How the gluten free girl handles attending a wedding

Obviously you and I know being gluten free has its land mines.

We, you and I, know how devastatingly painful it can be when you accidentally “get glutened”, and it sucks, to say the least.

You and I can control what happens in our kitchen, we can control mostly where we go to eat, but the other day, someone asked me about what to about attending a wedding with a sit down dinner.

This raises a few questions.  Do you just go and not eat?  Do you ask the bride if there is a gluten free option?  Do you trust the chef or caterer?

I dunno, if it were me, I would probably not mention at all to the bride, as she has enough on her plate at the moment.  I would just eat before I go, and not eat during the wedding.  Well I guess it depends on how well I knew the bride.  If this were my wifes, brothers, co-workers cousin.. i might feel weird about stepping in.  If it were my own sister, I’d step up to help out.

Between you and me, I wouldn’t eat food that I didn’t trust or had not researched.  Even if I was the one hiring the caterer and they told me they had gluten free options, I might want to research into that a little deeper before I went out on faith.

I would imagine that some caterers and chefs REALLY understand the impact of gluten on someone with Celiac disease, but I imagine there are a handful of yukko’s who *think* they get it, but they really don’t.  Trust issues anybody?

I certainly wound’t expect the bride to just “GET IT” unless she or a family member suffers from Celiac disease.

All in all though, it sure can’t hurt to ask.  You could ask the reception hall, or jump in to help the bride with her plans by speaking with the caterer and starting a gluten free list of attendees.  While you’re at it, might as well add nut allergies and vegans to the list building.

I would also imagine that any decent venue would make accommodations for you if you called and spoke with them

CONCLUSION:

Don’t make the bride feel bad, she’s got a lot on her plate as it is.  Help her by being the one who volunteers to consult with the caterer / venue / chef  about food restrictions, and offer to contact all guests to start a gluten free / nut free / vegan list to help make things easy for you, the bride, and the venue.

Anything to add?  Would love for you girls to chime in on some of your experiences.

Comments

  1. Irene says

    Go and enjoy everything about the wedding–the socializing, the music and dancing, the bride and groom, the atmosphere, the laughter–everything except the food.

    Nothing is worth the risk of getting sick. No, you can not just scrape off the sauce and eat the food. You can not just pick off the croutons and eat the salad. It seems that most restaurants and chefs think of Celiacs as vegetarians. They are clueless about contamination. Giving up gluten is not just a fad or preference with us–it is a matter of life or death.

    I have tried for 7 years to join in and eat with my friends, and have gotten sick every time. Now, I don’t even drink a glass of water at a restaurant. The glass was probably washed with gluten-contaminated plates, or polished with a contaminated cloth. No, not even a cup of tea or a dish of ice cream. I sit there, and we talk, and no one seems to notice. I’ve attended a lot of wedding receptions, and the joy of staying healthy is part of the joy of the wedding. I also don’t want to be a trouble to anyone–and it doesn’t work, anyway. I eat before I go, and when I get home, I have a nice GF treat waiting. This sounds terrible, but I turn down invitations to sit-down dinners. It just isn’t worth the trouble, and I can visit with people at the cocktail party before, or the dancing afterwards. This is how I handle business conventions, too. I drink bottled water, rather than getting around the coffee and powdered creamers. Hotel and airport shops have things like potato chips, candy bars, and milk, so I never really starve.

    My heart goes out to all of you who have this disease! It is difficult, but we hare a cure, people! It’s so great to be well!

  2. Lynda says

    I always bring my own food. Usually cold salmon and a green salad. Looks great and tastes wonderful. Most of the people at my table are jealous that my food looks better then what their eating. My family all know about my limitations and have asked the caterer about getting a gf meal for me. Everyone of them has said NO and you still have to pay for her. Very sad but they all pay for me and welcome me to come. Now my daughter is getting married next month and we are just planning to have a similar gf meal for the gf folks which there should be about 12 coming. I am so blessed to have a understanding family

  3. says

    I either eat before or bring my own. A few years ago, I was a bridesmaid at a destination wedding where I knew there would be a language barrier. I put my meal (chili, gf muffin, and gf cookie) in my day bag, and when it was time to eat, plopped it on the plate in front of me and ate it. The bride knew ahead of time I would not eat a catered meal. I don’t risk getting sick for anyone.

  4. says

    I think that if you are not going to eat, you have to let the bride’s family know so they don’t pay for a meal for you. With the cost of catering, you owe that to them if you are not going to eat. Can you imagine if 50 of 300 guests didn’t eat @$40 + a plate?

