The Rockin' TJ Ranch proudly caters our menus custom to every wedding party, and with that, we provide to our clients an experienced checklist of questions and considerations regarding the dining party's potential food limitations. Some tips when choosing and discussing options with your venue or caterer:
1) Design a response card.
When you send out your RSVP's, include a response card to indicate whether or not your guests possess any food allergies or intolerances.
2) Decide on the extent of gluten-free, vegetarian, etc.
Planning and pricing range can greatly vary if you're serving gluten-free or vegan meals to all guests or only certain guests. However, if many members of the wedding party contain the same allergy or eating restrictions, it's worth considering making all food fall under the same umbrella in order to avoid cross-contamination or accidental ingestion by tipsy attendees.
3) Choose the venue, keeping gluten-free safety as a priority.
Carefully vet the venue and caterer for the wedding reception to determine whether or not they are truly knowledgeable regarding gluten-free preparation. Some questions to ask:
- How do they prevent cross-contamination in their kitchen and while serving?
- Is their entire staff trained and aware of safe food allergy practices to avoid cross-contamination?
- Can they safely accommodate guests with varying allergies?
- Where is the food prepared?
- How will it be served--buffet, family-style, or plated?
- If you'e not going with an entirely gluten-free or vegan menu, will there be a different color or shape plate used for the different types of food for easy recognition?
- If it's a buffet, will any potential cross-contaminating foods, utensils, and dishes be kept safely separate?
- Will gluten-free, allergen-free, or vegan food be clearly marked?
4) Prepare the seating chart.
Using the food allergy information gathered from your response cards, make a spreadsheet and seating chart for the caterer that includes all allergies. Place cards should have the table assignment, entree of choice (depending on the style of dinner), and any allergies noted.
5) Decide on the wedding cake.
Wedding cakes are expensive, and vegan or gluten free wedding cakes are drastically more so. You might consider a large order of cupcakes and a small ceremonial cake to satisfy, if need be.
6) Make plans for the rest of the weekend.
Many weddings today involve a whole weekend of activities (reception for guests upon arrival, rehearsal dinner, wedding day lunch, morning after brunch, etc.). It's important to vet these vendors with the same processes as with the wedding reception.