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Reception Dinner Etiquette
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I'm still at the 'pre-diagnosis stage so I feel unsure how to approach this upcoming wedding we are attending.

I have debated calling the bride and telling her not to order me a dinner because I'll bring my own food.

I have then felt she would likely try to accommodate me and I just don't trust wedding hall staff. There are too many variables and I wouldn't be talking with them myself.

So then I switch back to saying nothing and risking some odd moments at the reception.

And around it goes.

I find that not having a diagnosis yet but sure of the need for Gluten-Free eating is a bit awkward.

How have you handled situations like this? What seems appropriate? Also, I know about the need to eat gluten for testing, I wrote about my situation elsewhere so you don't need to cover. That here, lol, thanks if it occurred to mention it though!

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I would just go and bring my own food and not mention it to anyone. No one will notice what you are eating. I've done things like this several times.

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I say bring your own food to the wedding, and when the meal comes, a hungry guy will gladly eat it for you, in addition to his own meal :)

I am gluten intolerant, and my blood test came back negative, but I'm still feeling sick after four months eating gluten free. If you know gluten makes you sick, then eating gluten free to get well is just as important whether or not you test positive.

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I say bring your own food to the wedding, and when the meal comes, a hungry guy will gladly eat it for you, in addition to his own meal :).

Yup, this is exactly right! Haha I always bring my own and my guy friends count on it! Meaning they know they are going to get my dinner/cake everytime! Even at work when we celebrate birthdays two of my coworkers always try to see who is going to get "my" piece of cake haha works for me!

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I think we often over think these issues. No one really usually cares if you eat at a meal, eat a salad only, or bring your food. The less we make a deal of it, the less people will even notice. Just do what you think you should do on that day and enjoy.

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When they bring the meals just smile and ask for an extra plate then pour your own food out on it. Honestly, everyone is so busy scarfing up their own food that they don't pay attention to you. And if they do, just tell them you have a severe food allergy, smile, and continue with eating. Most people don't even pay attention. I learned that the hard way after sweating my way through many social situations. It will get easier. Honest.

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Last time I went to a wedding the bride was a close friend. She gave me the number of the caterer and it was easy to call and arrange a gluten-free plate at the reception. I skipped the cake. :)

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Ditto all of the others comments....no need to mention and there is always someone happy to eat my portion!

I did have one bride insist on ordering me a gluten free meal because she went thru the whole diagnosis learning curve with me -- but I still brought my own food -- just in case as I have had a some great experiences with caterers and some horrid ones - not worth the risk.

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Gluten is not an issue for me but I do have food intolerances, diabetes and other medical problems that are taken care of by diet. In a case like that I would just bring my own food. If anyone asked I would just say that I am on a special diet.

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We were recently at a wedding as a family and I brought dinner for both me and my younger son. I was worried about the awkward moment when the food was served, but it was no big deal. No one hardly noticed. I did make our meals match as much as possible.

I let the bride know in advance - saved them $300 by not having two additional plates served that were not needed.

I have the "MR. BENTO" food jar (amazon) and it is amazing. Compact and sleek, and it keeps food hot, hot, hot for hours.

Cara

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I don't agree with bringing in a meal. I wouldn't want someone bringing in a smelly sandwich or something and ruining the dining experience for others. I choose to inform them that we'll "make an appearance but don't order a meal for us" before hand. It is VERY expensive for these things! We eat before at home or the hotel or a safe restaurant before and show up later in the evening. I may bring cake for the kids to have if there will be some at the event but as it isn't necessary for cake, I don't bring my own.

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Banquet type facilities always do the best job of accomodating celiac! If I'm going to an event, I don't bother the host, bride, or whatever. I call the facility myself and tell them the event and what my needs are. Then when I arrive, I discreetly ask to speak to whoever is in charge and double check on my meal. I was a bridesmaid in my sister's wedding, got a great gluten free meal and my sister never heard one word about it. Then when the server of my table comes by I also check in about my gluten free meal.

I do bring back up food just in case something goes wrong. I have a pretty purse that's really a cooler in disguise. For men there are backpacks that are coolers.