  5. says

    You can’t trust eating out, so the best advice I would give is eat before you go or bring your own food, but remember being around other foods you can’t consume may be airborne and could cause health problems.

  6. Lisa says

    I just got married and had a space for dietary requirements on the rsvp card as I have gluten free and vegetarian friends and family. It’s easier if you know way before you even choose the menu. The meals as I’d arranged them in advance were apparently beautiful and not just some of the vegetables from the meat eating people’s dishes. GF guests could eat one of the options for each course without change. It really didn’t take much to organise and my friends and family were thrilled that I’d catered for them. I think in this day and age a bride who doesn’t care about dietary requirements is quite selfish. There are vegetarians so adding gluten free is no big deal. Maybe tell the bride what happens when you eat gluten so she “gets the picture”.

  7. Missy says

    This is the advice I’ve been given: “This is always a challenge. If time permits, it’s worth a call to the hosts. Ask their permission to contact the caterer or restaurant or call the caterer/restaurant directly and ask out the menu. See if a couple of items can be put aside for you – - a salad without croutons, fish without sauce, mashed potatoes in place of pasta or potatoes au gratin. Most establishments will give you the name of a person to contact when you arrive at the event. That person will want to know where you are sitting and they will take it from there. However, you will want to be sure that the meal is delivered as ordered. In an effort to get everyone served as quickly as possible, several other servers will try to give you a meal. Remind them that someone has put aside a special meal for you. (This is when it’s important to have that person’s name.) As for wedding cake and finger foods, you might have to avoid those, unless a cheese or vegetable platter is part of the appetizers and fruit or ice cream is part of the dessert. This is when you might want to bring a few gluten-free crackers or cookies to supplement your meal.”

  8. Lori says

    I have not read all of the posts but here are my thoughts. I have a good friend who is the chef at a banquet hall and he told me don’t bother the bride. Call the hall and ask to talk to the chef or manager the week before the wedding. You can usually tell by their answers whether they understand. The first year I was gluten free I had 5 weddings to attend and all were great experiences but one. Since I have attended many more weddings and other such functions with very few problems. Remember the bride or groom is paying a lot for that plate you aren’t eating.

    • Robin says

      Good advice, especially if you don’t have a daily relationship with the bride who is planning the wedding. Otherwise, you may mention your allergies to a family member who is helping out. The best time is before the catering arrangements are made. Once they have been made, then use the suggestion that you have made.

  9. Faith Uridel says

    Don’t forget guests that are not only upset by gf foods but also have glutamate poisoning of the neurotransmitters and often pass out from eating
    these foods…Dr. Russell Blaylock’s book on EXCITOTOXINS discusses this thoroughly. I just don’t eat out and concentrate on greens, lean meat and some veggies (even gelatin vitamin capsules set off symptoms…love all the ideas of byo…it’s only one meal, and you are there to celebrate a fabulous day! Skip the corn…all corn has micotoxins!

  10. Christie desrosiers says

    It cannot imagine a wedding situation with sit down meal that does not accommodate diet restrictions. Vegetarians, vegans, gluten free …. All would be addressed if the guest simply asked . I do…and most of my family or anyone whose wedding I would go to would know about my restrictions. It is appreciated because the meals are paid for whether eaten or not.

  11. Damaris says

    Because of this issue — lack of Paleo-accomodating wedding caterers — I keep delaying my wedding reception. I dread paying for a reception where I won’t be able to eat (!). Paleo is a more healthier choice for me than Gluten Free, however not many of my family/friends understand either food ifestyle choice. Forget the Paleo wedding cake. I just wanted to marry my husband!

    I don’t go to wedding receptions and if I did I wouldn’t say anything I would just bring something to eat so that I could appear to enjoy the reception along with everyone else. I don’t eat anywhere else but in my own home. This way I avoid any cross contamination and I feel safer eating food that comes from my own kitchen. Such a still life for those of us with food allergies.

