When choosing your reception menu, it's tempting to offer only your favorite foods for appetizers, entrées, and dessert. In reality, though, a handful of wedding guests will likely suffer from food allergies, which restricts what they can safely consume. Before finalizing your food options, make an effort understand your guests' allergies. If you know many of your friends and family have allergies, one option is to include a line on the RSVP card where guests can specify their dietary restrictions. You'll also want to update the food and drink section of your wedding website, where you can encourage guests to reach out if they have questions or concerns—especially if they have very serious allergies. But what if you don't know about allergies in advance? Because caterers want the entire guest list to enjoy a delicious meal, they'll often suggest that couples choose a few options that are allergy-friendly. To help you plan a meal that everyone can eat, get acquainted with six of the most common food allergies.
Many people have a dietary aversion to peanuts or tree nuts, including almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and pistachios. Because these allergies can be quite severe, it's important to have entirely nut-free options, or even appetizers and entrées that were made in a nut-free kitchen. Desserts tend to be the biggest offender here, so those with serious nut allergies often choose to skip cake and cookies to be on the safe side.
Those allergic to shellfish can't eat lobster, shrimp, crab, oyster, and other marine animals. If you're planning on having a raw bar at cocktail hour or reception, make sure to provide other options for those allergic to shellfish.
Egg allergies can be tricky since pastas, baked goods, and other food items may contain eggs. If you have guests with egg allergies, work with your caterer to provide safe and tasty egg-free alternatives.
Lactose intolerance means that a body can't properly handle lactose, which is found in dairy products like milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, and butter. Caterers can often accommodate this allergy with simple substitutions; for example, swapping a cream-based sauce or dressing for an oil-based one. Similarly, you can trade dairy milk for almond, cashew, coconut, or other varieties when preparing dishes.
If someone has Celiac Disease or a gluten sensitivity, they should avoid all foods containing wheat, rye, barley, and other foods with gluten. This typically includes bread, pasta, crackers, beer, and baked goods, among other items.
Those with soy allergies must avoid more than soy sauce and tofu. Many common food items secretly contain soy, including processed meats, canned tuna, baked goods, and Worcestershire sauce. As long as your caterer knows about the soy allergy in advance, he can avoid all products containing soy in his dishes.
This story originally appeared on Martha Stewart Weddings.