and gluten-free so that everyone can enjoy!

    There may be other foods added to the menu, but I think we've got a very good (and simple!) start to a delicious meal 🙂

  3. This is so close to what we're doing too! We're having 2 crocks of beans–one with bacon, the other without, and rigatoni with meatballs on the side, veggie lasagna, BBQ chicken, salads and relish tray.

  4. Looks delicious! But check the ingredients in the BBQ sauce… They are not always gluten-free friendly. I'm definitely stealing this as a base for our rehearsal dinner, where we have vegetarians, gluten-free, and diabetic guests.

    • Good call on the bbq sauce!!! I will double check it but I'm pretty sure it's gluten free since the caterer regularly does gluten free weddings, makes the sauce himself and knows about the issue.

  5. My sister is vegan and wheat free and my fiance is wheat and dairy free but eats meat. We've gone for paella- veggie, chicken and seafood which suits them both and the combinations of veggies, pescitarians and fasting coptic Christians that are coming!

  6. I don't have much of use to contribute, but OMG THE FLOWERS IN THE LAST SALAD.

    Violets are indeed edible, and tasty – there are others! Nasturtiums are tried and true (a bit spicy/peppery); marigolds, calendula, verbena, gladiolus – how cool would it be to have a flower-power salad? Beautiful and delicious! Also vegan and gluten free.

  7. We had an Asian caterer, serving Vietnamese rice bowls with tofu or chicken. Just another option idea if you want something outside of BBQ that is budget friendly, tasty, and easy to accommodate dietary restrictions. People LOVED it, and it was unique and delicious.

  8. Yep! This is so like our menu. We have two different types of meat, one type of fish, jacket pots, and a bunch

  9. Yep! This is so like our menu. We have two different types of meat, one type of fish, jacket pots, and a bunch of salads… We did request some more veggie safe stuff but I dunno what we're getting. Lol. 🙂

  10. Good for you! And it all looks yummy! I know we have similar dietary restrictions: meat lovers, vegetarians, gluten allergen, and I have a soy allergy. We are doing a fajita bar and a salad bar. Lots of options of meats, veggies, dairy items, etc. And there will be chips and queso (plus plenty of desert) for the kiddos! I know trying to find a meal beyond one meat and one veggie (usually containing a meat or a cheese) can be hard. Hope it all goes well for you!

    • This would depend on what degree someone keeps kosher. Some Jews will not eat anything unless it has been prepared in a kosher kitchen, where the utensils are kept separate and nothing non-kosher has been also prepared. So these guests would need a meal provided from a separate, kosher, caterer. However, if they are like my fiance and me, and eat "ingredients kosher"[1] when outside the house, a taco would end up being functionally vegetarian or include fish, if present.

      [1]That is, we are aware that kitchen is not kosher, and in some cases, serves seafood and pork, but we will choose dishes that only contain ingredients that are kosher by default (eggs, bread, fruits and vegetables).

      • A meat taco with no dairy could also be ingredient kosher, if the person eats kosher animals but does not care about kosher slaughter.

        We often have taco bar at our parties because it is so flexible. And in our house everything is certified kosher. We do them dairy (fake meat, tofu or beans) but have friends who would do the same thing but kosher meat and no dairy (still the tofu or beans for the vegetarians).

  11. Some friends of mine did a baked potato bar with a ton of topping choices at their big summer backyard wedding and it went over great! Everyone seemed happy, and as a vegetarian I totally didn't go hungry. I think there were probably burgers or something else for the meat eaters too, but I just ate 2 potatoes loaded up with goodies, and I was fat & happy. It was the first time I had seen something like that at a wedding, and I thought it was genius! More baked potato bars please!

    • I'm so glad this helped you out! I was pulling out my hair for a bit trying to find something that everyone would like without being too adventurous for our guests or costing too much money.

  12. Dietary accommodation is such a big deal! I'm surprised more people don't make an effort to help their guests. I've been to a wedding where there was no choice at all in the meal served; everyone got a plate with beef steak, salmon, already-dressed salad, and a roll on it. Luckily for me I could eat everything available, but a vegetarian with celiac disease would have had to subsist on two ounces of salad. (And this was in the middle of NOWHERE, next to a state park; the nearest restaurant was probably 10 miles away and wouldn't have been open after the wedding.)

