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GFLindsey

How To Handle Being A gluten-free Wedding Guest

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I have 7 weddings in 2010 to attend. (Just hit the age where every friend, roommate, cousin, and co-worker is getting married!) Some of the weddings are buffet-style and some are traditional sit-down meals with several courses. I don't want to make a big deal out of my restrictions -- I am perfectly happy eating beforehand and bringing my own snacks along. However, I really wouldn't want anyone to waste money on a 5 course meal for me when I can't eat anything that is prepared. Of course, I would also love it if their chefs or caterers were able to provide me with a gluten-free option.

So how have you handled weddings in the past? Advice for both buffet-style and sit-down dinners would be wonderful!


Lindsey, age 23 *gluten free, caffeine free*

1.21.10 - Negative celiac panel

2.5.10 - DX with Celiac disease after positive biopsy.

2.17.10 - Tested positive for DQ2 and DQ8

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I've only had to attend 2 big family dinners (one wedding, one funeral) since going gluten-free (Aug 09).

The wedding invitiation RSVP card included your entree selection so I chose the beef, thinking it was less likely to have sauce or stuffing. I was lucky in that this was the case. The vegetable served with it appeared to be OK and I just didn't eat the mashed potatoes.

The funeral was a buffet. Again I chose plain meat and vegetables. Despite that I had a very mild reaction (reactivation of itchiness of my rash) so there must have been some cross contamination. (I also suspect that as time has gone by I am either more sensitive to sources of CC, or just more aware of my body's reactions).

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I tell the guests that I won't be eating any of the food (they are using the rsvp cards to get a headcount for food anyway) and eat before and bring my own food.


Tiffany aka "Have I Mentioned Chocolate Lately?"

Inconclusive Blood Tests, Positive Dietary Results, No Endoscopy

G.F. - September 2003; C.F. - July 2004

Hiker, Yoga Teacher, Engineer, Painter, Be-er of Me

Bellevue, WA

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I guess the one thing you can do is find out what is on the menu for each so that you have an idea of whether or not you are going to eat that meal. For a buffet you can mention to your friend (if you are close enough) that you are gluten free and if it is possible that at least one dish be oriented that way and you can give her/him suggestions as to what that dish could be. This way you'll have that and most likely there probably will be something else on the table that will be ok.

I went gluten free in the middle of December 2009. My folks held a party for my nephew in the beginning of February and when we arrived, there wasn't one thing they had that I could eat. I actually went to the store and picked up some sushi and a bag of Kettle chips.

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I would talk to the bride or groom, whichever one you know, and offer to speak to the venue yourself so they don't have an added job to do and so you can make sure the place understands what you need. Weddings can be long affairs and it might be hard not to eat there.


Lots of doctors diagnosed me with lots of things including IBS, lactose intolerance, wheat intolerance, and quite a few of them threw up their hands in total confusion.

Had GI symptoms, allergy symptoms and unexplained illness my whole life.

Jan. 2010 Diagnosed celiac at the age of 40.

Ready to get well and get on with my life!

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Hi Lindsey

Here's my take on your question. If you are close enough to the bride & groom I would just ask who will be catering the dinner buffet or sit-down. Then I would contact the catering service & ask what is being served. The bride & groom may also tell you....I would explain why you are asking. I know I ate before I went to a wedding & just had a coffee. Oddly enough the servers asked about why I wasn't eating anything & I explained why & they said oh No you should have called us we make gluten-free exchanges all the time..... they were very aware of gluten-free.....they even said they bring dessert gluten-free......

Many times tossed salad, ham, cheese cubes , olives & such are on a table so you could also take your own crackers & enjoy that......

Another option is to go after the dinner is served or most are almost finished then you don't have to explain anything except that you are late!

I have a wedding coming up for a neighbor soon. The family knows I can't eat many things so they chose some things that I could have so I wasn't going to be hungry. Ie: tossed salad, fruit tray, veggie tray, grilled chicken for me instead of stuffed chicken breast, red skinned potatoes for all, green beans almondine, beef brisket without gravy....

hth

mamaw

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I am a pastor, so although I have only been gluten-free since 1/25, I have already had to navigate my way through several public dinners and special events. What I am finding so far is that people have been very gracious when I ask something like, "I have to be on a gluten-free, lactose-free diet. Is this something you can help me with, or should I arrange to bring food that I will be able to eat?" Caterers in particular are often well-educated in this and have been very accommodating.

I have also found a couple of friends in the church who are gluten-free, so when we are at the same events, we help each other. That's helpful too!

Hope this helps.

Brian

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I always call the place where the reception is being held and ask for a gluten-free meal. Nicer places can usually make you a meal. I don't want the bride and groom to have to worry about contacting the place - I know they're busy dealing with other things. I also ask if the cost of the meal will increase, and I would pay that increase. I've never had that happen but you never know. The one wedding I went to that was buffet-style I brought my own food. I did talk to the caterer, and there was no way they were going to be able to make me a separate meal.


Gluten-Free since September 15, 2005.

Peanut-Free since July 2006.

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I would either tell the bride & groom, or ask them for the caterer's contact info and arrange my meal myself.

