Difficult Wedding Guest Quandary
April 6, 2015 6:53 AM   Subscribe

A wedding guest just told us that her plus-one has tricky dietary restrictions our caterer cannot handle. What are our obligations?

We are holding a casual wedding with a low-budget (but tasty!) caterer in about a month. We just heard from one of our guests that her plus-one (who we have never met) has a tricky set of dietary restrictions that our caterer has told us he cannot fully accomodate. (Note: because I don't know this person, I'm not sure what portion of the restrictions come from actual health or religious reasons, versus what is simply preference.)

Obviously if this were a close friend or family member, we would have known about the dietary issue from the start and planned around it. I'm struggling to figure out what obligation we have to a guest who gave us pretty late notice of the issue and whom we don't have as much of a personal tie to. Of course I want to be a good host! But I also can't afford to somehow hire a new caterer at this juncture just for one person. Should I let my friend know that they are welcome to come but on their own for dinner? Or say "Here are the accomodations the caterer CAN deal with, is this close enough?" Or try to bring in a totally separate meal from a local restaurant (could be tricky given the area, one more thing to deal with on a super busy day, again this is for someone I HAVE NEVER MET, but then again, I think it's important to be a good host). Or say "You're welcome to bring your own food to nosh on, and we will reimburse you" (That...seems weird somehow, and not sure whether the venue/caterer would even permit it...although if we just do it, maybe they won't even notice) Some other magical option? What would you do in this situation?
posted by rainbowbrite to Human Relations (48 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You are not a restaurant, and I don't find it was particularly appropriate to even bring this to you. You are not obliged to (literally) cater to them, and of course in turn they are not obliged to come to the event that you're hosting.
posted by ftm at 6:58 AM on April 6, 2015 [54 favorites]

Honestly, I think that since this is a last-minute notice from a guest that you don't know very well anyway, I think that a polite note that says the following is more than enough:

"thanks for letting me know; I've spoken with our caterer, and they say that they can do {X, Y, and Z}. Unfortunately we can't change caterers at this juncture; let me know if perhaps a double-size portion of whatever your plus-one can eat would also suffice."

If that plus-one just has to end up eating nothing but salad all night, or gets a dedicated serving of whatever cocktail snacks they can eat, I'm sure it's not the first time they've had that happen. (And if they bitch, remind me to tell you about the time my best friend had her jaw broken right before our prom and so while the rest of us were having dinner, she was making do with a vanilla milkshake that the kitchen threw together at the last minute.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:00 AM on April 6, 2015 [39 favorites]

"Here are the accomodations the caterer CAN deal with, is this close enough?" seems helpful and more than reasonable to me, and any halfway decent guest will go "Oh god don't worry about it, I'll take care of my own food!"
posted by you're a kitty! at 7:01 AM on April 6, 2015 [22 favorites]

Seconding what the Empress said above. Alternatively, offer to bring a frozen dinner that meets dietary requirements, perhaps from Whole Foods or some other store that caters to people with restrictive food things.
posted by mareli at 7:03 AM on April 6, 2015

I have been vegan before; I was used to making do with whatever was available, and this person should be also. Tell your friend it's not possible to fully accommodate but the caterers will do the best they can, and don't give this another second of worry.
posted by something something at 7:05 AM on April 6, 2015 [13 favorites]

Something you could do that would be relatively easy - let's assume that the guest can eat a salad but nothing else, right? You could delegate your maid of honor to stop at a Whole Foods or co-op, etc, and pick up a couple of different kinds of pre-packaged snacks that the guest can eat - something that doesn't require refrigeration. Any large natural foods store will have tons of this kind of thing, whether it's gluten-free soy-free date bars or non-FODMAP crackers. Then the guest can supplement the salad with snacks and it will be a little more substantial.

But honestly, if I were a guest with serious dietary concerns going to a stranger's wedding as a plus-one, I would either do without or bring my own.
posted by Frowner at 7:06 AM on April 6, 2015 [8 favorites]

+1 to letting them know what you can do and asking which of those options they would prefer. Don't offer to pay them back for food they bring, you are correct that that's weird.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:06 AM on April 6, 2015 [9 favorites]

When I had more strict dietary preferences I never expected the hosts to provide a special meal (and never even mentioned it, sheesh--it's their event, not a Celebration of Me). The Empress has the right approach.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:18 AM on April 6, 2015 [8 favorites]

Put out an ingredient list for each dish.

