Easy accommodations for your gluten-free guests

Guest post by Suzanne Akerman
im gluten free cupcake alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Hi, I'm a gluten-free cupcake! Photo by Megan Finley.

If you have guests on your list who are going gluten-free and you're confused about how to accommodate their needs, you're not alone. Increasingly, brides are dealing with gluten-intolerant or Celiac guests, whose special diets can be puzzling. The term “gluten-free” means food made without any wheat, wheat by-products, barley, rye, spelt, oats, and by-products or cross-contamination from any of those grains. This takes the traditional wedding cake off the table for these wedding-goers. While you may not want to design your whole cake around just a handful of guests, there are a few quick and easy ways to improve your gluten-free guests' experience.

First, consider the number of guests who will need an alternative to regular cake and the amount of effort you want to devote to providing other options. Many bakeries, specialty stores, and even regular grocery stores are carrying gluten-free baked goods these days, so assign a member of the wedding party to pick up a box of gluten-free cupcakes or muffins to display on the cake table.

You might be afraid a box of cupcakes will look out of place beside your gorgeous wedding cake, but never fear: gluten-free cupcakes can be just as gorgeous as your wedding cake. If you're concerned about the cupcakes matching the larger cake, buy the gluten-free cupcakes a day in advance and give them to your decorator, who can top them with icing that coordinates with the larger cake. A simpler solution is to take all of the photos first and add the gluten-free items on the side after all of the cutting and cake-in-your-face-smooshing is finished.

Homemade gluten-free baked goods can be just as tasty and look just as cute as store-bought ones, plus you'll save the cash by not paying a baker or decorator.

Another way to get gluten-free baked goods to the wedding table is to ask one of your gluten-free guests to provide some treats as their gift to you. Homemade gluten-free baked goods can be just as tasty and look just as cute as store-bought ones, plus you'll save the cash by not paying a baker or decorator.

If acquiring gluten-free baked goods seems like too much hassle, you can provide something sweet that just happens to also be gluten-free. For instance, set out special chocolate bars like the Endangered Species natural and organic chocolate or some common chocolate bars that are already gluten-free. (Snickers, Hershey bars, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, or Baby Ruth bars are just a few such sweets.)

Lastly, now that you've gone to the trouble of supplying your guests with something delicious, make sure they find it! Many people who avoid wheat won't even think to approach the dessert table, so let them know ahead of time that there will be something special provided. Then label your gluten-free desserts clearly; try a cute sign with wording like, “Goodies for Gluten-free Guests.” Your guests will be delighted that they can participate in every aspect of your celebration.

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Comments on Easy accommodations for your gluten-free guests

  1. Quick point: gluten-free isn’t as simple as avoiding wheat. There are other grains with high gluten content (like barley) that you have to avoid, and in the States, oats are often contaminated with gluten, because they share manufacturing equipment. For someone with a mild gluten intolerance (like me), that’s fine, but for someone with celiac’s disease, it means misery.
    That being said, it is easy as anything to make delicious gluten free baked goods. Rice flour is your friend.
    One more smallish point (I’m a gluten nerd): xanthan gum, a popular binder in non-gluten baking, can give some people awful awful stomachaches. You might want to check and make sure it’s okay, if you’re going storebought, or just avoid it altogether and use a starch (like corn or potato starch) instead.

    • Thank you for the clarification! I discovered that I have celiac disease 3 years ago and have learned to be very self sufficient when it comes to eating away from home. Trying to accommodate severe food allergies is tricky and it is important for those with special needs to be proactive in getting their needs met!

  2. If you do plan on giving the GF cupcakes to your cake decorator to finish, be aware that if they are in the baker’s kitchen or prep room, they are no longer 100% gluten free. Flour gets into the air, and believe me it gets into everything.
    Also, please be careful about those alternate starches. Sometimes corn and potato starch are not 100% pure. Even 1% can cause problems for people with celiac.
    Otherwise, kudos for for the article!

    • I had a friend with IBS who went gluten free, she said she noticed a huge difference, and that going gluten-free helped her a lot. Theres a lot of things that can be exacerbated by gluten, so thanks for pointing out about the corn and potato starches.

  3. THANK YOU!!! I wish I could send this to all the brides of the weddings I’m going to this summer! I feel so awkward asking them about whether I’ll be able to eat at their wedding. But the bigger issue is dinner… dessert I can do without, but going from 2pm to 2am without knowing if I’ll be able to eat anything they offer is tricky planning. (I usually end up in the bathroom sneaking g-f bars from my purse.)