There's no reason to go hungry. Caterers are more than savvy with food safety and preparation, and if they're any good, should probably know more about gluten free than the average gastroenterologist :P

Honestly, I used to do the planning for a lot of large business/social events, and *always* made and option for people to make note of special dietary requirements. And once at the venue, I always made sure they were taken care off properly and that nothing got messed up.

I had a lot off food allergies as a kid, and I have sereral friends who are vegetarians, or diabetic, and even a few halal Muslim co-workers, and Kosher Jewish co-workers, so believe me, an experienced caterer is more than well enough prepared for varied menus! Don't be afraid to make it known that you're gluten free!

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Thank you all for the responses.

I think I will end up asking the couples for their venue and/or caterer information so I can follow up before the event. I would be so happy if they were able to provide me a gluten-free meal. The thought alone makes me determined to try!

All of your input is much appreciated!


Lindsey, age 23 *gluten free, caffeine free*

1.21.10 - Negative celiac panel

2.5.10 - DX with Celiac disease after positive biopsy.

2.17.10 - Tested positive for DQ2 and DQ8

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Thank you all for the responses.

I think I will end up asking the couples for their venue and/or caterer information so I can follow up before the event. I would be so happy if they were able to provide me a gluten-free meal. The thought alone makes me determined to try!

All of your input is much appreciated!

Hey Lindsey,

I have actually worked for a caterer, in the office, in the kitchen, and as a server. Most reputable, nice caterers know exactly what you mean when you say you need a gluten-free meal. Almost every party I have worked, I hear something like, "Okay, we've got 80 regular meals, 8 kids' meals, 2 vegetarian, and 1 gluten-free." And they know where those people are sitting.

I light of this, I think that what brianw said above is the best advice. For a buffet, come armed with sustinance for yourself, and see what you can safely eat from the buffet (often fresh fruit and steamed veggies). But for the sit-down ones, there's nothing wrong with writing on your RSVP card something along the lines of what brianw said.

Caterers don't want to get sued :P So they tend to be good about gluten-free meals.


~H.C.

diagnosed microscopic colitis; neg. celiac blood test '02

gene test and Enterolabs test, "diagnosed" with celiac by Naturopath dr. '07

gluten-free and a-bunch-of-other-stuff-free '07-'08

no symptom change. off gluten-free diet '08

diagnosed celiac from prior test results by medical dr. '10

gluten-freedom for life! '10

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Hey Lindsey,

I have actually worked for a caterer, in the office, in the kitchen, and as a server. Most reputable, nice caterers know exactly what you mean when you say you need a gluten-free meal. Almost every party I have worked, I hear something like, "Okay, we've got 80 regular meals, 8 kids' meals, 2 vegetarian, and 1 gluten-free." And they know where those people are sitting.

I light of this, I think that what brianw said above is the best advice. For a buffet, come armed with sustinance for yourself, and see what you can safely eat from the buffet (often fresh fruit and steamed veggies). But for the sit-down ones, there's nothing wrong with writing on your RSVP card something along the lines of what brianw said.

Caterers don't want to get sued :P So they tend to be good about gluten-free meals.

Thanks! I am so happy to get advice from an industry professional. I don't have any experience with food preparation and service and really just don't want to overstep my boundaries or set my expectations too high. I am going to follow your and Brian's advice. I will let you all know how it works out!


Lindsey, age 23 *gluten free, caffeine free*

1.21.10 - Negative celiac panel

2.5.10 - DX with Celiac disease after positive biopsy.

2.17.10 - Tested positive for DQ2 and DQ8

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My husband and I have had a catering business and one of the things we ask the client is - "are there any vegetarians or food allergies?" We have had a few of each in our 10 yrs of this. We also had a restaurant and delt with food allergies and a very good customer has celiac so we catered to her. Now having what I call a "wheat allergy" since the doctor said my blood test was false/positive, I have no problem telling people that I can't have certain things to eat. PLEASE DON'T BE AFRAID OF SAYING ANYTHING. THIS IS YOUR LIFE AND YOU HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!!!!! See it as a way that we have to educate others and also don't be afraid to carry snacks with you. My office is full of fruit cups and rice cracker. Hang in there and be strong.

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You sound like me last year!! A lot of the weddings, my friends knew about my situation and they came to me about what I could or couldn't eat. In some cases, if I was familiar with the caterer or venue, I wouldn't eat and tell them to not worry about it but I found that in most cases, the caterer and the bride/groom were completely willing to work with me. Chances are, if you're invited to their wedding...they care enough about you to make sure you have something to eat. If you're a guest of someone at a wedding...I typically, politely, told them not to get something for me and hid food in my car :)

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If you choose to contact the venue or caterer, be prepared to make a reminder phone call. One the day of the event for the venue kitchen or a day ahead for the caterer. As soon as you get there, introduce yourself to the waitstaff and let them know where you are sitting.

I handle this myself without involving the event co-ordinator or bride and groom. They honestly have too many things on their mind to add the stress. If you speak directly to the food staff you can make choices for yourself if offered (beef, chicken, or fish) You shouldn't have to take a risk with a food buffet either.

Always bring your own food stash - just in case.

Remember professionals know people have food restrictions.


Michigan

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