  12. BreAnna says

    Well this is definitely not my favorite thing about having celiac’s disease but I have learned how to manage after some trial and error experiences. My first wedding I went to having newly diagnosed celiac’s I decided that the chicken breast, salad, and mashed potatoes must be safe, so I began to eat it. Then I realized there were small crumbs on the chicken breast so I ended up having to leave spending the rest of the night sick in the hotel room. The bride found out later why I had to leave and was very concerned that I had not asked or notified them of my restrictions. I felt bad and I told her I did not want to bother her with my problems on her already stressful wedding day. In the end though it just created more problems and concerns on why I had to leave which I felt terrible for not asking to begin with and for eating the food without asking if it was actually gluten free and just trusting my visual inspection. Lessons learned. So now the past few weddings I have been to I find it depends if it’s okay to ask the bride and groom about the food. If they are close friends and know my diet limitations I will ask if I can find out through their caterer if the meal or an option for a meal would be gluten free. Some couples offer to find out for me which I tell them they do not need to do but they insist so I am grateful for that. I will then get a designated gluten free card at the wedding for my meal if its plated. If it’s buffet style I will ask the chef what is gluten free. If they don’t know or it looks cross contaminated though I won’t dish. If I am not sure if I will be able to eat safely or not then I try and eat a large meal before hand, and bring protein snack bars in a small purse if I get hungry. This does seem to get everyone’s attention though at your table when you are not eating. I find that it usually begins with judging looks as to why your not eating and then someone finally asks why and so begins the long explanation on what celiac’s disease is and what gluten free is. I have become tired of this as well but am willing to educate people and their misconceptions and am always prepared for this. Thankfully my boyfriend has heard my speech so many times as well that he can help me out now with questions :) Overall for me it really depends what I am going to end up doing for a wedding based on how close I know the couple or how knowledgeable the caterer is about the food. The easiest time I found so far was just attending the reception after dinner was served for cocktails and dancing! No worries on the food portion of the night whatsoever!

  13. Patricia says

    Depending on the situation, flying overseas, weddings, banquets, I may carry items such as, nuts, dates, veggies, or a fruit. I may have lemon, and olive oil with me, just in case greens and veggies are available. DNA testing showed I have 2 genes, that I am not to have gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, sugar, pork. I eat very clean and careful. But, I now feel so great, it does not bother me at all, that I do not eat the foods that many people do.

  14. Lina says

    Just went through this with my niece’s wedding! Perhaps because it was family she was extremely concerned. My family knew I was recovering from gluten contamination(medicine) that nearly killed me. No exaggeration it damaged my peripheral nervous system as well. Despite adhering to gf strictly my body wasn’t responding. The only thing was to stay as gf as possible. The hotel was near stores that had gf food & the caterers were informed. My niece felt strongly they be educated. If there is an opportunity to educate we should. Awareness is the only way we can increase gf options for everyone. In the meantime ask to speak to the bride and see what she prefers, after she’s the one paying.

  15. barb says

    I wanted to add — remember that the wedding hosts pay for a meal whether you eat or not – and it is usually pretty expensive; so if you know you are not going to eat, they should know so that they can factor that into their confirmed count.

  16. barb says

    Hi, I have celiac disease and always put “gluten free” on my reply card to events – and then call the place directly to talk with the chef or manager. The last wedding I went to, they decided to make all the meals gluten free (meat, vegetarian and vegan). I have been to banquets where they have done the same thing for 600 people – and this is in a small rural area. No one even knows that the meal is gluten-free because it is so delicious. I also take a 3X5 card that says “GLUTEN-FREE MEAL” so that I can place it at my setting to help the waitstaff. I also carry a Larrabar and/or a GF roll just in case!

  17. Melissa says

    Just last weekend, I attended a BBQ with my sister (it was her co-worker’s affair) and I ate before I left, as it was very much a covered dish kind of affair.

    When we have pot luck dinners at work, I usually bring a protein to share that is GF, then pack sides for just myself. AND I always serve myself the protein first so that I don’t have to worry about cross-contamination issues. (My co-workers are familiar with my issue and they are great about it.)

    As far as a wedding, though, it would be tough if it were a buffet, due to the above cross-contamination possibility. If it were a sit down affair, I would ask the bride if there would be a GF option. If not, I’d ask for the caterer’s name and would contact them myself. You can usually tell, by asking a few pointed questions, whether or not they know what GF really means.

    Is it rude to ask for your dietary needs to be met? I don’t believe so, but I certainly would never put the burden of navigating the treacherous waters of GF on someone who was already busy/didn’t understand fully what it means.

    I try to be as responsible for my own needs, as I possibly can.

