Food preferences and how to manage them

Couples often ask, “how do we manage all the particular food preferences of our guests?”. This is because in an Indian wedding there are always many guests with different food preferences such as vegetarian, vegetarian no-eggs, vegans, no garlic/onion, no pork, and of course allergies like gluten, lactose, nuts, shellfish etc. And making sure that each guest has dishes that they can eat is extremely important, also because the food itself is one of the most important parts of an Indian wedding. Guests will talk about the food, will try the food, will look at the food presentation. If someone cannot eat because their needs have not been taken into consideration, you risk having the wedding ruined for something that has been underestimated.

So how do you keep all your guests happy?

First of all, you obviously need to know these needs. This information has to be collected in advance to ensure that it is passed on to the villa’s caterer or food provider. This work must be done well in advance to avoid that at the last minute it is no longer possible to meet some needs. Even if food providers in Italy are now well organized – given that even in Italy there are often people with celiac disease or who are lactose intolerant or vegetarian – the guests of an Indian wedding will always be more demanding than those of an Italian wedding.

For example, at a wedding we had 12 types of different needs out of 170 guests, which might have seemed like a nightmare for someone to be able to deal with all this amount of work. But this was not the case for us at Best Indian Weddings Italy, as specialists in Indian weddings we know perfectly well what to expect in terms of food preferences and we are used to facing these critical issues, overcoming them and ensuring that all guests are happy and satisfied.

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The right choice of dishes to meet all the food preferences

An important thing to know when working with an Italian food provider, or even an Italian wedding planner who doesn’t have much experience with Indian weddings, is that most of the menus they will send you will either have beef dishes, especially in the countryside, or fish and seafood if you are in a seaside area. Explaining that in an Indian wedding in 99% of cases beef is not eaten, just as octopus or mussels, can be a hassle. So first of all, the menu dish proposals must be calibrated to the Indian wedding, offering a wide choice of white meat and vegetarian dishes.

After that, when you have the starting menu already calibrated in this way, the second step is to choose the dishes that can then be adapted to the various food requirements of the guests without distorting the dish itself too much. Because a vegetarian dish can be requested in a vegan version, or a meat or fish starter should be easily convertible into a vegetarian starter. If once the dishes have been chosen and confirmed, dietary requirements arise which perhaps conflict with the chosen dishes, this could lead to a change of menu or the creation of completely different dishes which could lead to an increase in price.

Couples often don’t know it, but when preparing a banquet the caterers use a technical word “lines” for each course, and having completely different dishes requires creating an extra line, which is like having an extra course – and most likely it requires an extra charge. So already having a wide choice of dishes suitable for Indian weddings is a good starting point.

What can be done to make the process smoother?

Once we have gathered the guests’ needs and understood how to adapt the chosen dishes to meet everyone’s needs, we start with the seating arrangement. Sometimes couples do not want to have a seating plan and want to let the guests free to sit anywhere. However, we do not recommend this. First for aesthetic reasons because it would not be nice to see some tables half empty and others crowded. And also the main reason is that only with assigned seats the waiters can manage to serve the dishes correctly to those who have specific preferences and therefore make the service fast and smooth. Precisely for this reason the seating plan is essential.

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Once the seating plan has been created, it will be the wedding planner’s task (if you have one) to cross check these dietary requirements with the various tables at hand to create a spreadsheet that will facilitate the service and make the waiters aware of the situations of each table. Be careful though because it is a job that must be done well in advance and not on site, because it is very important to pay maximum attention and check everything in detail. Because making mistakes with allergies can have serious consequences.

Step by step process to manage your guests’ food preferences

You may hear of weddings where a dish was served to someone with allergies containing a food they couldn’t eat and had an allergic reaction. And if a person doesn’t have the right medicine with them, it’s very risky, and who will be responsible then?

So, the best way to proceed to avoid running this risk is:

  1. gather all the food preferences,
  2. create a list with groups of requirements/allergies,
  3. write the names of guests for each group (this way you will also have a specific number),
  4. prepare your seating arrangement,
  5. create a spreadsheet with tables names and food requirements/allergies per table,
  6. send it over to the food provider.

How do you ensure that each person receives the right dish?

This is where the collaboration between the wedding planning team and the food provider comes into play. In fact, when we manage our couples in full planning, we not only do the briefing with the waiters to check that they are aware of everything, but we accompany them table by table with the list of food preferences at hand to ensure that the dishes go to the right people. What if you don’t have Best Indian Weddings Italy team by your side? In that case it is important that the food provider has a detailed spreadsheet so as not to make mistakes.

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Obviously when it comes to other buffet meals, it is not possible to know where guests with particular food requirements will be seated. In that case it is essential to separate the dishes on the buffet tables, indicate what each course contains with labels to place in front. We also create a corner dedicated to food for people with allergies to prevent other people from taking the food reserved for those with allergies.

As you can see, satisfying the various food preferences is not an easy task. There is a lot of preparation beforehand and a lot of attention on site during service. If you have BIWI for the planning of your wedding, you can sleep soundly. If you have chosen someone else or are planning on your own, keep in mind what is said and pay extreme attention to this matter. And if you need help with this specific aspect, our virtual planning help SOS Indian Weddings in Italy may be the right service for you. Click here to explore more in detail>>>