When planning culturally inclusive social events, whether it be a wedding or corporate, there are a few things you need to take into account – in particular, the food! As an event planner, you need to be understanding of your guests’ dietary needs and organise accordingly.
Here are our best tips for planning your next corporate or social event with halal food:
Know your halal basics
The first step of your planning process should be to get to know Islamic customs - specifically their eating habits! Nothing ruins an otherwise perfectly planned event like food that none of the guests will eat. So, if you’re planning an event which requires a cultural touch, whether you’re Muslim or not, you need to be sure you are pertaining to Islamic law in terms of allowable food. This is extremely important especially at cultural events like weddings. Halal simply means "permitted" or "lawful" according to Islamic religion. This plays a large role in Muslim life, and certainly affects the way they eat and prepare food. For any food to be considered halal it must comply with Shari’ah law.
For example, some foods and drinks which are not halal (haram or forbidden) for Muslims to consume include:
- Pork and pork by products
- Other animals which have not been correctly prepared under Islamic Shari’ah
As you can imagine, planning an event around these requirements can be tricky. To avoid mistakes during preparation, do your research and come up with a draft menu with your caterer, who should know whether it’s halal or not. Another good tip is to visit local halal grocers to get menu ideas.
Selecting a venue
Do you know any Islamic-specific venues? If not, do a quick search in your area or ask for recommendations. A fancy restaurant, the guest of honour's home or some other appropriate venue could all do the trick. It really all depends on the type of event you are planning. When selecting a venue keep in mind the amount of guests, whether the event is formal or informal, the theme and the decorations.
Image credit: Guilhem Vellut, Flikr
Search for a flexible and creative caterer
Keep in mind that not all catering services will have had experience in handling halal events, so do your research and ask around for recommendations. Here are some of the best questions to ask your potential caterer:
- Has the caterer been involved in a halal event before? Do they know the specific requirements and preparation techniques?
- Can the caterer accommodate for the Islamic restricted diet? A creative caterer should be able to develop a unique and interesting menu without certain meats and drinks.
- Does the menu offer options for those with other dietary requirements? As with any event, vegan and vegetarian guests will require some extra thought.
- Can the caterer provide a list of ingredients for each meal? Guests will appreciate it if this is clearly printed on the menu.
Be sure to meet with any potential caterers and explain the nature of the event you are planning. The caterer you hire should be flexible with their menu ideas and embrace the challenges of abiding by halal practice for your event.
Your caterer will of course be able to provide some delicious menu ideas, but don’t be afraid to ask guests for their input. A fun way to find out your guests favourite halal meal is to ask them on their individual RSVP cards. When the RSVP cards are returned, you and your caterer will have an idea of what kinds of foods your guests are expecting and would love to eat during the event. This is where a skilled and flexible caterer is essential – given a reasonable time frame, they should be able to adapt the menu to incorporate new ideas and requests.
At Laissez, helping our customers with appropriate menu selections that cater to the many dietary needs of guests is a key part of the planning process, and something we have years of experience with. If you'd like help planning your next event please contact us to discuss your needs further.