Two of my favorite people got married on Saturday and I was happy to be a part of their big day.
It was a beautiful outdoor wedding with touching speeches, delicious food, and thoughtful details such a donation to the Alzheimer’s Society on behalf of the guests. Behind the scenes, the bride and groom had also worked hard to accommodate a rare combination of life-threatening anaphalactic allergies. Some people with severe food allergies can react to traces of allergens through cross-contamination, and so the wedding was designed with this in mind.
If you find yourself planning a big event or bringing food to a potluck where someone carries an EpiPen, here’s what might help:
- Not all people with allergies are the same. There are different types of food allergies, and different reactions. Ask questions.
- Select a chef/restaurant/cook/venue that is skilled enough to believe the severity of the situation, and has the willingness to live up to the challenge.
- If you have the allergies, don’t take your own knowledge of specific ingredients for granted. If the allergy is to ‘milk’, communicate to the cooks how this also includes the butter that started the sauce, traces of milk in margarine, etc.
- What’s hiding in the ingredients list? Ask the kitchen to review the ingredients of prepared foods in the kitchen. Double check- companies can change their ingredients.
- What shared that jar last week? Ask the kitchen to beware of cross-contamination through dirty knives sharing contraband condiments. Start new jars if unsure.
- Write it down for everyone. Shifts get changed and someone always misses the email. The venue’s wedding coordinator printed off instructions for every person working that day.
- Don’t forget the bartender. In this case, all Clamato juice was removed from the bar.
- Ask your guests explicitly for what is needed to make the event safe for the allergic person. The wedding website asked people to not eat anaphalactic triggers the day of the wedding, and there was a small reminder sign at the guest book table.
- Family and friends who spent the week before the wedding in close contact to the bride and groom avoided eating the allergic triggers entirely.
- There was no receiving line. Although a break with custom, this limited the amount of touching between guests and the couple and their subsequent risk of exposure.
- No potlucks or sharing cooking for the stag, shower, wedding rehearsal dinner, etc. I’m sure people were disappointed they couldn’t share in the cooking, but because their kitchens were not allergy-proofed this wasn’t possible. Instead, people could gather in one allergy-proofed kitchen to prepare food together.
- Do it right at home too. Build up your training in allergy-proofing your refrigerator, pantry, cooking surfaces, and dishwashing from cross-contamination and then you’ll be able to feed anyone with confidence, any time.
- Before you cook, what did you eat today? Wash your hands, arms, and depending, you may have to change your clothes.
As you can see, a good time was had by all. It was great that everyone could enjoy the delicious meal together. A big thanks to Vivienne McMaster for the help with the Polaroids and to Joao Borralho for the website.
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See recent illustration and design work at www.sambradd.com. A summer art and craft fair schedule will be confirmed soon.