  18. Jeanette says

    Don’t bother the bride or groom as they have too much to think about. I call the wedding hall or caterer ahead of time and ask to speak to the manager or chef only. Then, as soon as I arrive I ask the waiter to get me the manager, chef or maitre d only and I explain to them that I have a serious allergy and I need a separate plain meal w/o gluten or they will need to call an ambulance during the wedding. Now we all know that Celiac isn’t an allergy but an auto immune disease and that depending on the person our symptoms can be immediate or next day but they don’t know that, it’s too new of a problem and stating it blatantly like this gives it the serious attention it and you deserve, even if you feel silly saying it.

  19. says

    Sometimes even asking doesn’t guarantee you safety– for a wedding rehearsal, someone informed us that the Chinese restaurant was all gluten free (“safe”) because “They don’t add gluten to their products!” So they advertised as gluten free. o.0

    • Grace says

      Soy sauce has gluten, but now there are gluten free soy sauce (tamari). Otherwise most Chinese entrees use fresh vegetable, meat, tofu, ginger, garlic, sesame oil are all gluten free
      Some premfixed sauces such as hoisting sauce, plum sauce…all have soy sauce. Be careful.

  20. says

    Speaking as someone who deals with catering folks as an ongoing part of my work, there are a lot of excellent hotels and reception halls that are undergoing training in order to provide safe gluten free options for guests. Often I choose a fully gluten free menu just because its the “healthy” option for my staff (read: the options aren’t all fried, full of carbs, and fatty desserts).

    My advice would be that if you choose to partake, let the bride know that you are gluten free, and ask for her caterer or event planner at the location the dinner will be at, and discuss it with them directly. Most hotels and restaurants that do weddings will offer you the chance to meet with the chef or inspect the facilities so that you can ask them questions and make an educated decision about eating with them (or not). You can ask them if they are NFCA certified, or GIG trained as a marker of excellence in providing gluten free catering. There was one NFCA certified hotel I went to a wedding at in downtown Chicago where my meal was better than the one being served the rest of the guests because I had called ahead about gluten free options ;-) And many of the corporate meetings I do folks get really jealous because instead of a dry sandwich

    Part of the fun of a wedding is the hospitality, and you don’t want the bride to be worrying that you’re starving in the corner. With a little preparation, you can partake with everyone else.

  21. Sonia says

    Be safe rather than sorry. Take a snack or eat beforehand. Caterers and restaurants are busy places…mistakes can happen. Any event with large numbers of people and time constraints increases the likelihood that cross contamination can occur. It is awkward or uncomfortable or even upsetting not to eat at such events but getting sick is far worse. The only way to guarantee you won ‘t get sick, is to bring your own food. I think each person has to do what’s right for them….eat at your own risk I guess.

  22. Angela Henson-Gosselin says

    Thank you for bringing up this question, Jay. It’s a really important one anytime, but especially since we are smack in the middle of wedding season.

    Everyone has offered such beautiful, wise suggestions, so I don’t have a lot to add. I will say, though, that once at a large anniversary celebration (large crowd, catered) there was a meal served with very few gluten-free options. I made my way through a salad. Then, there was a large, beautiful cake, which I knew I couldn’t eat. Well, that wasn’t a problem; I just wouldn’t eat it. However, my thoughtful brother-in-law knew about my gluten-free issues, and had brought me as a surprise, these big, yummy gluten-free, vegan cookies from Liz Lovely! Talk about a sweet guy! Well, I was in dessert heaven because they were sooo good. I’ve ordered other cookies from them since. It does the trick when there is uncertainty about the desserts to be served at a big gathering. Just a thought. If you don’t mind my putting in a plug for them, here is a link:
    http://lizlovely.com/

    I’m not kidding, these cookies are off-the-charts delicious!

  23. Katy D. says

    Call up the caterer and inquire yourself – never bug the bride. Eat beforehand, carry snacks and/or BYO dinner. I’ve done that for weddings, business lunches, family holiday potlucks, fundraising dinners, etc. Seriously, it’s not that big of a deal, just plan ahead. It’s your own health – so why does it matter what anyone else thinks? No one would question a person allergic to shellfish why they aren’t eating the shrimp cocktail appetizer…so…the same should go for Celiac, other food allergies, etc. Make your own health a priority, and it’s really no one else’s business NOR their responsibility. The only exception to this might be if you are a parent with a child not yet old enough to be responsible for what they are eating – in that case you have to do it all for them, too, just as you would for yourself.
    Weddings, family gatherings, parties – they are not about food (even though they may be *centered* around food – they are about people and relationships. We get that confused in our society quite often.