    We decided that our big reception priority was to feed our majority-travelling group of guests a nice sit-down meal, and we worked with our venue's caterer (we didn't have a choice there) to create a travel-themed buffet menu. There will be two dinner buffet tables, one Chinese food (American Chinese, as that was what was available but also will appeal more to our crowd), the other Mediterranean (Italian + eastern Med.), and a dessert table. Everything will be made so that the major anaphylaxis threats for our group aren't present (no peanut oil or shellfish, and just in case, tree nuts only in one of the desserts). Everything will be carefully labeled with the contents, and several options will be broken down to make them optionally vegan. Our menu so far, and we can adjust to accommodate additional dietary restrictions as the RSVPs come in:

    Chinese table:
    Mongolian beef
    Sesame chicken
    Stir-fried veggies (which can be made with tofu, but we opted not to because it might get soggy by the time it's served)
    vegetarian fried rice
    steamed rice
    vegan lo mein

    Mediterranean table:
    Assemble-your-own option with:
    chicken schwarma
    tzatziki
    hummus
    pita
    lettuce
    tomato
    olives
    feta

    A chicken and pasta option that sounds a lot like penne rosa, though is not so named.
    cheese ravioli
    caprese salad
    spinach and arugula salad with vegan stuff in it, dressings and cheese on the side

    Desserts:
    baklava (vegan)
    mini cannoli (I think we should call them cannolini! Orange rum and chocolate chip, and we tried them at the tasting and they are SO GOOD)
    mango mousse (a shout-out to India, though for some reason the recipe has gelatin)
    My mother is making a cake (chocolate with chocolate ganache filling and mocha frosting, shaped like a Mayan stepped pyramid)

    So, for every course there is something vegan available, there are gluten free options, there are non-spicy options, and we have asked that cooking oil be kept to a light usage to help out with anyone with IBS, et al.

    For the record, if you're wondering what the cost breakdown looks like for this, the caterer offers the buffets for a reasonable cost of $15 or so per person if you're serving more than about 30 per buffet, but if we go with more than one buffet option they insist that we purchase extra portions (psychology of choice–> trying and wasting food before others can get through line and then there won't be enough left for everyone, blah blah), and there are so many other costs (waiters, rentals, bartender, corking fees, service fees, tax, etc.) that in reality we're looking at over $50/person, plus the substantial space rental fee. A lot of the extra cost showed up about 6 months after we booked the space, when someone finally reviewed our contract and said "well, THAT won't be enough food!," and "plus you'll be paying for 9 hours of wait staff because they'll be involved in all the setup/teardown." Surprise! So… if you have a choice in caterer, make all of your options give you a very careful estimate as early as possible, and don't let them pull stunts like that.

  13. I used to work around the corner from a potato bar restaurant (take-out) and I adored it — I'd get chicken on the potato (either grilled plain or some kind of spicy) and it was perfect, especially in the winter.

  14. We are doing brunch. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day (often twice a day) and it couldn't be more easily customizable for our allergies and my vegetarianism. The main is a waffle bar with every topping in the world. Then cheesy scrambled eggs, bacon, quiche, mountains of fresh fruit and mimosas for days. We have some really yummy pastries, rolls and two different salads. There's a butternut squash ravioli and a roasted chicken with potatoes. My celery allergy and his nut allergy along with our best man's egg allergy are all safe. And nobody can complain we don't have enough of what they like. If so, we'll send them to the keg and then they'll be happy.

  15. This sounds great 🙂

    We're having a completely gluten and dairy free meal with a 50/50 split between vegetarian and meat based options. I've been to so many weddings where I've either been accidentally glutened or only been able to eat the salad or cold fish starter, and I totally get that. I'm one person amongst a sea of hundreds and you really can't just think about one person when you have so much to do. It's the same at conferences.

    But I thought at our wedding I really wanted to be able to eat and eat decent food. So we've gone for:

    A mezze of babaganoush, home made hummus, white bean & rosemary dip, tapenade and raw veggies to stick into them. I'm negotiating if the caterers can do GF/DF flatbreads or will let me make and bring some.

    and then for the mains
    Lamb and pomegranate tagine
    Chicken and lemon tagine
    Butternut squash and chickpea tagine
    Roast aubergine with spices and almonds (like a hot iman biyaldi)
    Rice

    I'm making the wedding cakes because the GF/DF ones available are so high in sugar and we have a few diabetics in the wedding party. The cakes are going to be our only dessert! So we're having an apple and date loaf cake, an elderflower and gooseberry layer cake and a rhubarb sponge, I need to do way more testing of these though as the frosting for the layer cakes seems to be failing with DF cream cheese!

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