    And yes gluten is in more than wheat and wheat by-products. Plus 50% of those allergic to gluten are allergic to dairy or eggs, so vegan/gluten-free desserts are the way to go. I threw two vegan/gluten-free receptions last year.. it’s possible!

    Thanks again Offbeat Bride for bringing this up. Feels good to know I’m not alone!

    • Don’t feel awkward asking! I think people far prefer a note with your RSVP saying, “BTW, I have a special dietary consideration.” My sister recently went on a vacation with a gluten free girl who NEVER let anyone know of her diet until her food arrived, and then she’d send it all back.

      Better to get out there and say it than not. πŸ™‚

      • Yes, I’m gluten intolerant and find that people are really understanding if you tell them you have a food allergy. If you tell them you’re avoiding bread they’ll try to stick it in anyway (which I can work around but is annoying). It’s starting to get enough press to where people are more and more accepting that this is an issue for a lot of people.

    • I agree with Lilac.

      My cousin sent a note along with her RSVP to say that her daughter had recently been diagnosed with a peanut allergy and I didn’t mind at all. In fact I was glad she’d told us. The last thing anyone wants at their wedding is a guest having to skip dinner food, or worse getting ill.

    • I would have felt so much better if I’d known about my friends allergies in advance. I’d made sure there was something vegetarian on the menu, but I had several people who weren’t able to eat at all because I wasn’t aware of their allergies until after we’d given the caterer our menu choices. I felt awful about it! So please, send a note with the RSVP or something if you don’t think it’ll occur to who ever is doing the planning!
      Also, for after the wedding, all that information can be tossed into a spreadsheet for feeding people the rest of the time.

      • As a guest with food allergies, I utterly and truly hate it when brides attempt to accommodate for me without me asking because my experience in the catering industry has shown me that often times individuals working for these companies will lie, or not fully understand how to accommodate for food allergies and still not prepare a safe meal. This creates for an extremely awkward and sometimes horrific situation for guests.

        The one incident that really and truly stands out in my mind was when I was yelled at and berated at a black tie wedding reception by the Maitre d at Gleaneagles country club in Dallas (this is one of the fanciest country clubs in the area) because I attempted to politely decline food. It was one of the most horrific experiences in the 9 years I have been diagnosed with celiac disease, being insulted and told I was an idiot for not eating the food they had specially prepared for me when I had no clue if they even knew what gluten-free was much less how to prepare it. If I had not been such a good friend of the bride, I would have gotten up and screamed at the man in front of all of the guests I was so humiliated.

        Moral of the story: If guests do not tell you they have food allergies/intolerances, it might be for a reason. Please do not be pushy as a host. Often times it is less stressful and alienating to just sneak in your own. I know I’ve literally brought in my own meals at several weddings and my own beer just so that I know I will be safe.

        • Maybe try approaching brides/grooms and letting them know they need to consult, or that you’ll bring your own? It’s sad to think you’d have to truly and utterly hate the actions of someone with such good intentions.

        • Agreed! I have a mild peanut allergy and a slightly-less mild pea allergy. I would never want anyone to go out of their way just because I have an allergy. It might be different if I went into shock by eating something manufactured with peanuts, but I don’t. I just turn down the pea soup or peanut butter frosted cake, and I don’t mind at all! (Thankfully, I haven’t had any experiences like yours, SB!)

          • I don’t get this. I as a host do not want my guests to have an allergic shock, nor do I want them to go hungry. I’d prefer if people tell me that they have allergies so we can work something out together.

  4. Thank you SOOO much for this post! All the comments so far are spot on. This is a very serious disease and for some people, more than just an allergy.

  5. My partner’s sister has Celiac Disease, and two other guests at our wedding were gluten-sensitive. (We also had number of other allergies and food preferences to accommodate – no nuts, no fish, vegan, no dairy, no soy, etc). Cake was the easiest thing to figure out. We ordered a gluten free vegan chocolate ganache tart in addition to our other cakes (we had 12 “regular” cakes and no traditional wedding cake). The tart accommodated our vegan/gluten-free/non-dairy guests and was a favorite of the omnivores, too. The meal was a little more difficult. Despite having planned ahead and requested a specific gluten-free meal, the kitchen was slow in getting it out and our wedding coordinator friend had to chase the chef down to get something as delicious as the other food. In all, though, our guests really appreciated having their food needs met, and we were happy to care for our loved ones in that way. We would have made sure to have appropriate food if they visited our home; we wanted out wedding to be the same way.

    • Also, we made sure the tart was clearly marked, had it’s own utensils, and we have people watching to make sure guests didn’t contaminate it. And my GF sister in law ate first.

