How to Be a Gluten-Free Wedding Guest
Wedding season is fast-approaching. Gluten-free options are becoming more readily available at weddings, but it may be helpful to follow these tips if you are extremely sensitive to gluten contamination.
Before the Wedding
When you RSVP to the wedding, it is a good idea to ask the bride and/or groom for contact information for the restaurant or caterer they have selected for their wedding. If you do not personally know the bride or groom, you may feel more comfortable having your significant other contact them to get contact information for the restaurant or caterer in charge of the event.
I highly recommend personally contacting the restaurant or caterer for several reasons: 1) you don’t feel like a burden asking the bride and groom to do any other tasks for their wedding, 2) you can properly explain your gluten-free needs to the appropriate person and get any of your questions answered, 3) you can establish a point person to connect with at the wedding, and 4) you can assess the restaurant or caterer’s knowledge of gluten-free food preparation.
If you are traveling to the wedding and staying in a hotel, I also recommend contacting the hotel in advance to request information about gluten-free accommodations available at the hotel. Specific things to ask about are breakfast and/or room service options and contact information for restaurants in or near the hotel that are gluten-free-friendly. You can also request a mini fridge for the hotel room (at no charge) for “medical reasons.”
If you are invited to the rehearsal dinner and/or other food-centered wedding events, it may be helpful to contact these locations as well. Most of these events have pre-selected meals, so be prepared to bring a food bag or pay an additional fee for a gluten-free option à la carte.
In some cases, you may have contacted the restaurant, caterer, and/or hotel several weeks or months in advance. Make sure contact your point person one more time right before the wedding to remind them about your gluten-free requests.
Always make sure to pre-eat and/or pack a food bag so that you are never in a situation where you have to choose between being hungry and being sick. If you’re driving to the event, you can stash food in a cooler in your car.
During the Wedding
Connect with your point person right away to introduce yourself and review your gluten-free requests. If the food service is buffet-style, it may be helpful to ask the caterer or restaurant to set aside a plate for you to minimize risk of gluten contamination. If the food will be served at your table, make sure to provide your table number and always double-check that the food you are being served is the gluten-free option. If you are concerned about any aspect of the dish, it is okay not to eat it.
Never assume that you will have something safe to eat at the wedding. Even if you’ve planned every detail in advance, mistakes can always happen. Even if the food ends up being a disaster, you can still enjoy the wedding. Focus on socializing with the other guests and keep any discussion of your gluten-free status light, even if other guests make insensitive or awkward comments about living gluten-free.
After the Wedding
Make sure to formally thank anyone who went out of their way to help accommodate your gluten-free needs. A handwritten note to the bride and groom and/or an email to the restaurant or caterer thanking them for their efforts are small ways to show your generosity, but they may make a huge difference for the next person who needs gluten-free accommodations.