The guest won't starve to death; he can eat before or after the occasion if it comes to that.
posted by tel3path at 7:19 AM on April 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm allergic to propylene glycol. I know that I can't be safe eating free food if it's lettuce, cake, frosting, pudding, anything with artificial colors, and a few other things unless I can somehow read the ingredients. I also know that I can't tell someone's wedding caterer "no propylene glycol" and have any expectation that this will be understood, pronounced correctly, or, of course, accommodated. I might mention it just in case the caterer is somehow super-educated about this stuff and/or great about serving only cake/frosting made from scratch, but I won't be put out if I get a response of "sorry, we have no clue about that".

What would make me most happy in this case is a tiny refrigerator space and a microwave where I could store the food I brought for myself, and the knowledge that I was causing so little disruption that nobody would secretly resent me. If the former is not possible, the latter is really the only important thing.
posted by amtho at 7:20 AM on April 6, 2015 [8 favorites]

I'd offer what the caterer can do, and offer to store, reheat and plate food if they bring something else (assuming your caterer will do this; they often will for kosher foods).
posted by jeather at 7:23 AM on April 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

You're close: "Here are the accommodations the caterer CAN deal with, is this close enough?"

Asking "is this close enough?" gives the impression that you're entering into a negotiation, where if the other party says "no it's not," you're going to come up with an alternative plan. But you're not! Because it's not reasonable to expect a host of a catered event to accommodate all dietary restrictions. Inform your guest of what your caterer can do, and consider the matter closed.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:26 AM on April 6, 2015 [69 favorites]

Comrade Doll is a professional event planner and here's what she says...

Commenters above are correct in that folks with such onerous dietary restrictions should be accustomed to finding themselves less than fully accommodated and you shouldn't beat yourself up if because of logistics or budget you can only do so much.

However, if the restrictions are religious in origin, an area with a modicum of folks from said faith will have vendors who are accustomed to delivering a kosher meal or a halal meal for a single guest at a wedding catered by someone else. The cost will greatly exceed ordering simple takeout, but it may still be something you can absorb. Find the appropriate food providers and give them a call and explain your situation before you rule it out.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:38 AM on April 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think that it's helpful to remember that the Plus One probably mentioned their dietary restrictions so that they can plan around the meal if necessary. Unless they are shockingly rude, they don't expect you to jump through hoops to make sure they get a meal specially made.

Folks who have super specific dietary restrictions are used to having to plan their own food, but, let's say you were planning on offering (for example) a celiac-safe gluten free meal anyways, then Plus One wouldn't have to eat in advance/bring a protein bar/etc. So it makes sense that they asked, and it makes sense for you to just let them know what the caterer *can* do, so that they can plan to eat in advance or whatever they need to do.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:44 AM on April 6, 2015 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, guys! It's good to hear that I'm not hugely off base or a bridezilla to not be able to make this work perfectly. It can be hard to get perspective in the midst of wedding planning!

For those curious -- the restrictions don't really match up with kosher or halal (or any other religion I am aware of) -- I just didn't want to rule out that this could be the reason since I don't know the person and am not aware of every single religion's dietary restrictions.

Also for those curious -- I am pretty sure the person is asking us to provide an appropriate catered meal, since the request was phrased as "Sorry for the late notice, but XX will need a [insert dietary restrictions here] meal for the reception." Somehow this makes me feel extra bad for saying no, but it sounds like the consensus is that most folks with dietary restrictions would not go about it this way, so I'm not the weird one.
posted by rainbowbrite at 7:49 AM on April 6, 2015 [7 favorites]

1.) Do not disinvite the plus one for dinner. That's just not nice. Dinner is not just about the food; it's a social experience, especially at an important social event like a wedding. Since we don't know whether these restrictions are health-based, I'm just going to give your guest the benefit of the doubt that they are. People with health-based dietary restrictions face social exclusion all the time and in my personal opinion (as the parent of a child with a life-threatening food allergy), the social consequences of food restrictions-- which are many and include people just not inviting you or retroactively uninviting you to events involving food, people publicly questioning at fun events whether your uncontrollable medical issue is made up, people acting like dealing with your food restrictions at an event is a huge annoying burden (which, hey, I'll admit in some cases is actually true, but it's still not nice to be made to feel that way all the time), etc.-- are actually the hardest part of dealing with a food allergy or intolerance. Harder than the "This cookie could actually kill me" part. Really. So please, don't be one more person socially excluding someone on the basis of food restrictions if there is a way around it.

