The complete guide to navigating the wedding season gluten-free

Well, it’s that time of year again in Northern California. Some might consider it Spring, but the real deal is its wedding season! Chances are you might have already received some invitations, but you might find it tricky to find a gluten-free path through the celebrations. 

So before you began sweating the details of how you will maintain your gluten-free diet, try to remember the bride and groom already have a lot on their plates. After all, most weddings have between 100-200 guests and a percentage of those guests will require special accommodations. Unless you are closely related, this is not likely to be on the top of their list, right?

 Still, you might be in for a surprise. Many of our couples blew us away with their thoughtfulness and how they made sure they had all the guests’ needs covered. I remember one wedding in particular where on the guests were shocked by the bride and groom ordering in a custom gluten-free meal all the way from San Francisco.

Or… call ahead and talk to the chef

Why not go right to the source and not burden the bride and groom? Shoot for at least two weeks ahead for best results. Tell the chef which wedding you are attending and spill the beans about your gluten intolerance and/or celiac disease. At worst, the chef will say doesn’t have the experience; you next get to educate the chef. For example, can the chef make a meal with no sauces or breading for you in a separate pan? If the chef confirms he/she can do just that, you can assume the wait staff will be informed appropriately. Just be sure to mention your conversation with the chef when you place your order. 

Why not eat beforehand?

Sure, you say - but snacks can only satisfy for so long - and more so if you have had a few well-deserved cocktails. Play it safe and eat a high fiber/high protein meal to keep your hunger at bay for the event. 

Sneak a snack or two… or three…

Why not cover all your bases by bringing in your own food? It’s not like it hasn’t been done before - it’s actually quite common in Northern California venues. After all, the typical wedding buffet is mostly off limits, right? Just pack your food and keep it in the car until the buffet line forms. 

Still, bringing a sandwich or any other food into a wedding can be challenging. The good news? There are alternatives, and one of my favorites is a product called GoPicnic. They specialize in gluten-free meal boxes with yummy stuff like chips and hummus and trail mix. Just take the goodies out of the box and keep them in your purse - no one will ever notice.

Don’t put off planning until the day of the wedding.

Plan ahead, and you won’t desperately rummage around a convenience store on your way to the wedding. 

Accept your plate and offer others your food.

If you forgot to call the chef ahead of time, or if you just felt uncomfortable doing so, offering your food to others at your table is a great option. Just get away from your plate - head to the dance floor or restroom and join others in conversation. No one will notice you didn’t eat your food because they are too busy enjoying the day. 

Still, you might feel bad about your meal being paid for by the bride and groom. I could tell you life is too short to sweat it, but the truth is the venue manager would likely require them to pay for your food even if it was clear you wouldn’t be eating it. 

I sincerely hope these tips will help you feel more comfortable at your next wedding! You can adapt these tips to most social events and eliminate the fear of getting sick. 

Lura Albee