Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Gluten Free Wedding Reception - how maaavelous!

For most people, a wedding reception isn't that much to get excited about - and if you follow a special diet for health reasons, like I do, you're likely to assume you must eat before you arrive at the venue, so you don't starve when there's not one thing you can eat there. So when a gluten free friend of mine explained that most of the food at her upcoming swanky wedding reception at Swan Coach House, was going to be gluten free, I was thrilled for her. You see, my friend originally picked out her menu right before her Celiac diagnosis so everything had to reviewed and revamped to be gluten free. Luckily most everything on the first menu was easily modified to be safe for the Bride, and they would seemingly be wonderful tasty dishes!

My husband and I have grown to know the engaged couple quite well over the past year, and even though they are much younger than us, they are lovely, sincere, and very fun people whom we adore hanging out with. Therefore, we were honored to be invited to their wedding, which was mostly attended by family members and dear friends of many years. One of the guests had known the Bride since they were only four years old!

As the big day approached, I got a little obsessed and excited thinking about the fact that I'd actually get to enjoy the food at the wedding reception. To tell you the truth, when I ate gluten I don't ever remember eating any stellar food at any wedding - ever. No matter how fancy a wedding was, not one meal or dish stood out in my mind as memorable. Why then was I thinking about how great it would be to eat at this event? I'll try my best to explain it, in case some of you reading this are glutenoids (people who consume gluten).

When most people attend a company holiday party, a friends birthday or anniversary party or a wedding reception, they just eat whatever is being served - assuming they don't have any food allergies to worry about. When we attend such functions we have to employ all kinds of tricks and tips to insure we don't try and eat the white linen tablecloths that drape the lovely tables, or gnaw our own arms off in desperation. This is because in the US, gluten is in everything and on everything (the food I mean) and that's just a fact we have to accept and be prepared for, every time we leave our homes. You know that AMEX commercial 'never leave home without it?' - well, our saying is 'never leave home without food'. From pretzels, crackers and energy bars to dried fruit, nuts and salad dressing packets - if it's gluten free, shelf stable, and edible we try to keep it on hand at all times. We just never know when we'll be stuck out in public without anything safe to eat. Sure we can always find convenience store and grab a soda, candy bar and chips but that's really not a meal - or very healthy for that matter.

So actually, it is a very big deal to attend a function - any function - where I can actually eat and enjoy the food. I have been gluten free for over two years and have attended many events where my food options were surprisingly varied and delicious. But this past Saturday night I attended the best event of them all. Not only did I get to witness my friends exchange their vows and meet their wonderful families, I got to feel like every other guest at the reception following the beautiful service. I really don't miss gluten at all...OK - I guess I'd be psyched if Krispy Kreme brought out a gluten free doughnut...but I do on occasion miss being 'normal' when it comes to food. Not only do I sometimes feel like an alien invaded my body, but many times people treat me like they believe that as well. And that is the only bad part about having Celiac for me.

I wake up every day feeling incredibly blessed that I found out what was wrong with me, and that by eliminating gluten from my diet, I feel better than ever! I only wish that others out there who are still suffering, were as fortunate as me. For now, I'll have to settle on doing my part to drive Celiac diagnoses' in the US. With the current NIH plan addressing this issue, we're looking at another ten years of widespread suffering. We can't just sit around and wait for the government to do this for us.

Oh yea, I should probably tell you about the food at the wedding reception. It was so overwhelming that I forgot to take pix, even though I had permission from the wedding photographer to do so. There was a huge gorgeous Salmon with cucumbers decorating it like scales (darling), roasted seasonal vegetables, stuffed chicken with goat cheese and sun dried tomato, rosemary potatoes, spring mix salad with balsamic dressing, baked brie and another type of fantastic baked cheese, scrumptious fresh fruit and even a gluten free bread basket which included homemade banana nut bread. And all of this was gluten free and absolutely delicious! The chocolate sauce for the fruit could not be confirmed to be safe so we skipped it. There were gluten crackers and dinner rolls which were easy to avoid. There were three wedding cakes - the main wedding cake contained gluten, as did the Groom's cake (a precious GA Tech yellow jacket), but there was a miniature replica of the main cake that was gluten free and chocolate to boot! The Bride is a chocoholic so that was only fitting. The gluten free wedding cake was of course beautiful (just like the large cake was) but it was also very good - moist with a great 'real' texture to it and the butter cream frosting complimented it perfectly as well!