2.) Do tell your guests that the caterer feels unable to accommodate these restrictions. A person with dietary restrictions will be unfortunately totally used to hearing chefs say "I have no idea how to feed you." So assuming these are decent people I doubt they will hold this issue against you. Tell your guests that you cannot feasibly change caterers at this point and admit that you are not sure what to do, but that you would like to work with them to make sure that the plus one can at least attend the dinner even if the plus one cannot eat what everyone else is eating.

3.) Do tell your guests it is all right to bring in whatever outside food they want. (Check to see whether that's true first, though. Some venues prohibit people from bringing in outside food. This is a common issue people with food allergies and intolerances run into when they try to bring safe food for themselves to events like birthday parties and weddings. It's a real PITA actually.)

4.) Do ask whether there is anything on the menu the plus-one thinks they can eat-- grilled vegetables, fresh fruit, a plain steak, crackers, SOMETHING, and see if you can get extra servings of that from the caterer.

It's up to you whether you want to try to bring in some appropriate outside food for this guest. Given the late notice and the fact that this is not someone you know or whose dietary restrictions you're familiar with, I don't think you're obligated manners-wise. I for one though naturally have a lot of sympathy for people with dietary restrictions, since my own kid is one of those people, and so, when I hold parties of any sort, I do try to make sure that there is SOMETHING provided by me, even if it's just a snack, for any guest with a dietary restriction to eat. It just makes me happy to include people in this way when I can.

HOWEVER, if do you decide to try to accommodate this plus one with some food from a restaurant or grocery store or something, do keep in mind that if this person has multiple dietary restrictions it may be more challenging than you think to find something they can actually eat. If you do decide to go out of your way to get something for special for them, be prepared for the possibility that they won't actually be able to eat it because it contains X ingredient that you missed. And in that event, please try your best to NOT take that personally. If this is truly a health-based situation this person might really literally be putting themselves at physical risk if they eat something that is unsafe for them just to please you because you made a good effort. If it's not a health-based situation then, hey, if you're nice about it, you're still being a gracious host, which is wonderful of you.
posted by BlueJae at 7:52 AM on April 6, 2015 [6 favorites]

Wow! That's really entitled of someone you've never met to ask of you at the last minute! I think you're under no obligation to provide a special meal. They should be used to having to make do, and can eat before or after the event!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 7:54 AM on April 6, 2015 [39 favorites]

I have a very weird set of dietary restrictions. I would NEVER expect someone to cater to my specific needs at their wedding, especially last minute. I would make sure that they have lists of ingredients, but really, those of us who have a lot of food issues know that many times we'll be fending for ourselves. Definitely just say "I'm sorry but my caterer can't accommodate this request" and move forward knowing you have done what you can.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 8:01 AM on April 6, 2015 [9 favorites]

Yeah honestly I'm just regular ol' vegetarian and I already offer to bring my own food with me if I think it's going to be an issue. Demanding super-weird restricted options (and last-minute, no less!) is super rude.
posted by you're a kitty! at 8:05 AM on April 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

Haha that is a shockingly rude request. Good lord. Don't add to your bridesmaid's stress by asking them to run around town buying this nutbar a special dinner. At most, find out whether it's going to be a problem if this person brings their own food, so they can know whether they should do that or just bow out.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:07 AM on April 6, 2015 [26 favorites]

I am pretty sure the person is asking us to provide an appropriate catered meal, since the request was phrased as "Sorry for the late notice, but XX will need a [insert dietary restrictions here] meal for the reception."

I would check with the caterer/venue about guests bringing in outside food. If that's possible, I'd respond with, "I checked with the caterer and they're unable to accommodate those restrictions. Your guest can bring in any food s/he needs, however, and they can store and reheat it to serve at dinner."

