Since my Celiac Disease diagnosis, I have had the opportunity to attend numerous wedding receptions. While some wedding venues are quite experienced handling food allergies, others are unfortunately quite inexperienced. It’s important to not let your frustrations overshadow the real reason why you are attending the wedding reception – to celebrate the union of a wonderful couple. However, it can be quite disappointing when you leave the wedding reception hungry and in need of another dinner!
I am happy to share some tips I have picked up when attending wedding receptions for anyone with a food allergy:
- Indicate your food allergy when you RSVP for the wedding – this allows the couple to notify their wedding venue in advance. However, you can’t expect that the wedding couple will make this a priority when planning their wedding, so it is always useful to contact the wedding venue beforehand to find out how they handle your particular food allergy. This will give you an idea of what you can expect and allow you to adjust your expectations accordingly. For example, if you get the impression from your conversation with the venue that food allergies aren’t a high priority, you can eat beforehand and/or bring some snacks to get you through the night.
- Hors d’oeuvres can be one of the most challenging moments at a wedding reception as the staff handing out these delicious appetizers don’t normally know every single ingredient involved and therefore, aren’t equipped with the knowledge required to answer your food allergy questions. It’s best to eat a filling snack prior to attending the reception, as you may not get to enjoy any of these delicious hors d’oeuvres and dinner will likely not be served for at least an hour after the reception begins.
- Once seated, it’s important to find the head server who should be notified about your food allergy. Make sure he/she is aware of what is involved when serving your meal (i.e. cross contamination issues, hidden sources of gluten, etc.). This individual will be the one directing the other serving staff when serving your meal. Be prepared that your course may come out a few minutes after everyone else’s course is served as you might have a completely different course than the other guests. Also, be prepared to be dissapointed that your meal may not look or taste as good as the other guests – this is a reality that you just have to come to terms with.
- The deadly bread basket filled with delicious, warm bread normally comes out once all of the guests are seated at their tables and it could be more than 30 – 45 minutes before the first course is served. If you normally get angry when you see a bread basket, I would recommend bringing along some gluten free crackers to get you through until the first course.
- Dessert is another challenging time and you will likely be served fruit. Again, be prepared that this is the case and if you want, pack a bit of chocolate or something sweet to keep you happy!
I welcome anyone who has any other tips to comment on this post to share with the food allergy community. Being prepared for events like a wedding reception will allow you to enjoy your time with friends and family instead of worrying about what you are going to eat or leaving hungry.