  24. says

    I have been to two weddings recently, one a sit down and one a buffet. For the sit down they specifically asked with the invitation if anyone had allergies so I put there that I was Celiac. At the reception I got a special meal. For the buffet I knew the family well and asked if I could be told ahead of time what I could eat. The bride actually sent me a menu with the items marked. When I got to the reception, they had actually put gluten-free labels on all the items. As for cross contamination that is my personal choice that I take the risk.

  25. Mary says

    I am severe celiac and also have a companion allergy to casein (protein in dairy). I have just recently been to 2 out of town weddings. It is a matter of fact for celiac people that travel/eating out are scary endeavors. Even the most well meaning, educated can still cross contaminate – the learning curve is steep and with no reliable/regulated food labeling – packing your own food is a must. I get the desire to break bread and eat with others, the desire not to be different or left out. But celiac is not fair and it does set apart. I think eating before and handling your own meals is a must – asking the caterer or adding any concern (no matter how politely) to the bride is unacceptable. The day is about the couple marrying not you. It is their wedding, they plan what they want and you attend (does not change even if it is close friend/sister..etc). Just my opinion

  26. Jimmie says

    I only recently discovered that I have Celiac Disease. Now that I have been off gluten for several months, I really notice when I get even a little bit. Going to a wedding would be a nightmare in the food department. Rather than bother the bride, who already has too much on her plate, I would bring my own and just not eat the meal. As someone else mentioned, I always have good snacks in my bag so would just discretely snack when necessary. The reason for going to a wedding is to honor the bride and groom – so I would not worry anyone about what I am going to eat! I would just have a marvelous time and not worry about the food.

  27. Becky says

    My daughter, who is celiac, just celebrated her graduation from high school at a big downtown hotel with 200 classmates and their families. Beautiful long gowns, big sit down dinner, dance, etc. She definitely did not want to get glutened and miss any of the night including the all-night after party!
    We packed fantastic gf food for her in a metal thermos and other containers and she carried it in a lovely big purse that matched her gown. No one cared at all and she was safe and happy. Food, then, was a small part of a terrific evening. The real key is to pack really good gf food for yourself so you don’t feel deprived! Don’t trust caterers or hotel staff because they have hundreds of people to feed and you are only one person. But don’t let yourself give up enjoying a great celebration because of food!! Control it yourself!

  28. Edie says

    Jay, eat at home before you go to the wedding, and/or carry something like a GF LARABAR in your pocket. Unless you were a part of the menu planning for the wedding (that probably started months ago), I wouldn’t trouble the bride with those kind of details at this late date. To protect yourself, don’t trust a caterer– people tend to give answers they think you want to hear, even if they have no idea of what you’re talking about. :)

  29. Sarah Morehouse says

    If I can, I inquire in advance about gluten-soy-dairy free options (and how gluten-soy-dairy free they actually are.) Usually I just end up scarfing down a Chipotle bowl right before the wedding or between the wedding and the reception. I stash a few Uber bars in my purse. I drink wine and maybe eat some of the fruit plate if it doesn’t look like cross contamination would be an issue.

    One wedding was awesome though. It was one of those package deals where the venue provides the catering. They were exceptionally good at keeping me in the loop and the catering manager brought me my specially and separately prepared steak with steamed veggies. It was bland, but hey, it didn’t hurt me! Best wedding ever. And at some kind of charity event that was catered very similar to a wedding, I had the same kind of experience. The key seems to be that the catering company has a reputation to uphold, and has a relatively stable, well-trained, well-treated staff who can follow through on the requirements of gluten free food prep.

  30. jamiemid says

    When my son got married, the bride’s Aunt was handling the caterers. She told them they needed to proved a gluten free option for me, and she also had it put in the contract they wrote. When it came time for dinner, I asked for my gluten free option and the manager himself told me no one requested it, so he didn’t have one! He and the Aunt and the bride got into it. Bottom line, I had nothing to eat. You can do everything right and human error will still screw things up. The caterer further ruined the evening by setting up the cake crooked, and it broke before anyone could cut it. He then proceeded to try and take the leftover food with him. You just have to hire someone you trust. If I had it to do over, I’d have packed myself something to eat just in case. As for the marriage, well when the cake broke the Aunt and I looked at each other and said that was a bad sign. The bride later ran off with my son’s best friend, but he still had a happy ending. Three years later he met Miss Right and another two years later they were married. She and her mom were in charge of everything. There was a gluten free option for me, and even a gluten free wedding cupcake! I would trust them, and the restaurants in Jersey are pretty good about GF, but I don’t trust anyone else. If I had to help prepare the food for a special occasion, I would wear gloves and a mask!