If they can't bring in outside food, then I'd respond with "I checked with the caterer and they're unable to accommodate those restrictions, and unfortunately the vendor does not allow guests to bring in outside food. Here is the menu of everything available. Can your guest eat any part of that? We can ask the caterer to provide double servings of anything safe."

Then I'd leave it up to them to decide what they want to do. I would not plan on going to the grocery store the day of my wedding, nor would I want any responsibility for creating a meal that's appropriate to someone with severe food limitations, because figuring that out is stressful and it's not your job. Weddings are really not the same as dinner parties. Do what you can do to accommodate the guest through your caterers, and leave it at that.
posted by jaguar at 8:12 AM on April 6, 2015 [19 favorites]

Your caterer may not actually be able to serve food you bring in for licensing, health code, contractural or whatever reasons. If your caterer cannot accommodate extreme dietary restrictions--and did not suggest that they could plate and serve the guest's own provided meal--just regretfully inform your guest that your caterer cannot accommodate this restriction at this late date. Maybe suggest a couple restaurants or grocery stores near your wedding and tell your friend you hope she will attend anyway. One month out for a significant dietary restriction is shit-out-of-luck territory for most weddings. Especially when the guest is not well-known to the hosts (you!) As noted above, the wedding is not the meal--it's not a dinner party and it's not the only chance this person will have to eat that day. Also, it's not a transaction--the food is not compensation for attending.

It's not rude to ask for accommodation, but it's unreasonable to insist upon it. My best friend has weird dietary restrictions from his doctor. And my caterer (and bartenders) said they were able to accommodate him--even so, he did not eat anything at my wedding because he's really not comfortable trusting assurances that the food is okay for him when the request has been filtered through several parties.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:25 AM on April 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

One possible alternative, depending on the venue capabilities, would be if you could offer:

"Here is what the caterer can provide. Alternatively, if you want to bring a pre-prepared meal, they can plate it and bring it out to you with the rest."
posted by mercredi at 8:26 AM on April 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nthing those who opine that this person is showing a pretty stunning sense of entitlement. If you have unusual dietary restrictions, that's fine, but phrase it as "X will need..." (emphasis mine, of course) is extremely rude, to my ear. I'm Jewish and I had several wedding guests who kept kosher, and they requested, not directed, that I have a kosher meal for them at my wedding. The person is there as a guest, not a customer, and has no business ordering a meal as though you're running a restaurant.
posted by holborne at 8:30 AM on April 6, 2015 [12 favorites]

And while I would hope that your guest and their guest respond graciously to your information that the caterer cannot accommodate them, I'd also want to be prepared in case they were less gracious. Any protest of the "That's not good enough" variety can be answered with "That's the best we can do," and your guest's guest (or your guest and their guest) might then decline to come to the wedding. That's ok; they're adults and they get to make choices. "I'm so sorry it won't work for you after all, and I look forward to seeing you at X event instead," is all you need to say if it comes to that.
posted by jaguar at 8:35 AM on April 6, 2015 [6 favorites]

> Also for those curious -- I am pretty sure the person is asking us to provide an appropriate catered meal, since the request was phrased as "Sorry for the late notice, but XX will need a [insert dietary restrictions here] meal for the reception." Somehow this makes me feel extra bad for saying no, but it sounds like the consensus is that most folks with dietary restrictions would not go about it this way, so I'm not the weird one.

If this were a standard request for vegetarian or kosher or whatever, it would be sort of okay to phrase it like this. For unusual sets of dietary restrictions, this is an unnecessarily awkward and rude way to go about it. Ugh.
posted by desuetude at 8:36 AM on April 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Jaguar has it. Them asking you flat-out like that (""Sorry for the late notice, but XX will need a [insert dietary restrictions here] meal for the reception") does seem pretty demand-y.

But it does give you the perfect out ("Ooh, yeah, sorry, this is a little too late to have the caterer be able to prepare something just for them, so here's what we CAN do"). You're being more than accommodating.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:41 AM on April 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

Also noting that "sorry, yeah, this is a little late for the caterer" makes it look like the caterer is the bad guy in this scenario instead of you (well, really, THEY'RE the bad guys for putting you through this, but you know what I mean).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:43 AM on April 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Jaguar has your answer.