My dad's funeral is Thursday and it's being held at the American Legion. That is one place I'm not comfortable with, so for that I'm bringing food for me and my celiac son. But otherwise, CALL them! They will be happy to take care of you.

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I agree that meals are expensive, and that you should tell the bride you have food allergies and cannot eat the meal provided. Tell her you would RATHER bring your own, that you are used to it, and that the meal is not the reason you will be attending anyway. You are attending to share the day with the happy couple, and that's what matters.

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Lots to consider.

This is an outdoor wedding with the reception at a legion hall a day's travel away. I simply will not call or trust them.

I also know for a fact that the plate cost is included in the hall rental fee. As in it is a set rate per guest. So they'll be paying x fee no matter what.

In this situation I am going to leave it at not calling but appreciate the added insights as they will help down the road.

As a formerly paid Chef, I will also ensure that I bring something other than a smelly sandwich to prevent turning other guest's stomachs :lol:;) and will do my best to keep my cupcake dessert more simple so as to avoid out-shining the wedding cake. B)

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As a formerly paid Chef, I will also ensure that I bring something other than a smelly sandwich to prevent turning other guest's stomachs :lol:;) and will do my best to keep my cupcake dessert more simple so as to avoid out-shining the wedding cake. B)

LOL! That smelly sandwich comment made me laugh. Who would bring a smelly sandwich anywhere?

If you don't trust them, then just bring your own food. Find some sort of carrying case that can be disguised and eat discreetly. I've done it plenty of times at potlucks where I didn't feel like risking it. People are busy with their own thing. They aren't paying that much attention. If you feel really weird eating your own food at the table, excuse yourself and eat somewhere else really quick.

I will often match what everyone else is eating and then just sneak mine onto a plate. Kids birthday parties for instance. If they serve pizza I will bring gluten free pizza and put it on a plate quietly. Nobody knows the difference and really they don't care. We had a scouts function where they brought in food from a teriyaki place. Nothing was gluten free or safe. I brought my own teriyaki chicken made with wheat free soy sauce. It looked so similar people didn't even know we were eating something different.

If you make something like a thick stew or chili (not smelly of course) you can keep it in a wide mouthed thermos. It will stay hot for hours and hours.

I would never eat at home and then starve at the event or come late to the event because I have celiac. No way would I miss out on the fun and I wouldn't do that to the bride. When someone invites you to a wedding it's rude to show up late and not attend the entire thing.

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I think we are lucky to be having gluten issues at this point in history. So many gluten free products now, but also it's become so prevalent, the majority of people are aware of it already. Or if not, they are aware of sensitivities/allergies more in general these days. Odds are, you won't be the only gluten intolerant at the wedding! Maybe you'll meet! Anyway, this is the age of becoming more tolerant in general of people's differences, which is really nice.

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Personally I would not bring my own food. I would just eat before I went, or after. If your trying to avoid an awkward situation then bringing your own food is not the way to go. You will certainly cause a bit of a stir by whipping out your lunchbox while everybody is sitting down to a nice dinner.

Also, depending on where the dinner is being held bringing in your own food may be a problem. Many restaurants and banquet facilities do not allow people to bring food or drink into a eatery due to possible contamination issues and liabilities.

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You will certainly cause a bit of a stir by whipping out your lunchbox while everybody is sitting down to a nice dinner.

Many restaurants and banquet facilities do not allow people to bring food or drink into a eatery due to possible contamination issues and liabilities.

Songbirdy, I don't think you'll run into problems, and it hasn't been my experience. One restaurant I went to offered to make me a gluten free version of the meal. It's all in how YOU handle it. If you act like you're doing something wrong, others will get the same idea. If you are relaxed and subtle about it, I doubt anyone will notice. If you get there and you feel uncomfortable, you can step out and eat your own food in private. No one has to know. If you want, you can say you're not hungry, and you have to step out to make a phone call. You will know what seems appropriate when you get there. Just enjoy yourself, and in case you end up needing it, BYOS (bring your own silverware). :)

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I would still call the hall and tell them to not prepare a plate for you, although I suppose if someone else at your table will want to eat it, then that's not a big deal.