  31. says

    I think it is always a GOOD idea to ask about the food options you need. That is the way new ideas spread. You may be awakening new folks to the need for labeling food ingredients at events, or simply confirming what they are already thinking about.
    Personally I have food allergies and many avoids. I prefer ORGANIC and I like to think that by asking, I raise awareness. Our future looks better.

  32. devona says

    I’m Celiac, but WAY more restricted than just gluten. Given my extreme violent reactions to all grains, plus (sadly!) dairy, soy, and nightshades (I’m on the Autoimmune Paleo protocol and doing great), I just bring my own wherever I go (and I travel a lot for work) and just give my explanations to those who ask around me. I tried for a while to work with chefs, but always got sick. So, bringing my own, all over the country, is the only way for me to travel and stay healthy.

  33. Diane says

    Hi Jay! I’ll bet if you ever took a survey, you would find that most Celiacs carry huge purses everywhere they go. They are usually loaded with safe foods – and your products, of course!

    I never trust the food at a reception, party, or even family events. I’ll either bring my own or eat beforehand and sip on a beverage at the event. I especially don’t trust food lines or buffets, where the risk of cross-contamination is a real fear.

    It’s just not worth the embarrassment or pain of being glutened. A real friend or family member will completely understand – plus the pressure is off of them.

  34. Michele Saltman says

    After 41 years of gluten I ended up is ICU and lost half my blood. I am lucky to be alive. The irony about my diagnosis is that I’m not a complainer and never the one who needs final say on where I would go out to eat. I dont want to be a pain in the ass to the people I love, but my 7 year old who is coming home from seeing her dad for 3 weeks now has to eat gluten free with me, and knows it put me in the hospital. She has a tree nut allergy and BOY does she get it. And she knows I have been able to stop taking heavy duty meds. Her pediatrician told me Emma must eat gluten free while home with me, and she is being tested on Friday, which could protect her for life.

    Bottom line, I would ask if they have a gluten free option at the wedding. But after eating in restaurants and ordering gluten free options where there is no separate kitchen, and feeling crappy BC I think I got glutened, with my history and the way the smallest amount affects me I wouldn’t risk it. I am just learning about how devastating and silent the harm that gluten does to some who is sensitive. I am no longer allowed to have ANYTHING with gluten touching my body. I have a severe intolerance to gluten and both my neurologist and gastroenterologist told me it will “seep” into my body.

    If you can tolerate small amounts of gluten I would ask about a gluten free option, but I personally wouldn’t risk it. Days of feeling like crap aren’t worth it, I bet Andrea would say no way! I would eat before hand and just enjoy myself.
    As long as your smiling and having a good time who cares?

  35. Sherry says

    I just went through this. I talked to the bride beforehand to find out the menu. I decided to eat before the reception.

  36. Mette Baccari says

    It all depends on how well I know the bride/groom or other hosts of a big venue. I have previously called the hall/restaurants and made plans myself for my son and I (we both have celiac). Usually just asks for grilled chicken and salad or other meat being served at the dinner.
    We always eat something before we go to any big event. There is usually fruit, veggies, cheese and other things to pick on before the actual dinner, but we usually bring small bags of chips, or our new favorite, Snyder’s pretzel sticks.
    If my son (who is 11) is attending we will bring cookies or other dessert treat, if it’s “just” me I don’t really mind skipping the dessert and just enjoy a cup of tea.
    We live in New York City and MANY places here are really good about offering, and understanding, our gluten free situation.
    If we were traveling outside the tristate area, I would eat before, pick at the appetizers, bring my own “sides” and only eat plain meat and salad.

  37. says

    We just did our tasting with the chef yesterday for my daughter’s wedding. She and the groom want to have a totally Paleo wedding and it has been interesting to say the least. Our Chef is amazing though and uses only locally sourced organic ingredients and she even made my daughter’s paleo “tortiallas” that are more like a thicker crepe, so we are going to have a crepe station with Mexican style fillings. I have an organic farm and we raise grass fed and finished lamb and beef so we will supply the meats and some veggies and pastured eggs that we produce. i think it will be really incredible food that people will not forget. One appetizer is a plantain canape topped with chimichurri sauce and a slice of our chardonnay braised lamb sausage. I am just hoping the folks that don’t get the gluten free lifestyle will enjoy the food. They certainly won’t go home hungry and may not even realize it is gluten free. The cakes are coming from a GF bakery of course with vegan icing :)

  38. Krista says

    I went to a wedding not long ago and even though I picked what I thought was a “safe” choice, it wasn’t. The beef was grain fed and I ended up leaving early because I felt so sick.