As a culinary professional, I am super curious why you have not disclosed the exact request. It's difficult to judge if the caterer is also being unhelpful, or if the guest request is wildly inappropriate.

Accommodating gluten or egg intolerance is super difficult, making an extra vegan or vegetarian main course (which would likely then be pareve) is pretty easy. Ditto reheating something - unless there is some worry the caterer might be sued afterwards due to the seriousness of the restriction -- an allergy so severe even adjacent dishes can not contain the ingredient, a religious requirement the chef must be ordained or officially blessed to fulfill.

In general, it's OK to decline any highly unusual last minute request as long as you are polite. Your discretion around disclosing the nature of the request makes me think your friend is translating the request incorrectly, or it is so bizarre as to not be easily accommodated. Don't waste another moment. Punt this back to your invited friend, let them and their guest work it out.

Enjoy your wedding day :))
posted by jbenben at 8:50 AM on April 6, 2015 [7 favorites]

I agree with other comments but want to nth not offering to send someone to the store on the day of the wedding. A day is very short, and it will go by very quickly. As you already know, things on your to do list take up your attention, because you read them over and over again. You don't want your super-important people to be wandering the aisles reading ingredient labels. You don't want to spend part of your last site visit checking out the local grocery's offerings. You don't want to spend 10 minutes explaining to your bridesmaid that on Aisle 8, halfway down, is the [gluten free] section. Especially with last minute notice, the guests can do this themselves. Just act apologetic (and not like their food restrictions are weird, obviously), and that should smooth over any feelings of unwelcomeness caused by not being able to accommodate this.
posted by slidell at 9:06 AM on April 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Gluten-free person here: I usually bring myself a snack and keep it in my purse. No wedding is so long that I can't live off of a meal I've eaten beforehand and an emergency snack.

One thing I want to note: this is a rude request, but you don't know the source of the rudeness. It could be that her partner (the invited party) phrased things this way. When I first realized I had a problem with gluten my partner was AGGRESSIVE about it in a way that was uncomfortable to me. I always wanted to just fly beneath the radar, but he wanted to make 100% sure I would be comfortable.
posted by CMcG at 9:07 AM on April 6, 2015 [16 favorites]

Strongly agree with the others - having had dietary restrictions in the past, I've been very flexible & especially understanding in wedding type situations, but my partners were often aggressive about pursuing perfect meals for me wherever we went (which made me feel more uncomfortable than smiling through yet another "I guess it's salad & a dry roll for me again" meal, which I was used to, but they were not). Especially given the timing, I'd wonder if this isn't a new relationship in which the guest hasn't learned how their +1 would rather frame their dietary needs publicly.
posted by pammeke at 9:48 AM on April 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

The husband has strict dietary restrictions, so he eats ahead or brings his own stuff (depending on the event). Her plus-one should be able to do the same. Let her know as instructed above that you can't change caterers so you can only partially/possibly not at all accommodate her plus one for mealtime.

You could tell her the caterer would be happy to provide drinks, dinnerware, etc. if he wanted to bring his own food in a container, or that if they wanted to duck out for dinner and come back, that would be fine too.

She may not like any of those responses, but in that case she is being unreasonable, not you.
posted by emjaybee at 10:21 AM on April 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I also wonder whether the late notice + entitled phrasing are actually the fault of the plus one with the dietary restrictions or the fault of the guest doing the communicating on this issue. Sometimes people with dietary restrictions would rather not bring up the problem with the host at all, and just not eat. (Because bringing dietary restrictions up at all, ever, can cause you to be disinvited / disbelieved / interrogated / accused of rudeness even IF you are super duper polite about it and bring it up well in advance.) It's also possible that the non-plus-one person is entirely unfamiliar with how challenging this particular set of dietary restrictions is to accommodate, and THOUGHT it would be as easy as asking for a vegetarian meal. Hard to say since you yourself know very little about this person, and since you haven't shared what the restrictions are.
posted by BlueJae at 10:25 AM on April 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

As vegetarians with food allergies, we run in to this quite a bit. We almost never ask for accommodations, first because it feels rude to us, and second, I don't feel confident allowing my highly-allergic daughter to eat food that was prepared out of my sight by people who may not be used to the kinds of separation in prep that are necessary to keep her safe. We always, always bring our own safe food to these sorts of things.

