In this article, I will share my top tips from my own wedding as a diagnosed coeliac and a specialist digestive health dietitian.
1 in 100 people have coeliac disease, the condition has a genetic link and so you will find it runs in families (1). There are then even more people with a gluten intolerance, so the likelihood is that you will have several ‘gluten free’ guests.
Organising wedding catering can be overwhelming but do not forget to ensure that your gluten free guests can also enjoy your big day without concern.
Yes, this is a thing! If you are having edible invites then please do not leave your gluten free guests out. Trust me, when you are gluten free, having someone take the extra step to ensure you can enjoy every aspect of an event is extremely appreciated.
If you are providing sweets/chocolate as part of your invite, then do not presume they are gluten free. Always check the label and by EU law, all allergens will be written in bold in the ingredients list. You are looking for Wheat, Barley or Rye.
You may also note, that there may be terms like: ‘may contain traces of gluten’, ‘made on a line handling wheat’ or ‘made in factory also handling wheat’ (2). These terms mean that, that product is not suitable for someone on a gluten free diet.
If in doubt, contact the manufacturer or Coeliac UK who will be able to advise you further.
As with the edible invites, favours need to be considered for their gluten content. On our wedding we had the traditional sugared almonds.
Now, sugared almonds are gluten free in a sense that gluten is not a deliberate ingredient. But, when we were shopping around for the almonds, a lot of manufacturers stated: made in factory also handling wheat. This meant that we could not use their products.
Choosing The Menu
When it comes to wedding menus, you need to work alongside the head chef – not the event coordinator! Remember, this is not a Sunday pub lunch where you only have a few gluten free options – you are probably spending £1000’s so 99% of the meals should be adaptable.
No, your gluten free guests do not a want melon starter, meat with no gravy, salad, lemon posset, fruit cocktail or meringue! Us gluten free people want bread, a big roast dinner lathered in gravy and chocolate cake to finish on!
As wedding venues employ trained chefs, adjusting the menu is a very simple task and will not cost any more money at all. So, choose exactly what you want and just ask for it be adjusted.
Collecting Menu Choices
Make sure that you include an area for guests to write down any dietary requirements when they send their meal choices back to you. I actually asked my guests to email their choices and needs back to me to avoid any confusion over handwriting (plus it means you aren’t losing bits of paper).
To make sure this is then well communicated to the catering staff, I would highly suggest you start a table which can then be saved and sent over. Below is an example of the table I used to send my guests food choices.
|Name||Starter (option 1*)||Starter (option 2*)||Main Course (option 1*)||Main Course (option 2*)||Desert (option 1*)||Desert (option 2*)||Dietary Requirement|
*insert your own menu choices
Yes, most people completely forget this bit! After your service, guests will generally be offered a glass of sparkling wine/ tea / coffee and shortbread – lovely. Unless you are gluten free. Again, just mention this to your catering team who can easily provide a suitable alternative (again no fruit sticks needed please!).
While it is fine to go ahead and get an idea for the wedding cake design you would like, just don’t set your heart on the exact flavours until you have spoken to your baker.
Not all types of cake are suitable to be made gluten free and your baker can advise you on this. For instance, my absolute favourite cake is chocolate Guinness cake. Obviously Guinness contains gluten and there is no suitable gluten-free alternative for this.
Instead, we had white chocolate and raspberry gluten free cake (not too much of a loss!) and then normal cakes – chocolate Guinness cake and fruit cake.
During your meeting with your baker, you will be able to taste gluten free cakes and what you will realise is that they really taste no different. Therefore, you will not be left over with lots of gluten free cake, because all you guests can enjoy it.
Consider cross-contamination. You need to talk to your baker to ensure they are aware that not only does the cake have to be gluten free but also that there can be no risk of contaminating it by using the same butter or even an unwashed cake bowl.
When you look at our cake here, you may be wondering how on earth we avoided cross-contamination as the cakes are all sitting on top of each other? Well, here is the secret. Because this cake could actually probably feed 250 + people and we only had 120 guests, the cake isn’t actually real!
Instead, we had a dummy cake made with real icing, which can be cut into for photos. Our real cake was all out the back in seperate trays. This also gives you a solution to being left with a lot of fruit cake – as most people these days do not like it and to make a real cake like this, the base layer (the largest bit) would have to be made all fruit cake.
This ‘fake cake’ worked so well that my father was actually running around at the end of the night panicking because he found our entire wedding cake in one of the store rooms!
If you are catering for gluten free guests then a buffet is a really bad idea due to cross-contamination (other guests will use the same spoons between dishes). The only way around this would be to contact your gluten free guests separately and ask them what they would like so that you can have the catering set aside a dish for them in the kitchen.
To avoid any of this, we opted for a hog roast. The hog is obviously gluten free and then we had separate gluten free baps which were buttered in the kitchen to avoid cross-contamination.
Tell Your Gluten Free Guests!
If you are gluten free, then you are used to having very few options or having to take risks with your diet. So your guests will just presume they can not eat the food rather than coming to ask you.
So that your efforts do not go to waste, type up an email/ text/ Facebook message outlining what you have done to ensure your wedding is gluten free and send it to your gluten free guests.
The Bottom Line
Taking these extra measures to make your guests feel comfortable will never be forgotten! By doing this you are ensuring that all your guests can have a stress free and fully enjoyable day.
For extra information on wedding consultation services, please contact me.