I actually just went to a wedding reception myself, and I did eat the food there. I hadn't thought about checking when I accepted the invitation, (I dunno where my head was at), and I only thought about it a couple days before. It was rather late for me to decline food outright, they'd already paid for me, so I called the place up and apparently, the darling bride she is, overheard that I was a celiac (I realize I haven't told all my extended relatives yet) and had already made arrangements for me.

It was a buffet, and I knew from calling around for my wedding reception, that they should be able to accomodate me.

As it was, all the salads were fine, all the dressing was on the side, just plain chopped veggies. I ate a piece of salmon that they prepared for me just plain, not even any salt I'm pretty sure, so I think that was probably alright too. I suppose there was a potential for cross contamination on that from the grill or pan or whatever, but I'll never know.

I'm not sure what I'll do in the future.

My own wedding I'm going to have a nice sit down and see how gluten free they will actually make things.

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Songbirdy, I don't think you'll run into problems, and it hasn't been my experience. One restaurant I went to offered to make me a gluten free version of the meal. It's all in how YOU handle it. If you act like you're doing something wrong, others will get the same idea. If you are relaxed and subtle about it, I doubt anyone will notice. If you get there and you feel uncomfortable, you can step out and eat your own food in private. No one has to know. If you want, you can say you're not hungry, and you have to step out to make a phone call. You will know what seems appropriate when you get there. Just enjoy yourself, and in case you end up needing it, BYOS (bring your own silverware). :)

I really have to go with the asking for an extra plate. Most places just figure you are sharing with your dinner partner. When the plate comes I slip whatever it is out of my purse, slip it on the plate and it's a done deal. Once the food is mashed around your plate no one really notices anyway.

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I have tried not eating at events and bringing my own (in cases where accommodating my food requirements was not possible). I have found that people respond better when I have something to eat while they are dining. When I simply didn't eat, I had far more comments and questions....people "worried" I was hungry, why wasn't I eating, etc. on my last excursion, I had a nice, large purse type bag packed up with my food. I used some white bowls with clear lids that I picked up at Ikea, and they were quite discreet. I just pulled things out of my bag as needed, including my own utensils and napkin.

Good luck!

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I have found that people respond better when I have something to eat while they are dining. When I simply didn't eat, I had far more comments and questions....people "worried" I was hungry, why wasn't I eating, etc.

I agree, it looks and feels more natural and comfortable to be eating something along with everyone. I enjoy the experience more when I bring something I can enjoy eating along with the other guests. I do think that people tend to enjoy themselves more too if they feel like everyone is enjoying the activity, and might be concerned for you if you have nothing to eat.

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Is the reception plated or buffet? I had to attend a reception for my graduate program and my friends I sat with knew why I ate a huge plate of salad w/ no dressing and fresh cut fruit for dessert. It was buffet style, and even though they had baked salmon and some kind of green beans, I didn't take a chance. Discretion is certainly the key when bringing your own food, so as not to be "smelly" or a distraction or the topic of conversation.

I understand your stance Songbirdy, not wanting to call this time around. I think you did the right thing by considering all the factors (cost, out-shining, etc.) I have had pretty good luck calling ahead to places/caterers and it's just as helpful to know if they are NOT gluten-free so I KNOW I have to bring my own stuff. Of course, I always have a little something with me or I bring my "cake" (Udi's chocolate muffin). I have also started asking close family friends to just hang on to the label when they prepare things for gatherings, that way I get a chance to look at the ingredients, they feel "helpful" but they are not worried about preparing gluten-free food for me. It takes a little while b/f your family/friends/coworkers really understand that you really are not going to eat something unless you can confirm it is gluten-free, but soon enough they forget or don't notice you never drink beer or eat the crackers or bring your own (Hormel) roast beef! :P

On a side note, I also had good luck staying at a Residence Inn (I'm being serious, no Holiday Inn jokes here) where they have breakfast buffets and evening munchies. The staff was so helpful b/c I would just poke my head in the kitchen or catch them replenishing food and ask if I could peak at the food label. Seems most staff, caterers, chefs and the like are happy to oblige if you're friendly enough!

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