That said, there is some vigorous objection to the "last minute" request here and these people have given a month's notice! Isn't that enough?
posted by apparently at 10:46 AM on April 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

I don't agree that it's rude for your guest to inquire, (the demanding tone notwithstanding), the idea that a catering professional might be able to accommodate a particular request is not crazy out of the ordinary. I don't think it's a problem for you to tell them exactly what the caterer said about not being able to accommodate, tell them you'll hope they'll still be able to attend and enjoy themselves, and leaving it at that. You could that he is welcome to bring his own food if he would like, though that seems super obvious to me. As someone else pointed out, no wedding is so long that you cannot simply not eat. Above all, don't stress about it.
posted by vunder at 10:48 AM on April 6, 2015

It is rude because it was not an inquiry at all -- it was a statement that "X will need" (and that phrase was placed in quotes, so I'm assuming it was, in fact, a quotation) a special meal. That's not a simple inquiry; it's an order. An inquiry is phrase as something like, "Is it possible for X to get a such-and-such meal?" or "If possible, X would appreciate a such-and-such-free meal" or words to that effect. There's no obligation to accommodate that kind of thing at a wedding, especially when it's put forth by someone who hasn't even met the bride (or, presumably, the person the bride is marrying), and it's up to the person with the dietary restrictions to make arrangements to either eat before, eat after, or bring food to the wedding if that's possible.
posted by holborne at 10:54 AM on April 6, 2015 [6 favorites]

As I mentioned above, it's really actually not super obvious, or, in fact, true, that people with dietary restrictions can always just bring their own food to a catered wedding at a professional venue (or a birthday party, or any sort of social event at a venue other than someone's home). Many, many event venues have restrictions or outright bans on guests bringing in outside food, sometimes for health regulation / liability reasons and sometimes just because they want to force people who rent the venue to spend their money either on in-house food service or on certain caterers / restaurants that the venue has a business relationship with. People who live with real-life, serious dietary restrictions usually have had multiple experiences with this issue, and that might be why the guests did not just volunteer to bring their own food. In some cases I have had to talk to four or five different people at a venue just to get permission to let my son with a life-threatening food allergy bring in his own little snack bar or cupcake (let alone a whole meal that might need to be heated or something). I've also just flat out pretended I didn't know about such rules and snuck in safe food under certain circumstances, but I would definitely not want to do that at a wedding because that could potentially be disruptive.
posted by BlueJae at 11:00 AM on April 6, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for all the excellent suggestions and thoughts! I talked to the caterer and they can plate up a meal that the guest brings so that it comes out with all the other food. I will offer up that option along with the partial accomodations the caterer said they could do, and leave it at that.
posted by rainbowbrite at 11:06 AM on April 6, 2015 [16 favorites]

What about offering the caterers' number so the guest can ask directly?
posted by Dragonness at 11:20 AM on April 6, 2015

I would NOT ask "is this ok?" I would phrase it this way:

We've checked with our caterer and while they cannot make accommodations for ALL the requirements, they can do the following xxx. We have instructed them to make those accommodations and we are looking forward to seeing you both at the wedding.

This way, the ball's back in their court. You've made an effort, which is all that should be required. NO ASK, just tell. And then move forward with enjoying your day.
posted by raisingsand at 11:32 AM on April 6, 2015 [8 favorites]

The guest acknowledged that it's late notice, and that it's an inconvenience. Replying that unfortunately the caterer won't be able to fully accommodate her date's diet, but there will be (salad?) available is completely fine.

My friend's wife is deathly allergic to sesame seeds and oil, and she ate nothing at our wedding at all. Honestly lots of people with strict diet needs are used to making do. It's a nice to have but you're not a bad host for being unwilling to bend completely backwards for one friend of a guest.
posted by lizbunny at 12:06 PM on April 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Holy cow! I have Celiac Disease and basically plan on eating before or after most events, and if it's going to be long I pack unobtrusive (aka quiet) snacks in my purse. When I RSVP to a wedding it's usually with a, "I'll be there, but don't count me for food!".