In the end, since I didn't have to worry even slightly about the food, we had a perfectly wonderful time at the party. I felt liked I'd actually moved to Europe or something. It was totally amazing to just go enjoy something like that - not stress about what's in this or that dish...driving the servers crazy with a zillion questions about gluten - or worse explaining to them what the word gluten even means...lol! This party will go down in my book as another 'gluten free event of a lifetime', right along with the Gluten Free Cooking Spree. Of course, the wedding reception was even better because we didn't eat out of tasting sized cups (lol!) and we even got to dance! By the way, the reception was full of glutenoids and you know what? They all loved the food as well. I'm sure many of them didn't know they were eating mostly gluten free...lol!


  1. I stumbled on this post doing a search for gluten free wedding cakes on the internet. I recently was diagnosed with Celiac disease, and I have been struggling to adapt to the gluten free lifestyle. One of the first things that occurred to me with the diagnosis was that my future wedding would be terrible because I wouldn't be able to eat anything! It's good to know that it's actually possible to get a delicious catered gluten free meal and wedding cake. I hope I'll be as lucky as your friend was and be able to find the same thing in Texas! (I'm not engaged yet, but I hope to be soon. =) )

  2. Sabrina - so glad to alleviate your fears about your own wedding. Early congrats to you! When looking for a caterer or event place for your reception I suggest to bring up your gluten free needs right way. If they know what you are talking about, you'll be fine. If you have to educate them from gluten free 'soups to nuts', you might want to look further for a venue that has done gluten free events before (if such places exists in your area).

    We have to attend a wedding in TX later this month and I've had to request a gluten free meal for two wedding events already. Each place is well versed in gluten free but I'm afraid I'm having two fairly boring meals. As long as they're truly safe I guess I'll be nice and not complain...lol!

  3. I'm having an upcoming wedding in May here in Atlanta as well and we have several celiacs attending so our plan was to make the Grooms cake gluten free. However we have yet to find someone that will make a decent cake. Can you find out the baker that this bride used?


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  5. She used www.mattycakes.com which is not a gluten free bakery but understood cc issues and can make gluten free cake. Also, there is a woman who just moved here and has a bakery in her home in Decatur - her sister has Celiac. I'll see if she can do wedding cakes, with the fancy decorating and post back here once I speak to her. I would not want to refer you to her if she can't help you. I know she is touted for making a killer gf red velvet cake but I've not tried it yet. I would recommend staying away from Metrotainment if at all possible. Their cakes are dry and they now only make two or three kinds of gf flavors but their best were coconut and carrot - niether flavor is available now. Bountiful Harvest in Chat. makes several fabulous gf cakes and will deliver to our Atlanta but the delivery charge probably makes the cost prohibitive.

  6. Thanks for the information! We are probably going to do grooms cake gluten free so it wouldn't need to be the regular wedding cake we would need her to make.

    I had read about the bakery in Chat. but hadn't called them yet to find out if and what the cost was to deliver to Atlanta.

    Thanks for the good info so far and if you can direct me to even another lead that would be awesome!

  7. Ok John - the woman in Decatur is Maria and she owns www.littleredhenbakeshopcom. She can create gluten free wedding / grooms cakes. Also, I'd forgotten about another wedding cake and flower company here - www.markfitchpatrickdesigns.com (google the term if this link doesn't work). He offers a ton of gluten free flavors and his work is not only tasty but spectacular looking! Last but not least there is a lady in Buckhead who made my b-day cake last summer...sorry I've forgotten her name but her website is www.saveroom4dessert.com and I had her coconut cake with cream cheese frosting which was fabulous. Even glutenoids enjoyed it ;)

    Please note NONE of these places has a dedicated gluten free facility but no such place exists in the Atlanta market just yet. Good luck!

  8. Just as a follow up - our wedding was 5.2.2009

    We used Little Red Hen for some personal cakes, but not for the wedding cake.

    We didn't care for the Mark Fitch guy.

    We ended up going with Perfect Wedding Cake in Marietta, Georgia. Her website is http://www.perfectweddingcake.com/

    Hopefully she still does it, but she did a great job making a gluten free georgia tech "buzz" cake and our regular non-GF bridal cake.

    Just another resource in case anyone else runs along this article! She does other cakes as well other than wedding cakes.

  9. Thanks for the info, John. Glad it all worked out and that GA Tech cakes sounds darling!


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