  39. says

    I get asked to places a lot where I know it will not be GF – it is hard – I’ve been dubbed the “food snob” of the group. If I know the folks well, I may say something. Usually – like for all the graduation parties that just happened – I simply eat before I go, and then go and enjoy the company. Generally, there are at least veggie plates, so I’ll grab a few of those, some water and that does it. Traveling poses trouble….like last year driving back from CA through TX and OK – let’s face it, in the middle of nowhere, there aren’t a lot of choices….I bought a cooler before we left CA, went to the local market which is like a Whole Foods – and got GF bread and almond butter packets, organic bananas, sunflower seeds, GF crackers etc. Thank goodness I did! None of the 5 hotels we stayed at had anything GF for their breakfast – except the eggs. I ate the eggs and my own bread. I also make my own GF protein bars, and travel with almond milk and protein powder – just in case an entire meal has to be skipped! You get really creative sometimes! Martie

    • Jay Adam Harper says

      No lie about that! Being in Texas, we’ve driven across the “land of nothing” many times, and it’s really hard to eat out.

  40. Shelley Reel says

    i’m not just gluten free, which I found difficult to do and didn’t address my issues, but I am grain free and sugar free, much easier to do.. I usually ask for no sauces or gravies, just plain grilled meats and vegetables. I use butter to flavor and be sure it isn’t margarine. If it has sauce, I just leave it behind. No sense making a scene about the food, just don’t eat it. If you really feel you won’t be able to eat, take a baggie of something with you. I do this all the time. It’s the bride’s day, it’s not about your diet. No one looks askance when people leave food behind.

  41. Deb says

    Jay-Weddings are big which means a big gift. So if I am investing, I want to eat! If I know the bride is aware of such things, I will remind her that I need a gluten free meal. If I know the venue, I sometimes call them directly. Chefs know what a gf meal is even though others might not. So far, I have been safe!

  42. says

    When I’m invited to a wedding it is usually the wedding of a close friend or family member. In those instances, it is almost always the case that the bride or groom checks in with me about celiac and allergies and they have frequently put me in touch with the chef (this has been a HUGE kindness and has made it so that on occasion, once I’ve checked everything out, I’ve been able to eat at the wedding).

    Often I have to pass on the food portion of the evening and eat my homemade snack bars – this isn’t a bad thing at all – the point is that I get to be there to share the big day and my snacks are always delicious and I stay healthy (most importantly). When I have to pass on the food, this usually isn’t the fault of the people preparing the food but it can result from a lack of communication about cross contamination between the kitchen and the servers. I only eat when I’m sure I’ll be alright – the risk is not worth it.

    And when I’m invited to weddings of more distant friends and relatives, I simply pack snacks and forego the meal. If its appropriate I let them know not to pay for my plate but to provide me with a place to sit and if its a buffet, I just simply don’t mention it.

    My partner and I are getting married this fall and we’ve decided to have the food entirely gluten free and vegan (this covers the allergies we’re aware of in the crowd and our own). We’re also providing lots of whole food options and labels for every treat in the form of little recipe cards for people who like the deserts and for those who just want to know what to avoid. We’re also avoiding the top 12 allergens. We hope this will make it a fun evening where everyone feels included because food is such a huge part of being a community of friends and family. For Scott and I, that is essential. Friends who have thought about my situation with food while planning their weddings have just blown me away with their thoughtfulness, and I’d never expect that at such a big event, but I’m happy to be following in their footsteps.
    Thank you for the thoughtful post, Jay!
    Jen

    • Jay Adam Harper says

      I think this is something that wedding caterers (is that a word?) should really pay close attention to. It might be that only a handful are really on top of the ball about food allergies. Very thoughtful advice for anyone else reading, thanks Jen!

    • Mette Baccari says

      I love that you have chosen to make your own wedding gluten free/vegan with little labels. I have been to many venues, big and small, and any time food is labeled it makes for a stress free meal. Congratulations, and hope you have a wonderful day.

      • says

        Thanks, Mette! We felt that it would make it a really nice evening for everyone. And whenever anyone eats at our house they rarely notice the difference :D We’re so excited! And thanks for your congratulations and thoughtful comments!