There have been a couple of times where the bride has specifically told me that there are going to be gluten free options for me, and that has always brought me to tears! I definitely don't expect people to work around my food problems, and I never make a fuss over what I can and can't eat!

Your guest is being presumptuous, tell them what the caterer has offered and tell them you need to know what they decide with a specific time frame. It's not fair to your caterer to be scrambling right before the big day.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:02 PM on April 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

Agree with the others who think that your friend is making a bigger deal of this than the dietary restricted plus one will. I'm strictly gluten free and I have no problem eating ahead of events and then not eating at all when I'm there; I'd much rather be included and have no one make a fuss than to put people to lots of trouble. The absolute worst is when people make a huge effort but don't really know what they are doing and so I can't be sure if it's safe for me to eat. If I know in advance I can't have anything, I can prepare.

I think the friend phrased it badly and quite rudely but my siblings and friends do tend to be quite protective of me too even when I'd say nothing at all so I can see where they are coming from. Especially if they've recently had a crash course in that restricted diet and realised that in many cases, it is no big deal (though understandbly, totally impractical for a caterer). They probably feel quite awkard at the thought of their guest being unable to eat. But it's the plus-one's life, unless they live in a bubble, they are totally used to not being able to eat. At any rate, if you're in a group and chatting, people tend not to notice that you are not eating and if they do make a fuss, well, that's pretty rude too. Plus you get to be the person who makes those with larger appetites happy by passing on the things you can't eat.

Your friend might handle it weirdly but if the message gets back to plus one that unfortunately the caterer can't accomodate their request then I am sure that the plus one will be totally fine with that.
posted by kitten magic at 5:00 PM on April 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Jeez, what a clod! I agree with all of the good advice above, just say I've spoken with the caterer and here's as much as they can do for you... I don't have dietary restrictions but my son does and I have never showed up somewhere expecting someone to cater to his restrictions, I simply bring food he can eat. To expect someone to cater to your restrictions in way is just... I just hope they send you a nice gift that makes up for taking up your time with this.
posted by vignettist at 8:28 PM on April 6, 2015

I agree with the above, tell her as that the caterer can only do x as far as her dietary restrictions are concerned and leave it at that. Don't be me, who requested that the chef at my wedding prepare one raw food vegan meal for my raw food vegan ex room mate who refused to touch anything else. The chef actually studied books and pre planned multiple meals as practise in an attempt to ensure that this guest's meal was as elaborate and special as any other guests and not a pile of lettuce leaves. I mean, they really worked at it.

Only for my 'friend' to leave me an email, not even a phone call, an email, THE DAY BEFORE MY WEDDING, to inform me she wouldn't be going as she hadn't bothered to book flights early enough and now it was just too expensive to come, in those words. After RSVPing and telling me how excited she was to be there. So I was out the money I'd paid for the wedding plus it left a terrible taste in my mouth and I had to ashamedly let the chef know that his hard work had gone to waste.

She never contacted me again and I certainly never tried either. Did I mention this was the person I was living with the week up to flying out for my wedding? Appalling. And it wasn't that she didn't have money, she'd been flying all over the country up until that point. Anyway. Don't be me. Do as much as you can and then leave it, especially for someone you've never met.
posted by Jubey at 9:39 PM on April 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have a lot of food restrictions and the only thing that bothers me at events is when people assure me that I will have a full meal and get only lettuce, for instance. As long as your guest knows ahead of time what you can provide, that should be enough. (Being able to plate the food they bring is awesome and a really nice accommodation.) I'm used to bringing a bit of extra food or eating beforehand; as long as I know I should, that's fine.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:52 PM on April 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

My mom has celiac disease and if she is invited to this sort of event, she asks for the caterer's contact info so that she can discuss it directly with them. She will then discuss with the caterer what she can and cannot eat and if there won't be enough or she is concerned about cross contamination, she will either bring her own or eat before she goes. A recent wedding we went to, they totally accommodated her down to dessert and were very aware, but she still arranged it herself with the caterers.

Sorry, but your guest sounds rude. I agree with everyone else; if you inform them of the accommodations that can be made, and communicate the offer to plate any food they bring, you've done everything you can-- if they are upset at your response, then that's on them. Don't give it another thought and enjoy your wedding!
posted by thatminx at 5:17 PM on April 9, 2015

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