Thursday, June 3, 2010

Planning a Gluten-Free Wedding

It's been almost a year since our wedding. In honor of that special day, I wrote a piece on planning a gluten-free wedding for the Special Food Groups e-magazine. You'll also find it below.

Planning a Gluten-Free Wedding

As a lover of food and weddings, I enjoy receiving those little food cards that come in the mail with wedding invitations. The choices can let you in on the tastes of the couple: beef or chicken: traditional, pork or haddock: daring, pasta or vegetarian: alternative diet friendly. Well, maybe.

Four years ago I discovered my gluten intolerance and it has made replying to those cards a lot more complicated. Do I chose vegetarian and hope there are no breadcrumbs in my dish? Do I make a note on my card requesting a gluten-free dish and possibly confuse the couple? Or do I give up and bring my own food?

The answer was never easy. My responses have ranged from contacting the bride myself, to winging it and hoping something at the wedding was safe for me to eat.

I don't recommend either.

So, I vowed not to put my guests in that position for our wedding. A simple note was put in italics on our card: All food will be gluten-free. If you have a special food request, please make note on the bottom of this card.

It was simple really, and all of my guests happily ate what they requested. But, getting to that point took a lot of legword. We followed these steps to make our wedding gluten-free without a hitch:

Research, Research, Research

You will already be researching dresses, venues and bands, so make sure you take your time and pick out a caterer that knows proper protocol when cooking for those with food allergies and intolerances. Gluten-free message boards, wedding message boards and blogs are great for this. Review websites like Yelp and Chowhound are good resources too. Your local Celiac support group would help as well, I am sure. It's important to note that many venues require you to use "their" caterer. Speak with the caterer before you make a venue choice. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a caterer who thinks gluten is in potatoes.

Ask Lots of Questions

Don't be afraid to ask your caterer about the ingredients that go into each dish. For instance, Gorgonzola cheese was an ingredient in our beef dish and it can sometimes contain gluten. The chef was able to verify that the cheese they used was gluten free. When you ask your questions, be sure to stress how important it is to keep your allergen away from other food. And if your caterer offers one, do a tasting. This is a good way to spend time with the caterer and actually taste the food you will eat on your wedding day.

The Wedding Cake

This might be the scariest part of planning a gluten-free wedding: what to do for the cake. Luckily, I found a women who bakes only gluten-free specialty cakes, so that was an easy call for me. But I know finding someone that bakes gluten-free cakes in a dedicated gluten-free kitchen is difficult. If you have a family member that can bake, enlist her to help and stress the importance of keeping all sources of gluten away from the cake. There are great mixes out there and even one well-known gluten-free cake mix that has been used to wedding cakes. Or, if baking in a dedicated gluten-free facility is not a requirement for you, many independent bakers will take requests for specialty cakes. We had a small gluten-free cake for us, and cupcakes that were a gift from a family friend who was a baker, for the gluten-eating guests.

Hand Over the Reins

If you're a control freak, this can be difficult. But trust whoever is your day of coordinator and relax. If you did your research and communicated thoroughly with your caterer, all will be well.

And Lastly, Don't Forget to Eat!

This was advice given to my husband and I before our big day. You will feel obligated to spend time with each of your guests, but don't forget to eat. You put a lot of work into this day, be sure to enjoy it.

We sure did.