  43. says

    I’ve been gluten, dairy and sugar free for years, and would NEVER eat anything that says it’s ‘gluten free’ and packaged, as processed and packaged foods almost always have gluten co-reactors included. there are over 100 names for gluten, and over 30 well known co-reactors, ie corn, coffee, chocolate, etc.. So, I usually eat the veggies and hope they have boiled or steamed shrimp on the cocktail table. Anything with a sauce almost alwys has a gluten based thickener added, and some sugar, but you can scrape that off, or even wipe it off with a napkin and try it. I usually eat ahead of time, though, or take a meal in a baggie, put it on my plate, and enjoy the event. No one is really noticing what others do, they’re too busy having a good time, and if they want to make a big deal about it, well, then there will be some great funny stories to tell later…LOL…

  44. Anonymous says

    Thank you, Jay, for writing this article! I just got a “save the date” for a wedding and I’m wondering how to go about it since it’s out of town. I have volunteered at charity dinners that lasted too long for me to eat a plate before I go so I packed a peanut butter sandwich and ate that and asked for just a plate of the vegetables when they were serving dinner. So I guess I’ll do the same for the wedding. I’ll pack some gluten-free bread and peanut butter…And Lara bars in my purse are a must now!…Thank you all for your tips…This is a challenge but it’s not impossible…

  45. says

    Casual family events are easy because I have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease for almost 10 years now. Formal events can get a little tricky. I usually opt for having a glass of iced tea or soda at my setting so I blend in a little better, but usually I have eaten prior to the event. I really admire the folks who have “taken the leap” and have arranged in advance to be able to bring their own food. Makes for a good day!

    Oh — and Jay — can we have Andrea’s recipe, please?

  46. Claudia says

    I have not been to a wedding in a long time, however, I did go to my 40th High School reunion. The only thing I could have was the vegetables. I didn’t feel like explaining myself to my former classmates. I did eat something before I went so I wouldn’t be that hungry. I did go to a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese. They had a GF pizza and it was served in a dedicated wrapper. The pizza was not much to crow about, but I was able to enjoy the party. My son also made me a GF cupcake to enjoy. Since we Celiac folk can’t “break bread” like we used to, I still enjoy having the companionship. I don’t trust food that I or my family has not prepared as they know that I can’t eat gluten. Even ones family does not understand sometimes. I did do something different for Mothers Day. I cooked the food. Everything was GF and actually everyone enjoyed the food. Food is the boogeyman for us. Its scarier than bungee jumping.

    • Jay Adam Harper says

      Aww Claudia. Always love to hear what you have to say. Andrea seems to now be in the habit of preparing and bring along food to just about any party we go to. Yesterday she made this chicken, artichoke, olives thing that was great. I’m going to force her to post the recipe here ’cause it was pretty amazing.

  47. says

    My niece’s reception immediately followed the wedding at a country club (they were married on the golf course). She knows I eat GF, so she spoke to the caterers beforehand who had chicken waiting for me without the sauce. I was told the salads in the buffet meal were GF, however, they had shredded cheese which I can’t eat dairy. I ended up eating the plain chicken breast, fruit, and the carved roast beef, and some steamed vegetables. And because I knew the wedding cake would not be GF, I brought my own GF brownie to eat while my table was enjoying their cake. I was pleased with my evening and would be brave enough to do it again.

    • Jay Adam Harper says

      What a great addition! So then we should add Dairy Free folks to the list too, and not forget the GF Brownies.
      Had you been asked, I bet you would have made a whole plate of them and had them out by the cake huh?

  48. says

    Usually there’s some time between the wedding and reception so I’d try to eat then and just bring along snacks/food for later. Mostly it’s better to just bring your own and the dinner is over soon enough and the dancing is all that matters then :)

  49. says

    I always bring my own food to the wedding, and have never had any problems. I ask the bride/groom or their family in advance. We bought nicer (yet disposable) white plates and bowls, so my food tends to fit in as well. I just empty glad containers, chip bags, etc. on to the disposable plates and then nobody really notices afterward! I think this works really well, especially if you attend a lot of longer wedding ceremonies, etc. that are away from home.

  50. Carla says

    I agree with you on all points. It just depends on the situation . Most of the time I just don’t go or a go to the church ceremony and skip the reception. I give a very nice gift, but I don’t eat food I don’t prepare myself or very sure there is no chance of cross contamination.

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