  6. Yay! I’m going to be a gluten-free bride, and that is going to be tricky, but thank you so much for posting this! It’s good to get the word out there, and since ~1 in 130 people have some kind of gluten issue, it’s a big deal!

    • As another gluten-free bride, I thought I’d mention that we were able to make our whole meal gluten free – we just chose rice/quinoa/potatoes as starches rather than something gluten-y, and picked our other courses the same way. We are still deciding about a gluten-free dessert – we’ll probably end up with a panna cotta, or something similar.

      • We have a Celiac guest and a couple wheat and/or dairy allergy guests. Our caterer has made the menu mostly gluten and dairy free (honestly it wasn’t that difficult and the food tastes amaaaazing), that way they can easily make the “allergy” meals as simple modifications of the regular menu. They are very on top of it (I think it depends a lot on the company, when I worked at a Ben and Jerry’s, they were very serious about peanut allergies, but not all food service places are like that).

        I was at a wedding recently where the mom of one family that has a bunch of allergies among them let everyone know ahead of time how they wouldn’t be able to eat anything at the reception and they would have to starve etc but when they mentioned to the servers that they had certain allergies, they got special meals made up in no time! Not saying that people haven’t had bad experiences, but a good catering company should be able to handle this without a problem!

    • I will be a gluten free bride and I have no problem doing the whole wedding gluten free. Family often try to trick us into eating gluten (not sure why they don’t believe us!). Gluten free food does taste good. It is one day out of their lives – we live with this every day. Besides, they won’t know the difference. (hehe!!)

  7. As a scientist who specializes in gluten-free baking and product production, I also highly recommend that you do not give your decorator gluten-free products to make them look similar to others. I know someone who did this for her wedding (she was the gluten intolerant individual who needed gluten-free) and she ended up in the hospital on her wedding night. Also, as others have mentioned, gluten-free is not just wheat-free. I have no idea where you guys got the idea that this was the case (honestly, it’s a bit offensive as a celiac to hear this because it’s such a major inaccuracy) and buying a “wheat free” product could cause some of your guests to become violently ill.

    Currently there are no gluten-free labeling laws in the United States, thus buying from bakeries that have “gluten-free options” but are not strictly gluten-free could also be dangerous to your guests as well. It takes on average 3-5 days for the flour in the air of commercial bakeries to settle out for it to be safe to produce products for celiacs to consume thus it’s really not a good idea to try it.

    There is quite a bit more to providing safe options for gluten-free guests (including meal options) than what is discussed here that might be useful to brides who are planning gluten-free weddings or planning to feed gluten-free guests. I just hope readers realize this.

  8. My baby sister is Gluten intolerant, and some of her friends who were at our wedding were HIGHLY reactive to Gluten. What worked for us was keeping all the gluten free pre-packaged and sealed in an area in the kitchen, so instead of going through the buffet, they could request their meals directly and not have to worry about the cross contamination.

  9. Oooh– and for those peeps making their own desserts, I like this brownie turned into cupcake tins..like mini flourless chocolate cakes. Coincidentally, I just finished making a batch! It involves almond flour, so if you’re allergic to nuts also, it’s out. . My version’s a little different, but it’s a pretty basic almond chocolate recipe to play with πŸ˜‰ Mmmm, high 5 to chocolate! http://www.bobsredmill.com/blog/2009/04/13/brownies-made-with-almond-meal-flour/

  10. We had a semi-gluten free wedding. I was the only one there with a sensitivity and was obviously really involved in the planning so it worked out really well for us since I already got to go through the line first, the kitchen made the whole dinner gluten free (minus cross contamination issues, which tend to not bug me) and I knew that the chocolate cupcakes were all gluten free and decorated first. I will admit that I was swollen by the end of the night, but my sensitivities are also closely related to my stress levels so I had been swollen for days.

  11. Absolutely ecstatic to see an article on Offbeat Bride addressing this issue! Definitely make sure that whoever is preparing and / or serving gluten-free items is aware of the importance of using dedicated cookware, utensils, etc, to prevent any instances of cross-contamination (if the entire meal isn’t GF, that is). I am gluten-intolerant and would like to emphasize again that people who are gluten sensitive / intolerant can have JUST as severe reactions to gluten as do those with celiac; it can take me days to recover from a glutening episode.

    As noted by previous posters, many with gluten issues can also have (other) food allergies, so be sure to ask your guest(s) about that as well. It is incredibly touching and appreciated when those needs are actually respected and taken seriously!

  12. It is great that more people are aware of the need to accommodate people with gluten issues. For someone who has issues with gluten a catered event like a wedding is a land-mind. Which is why I have to chime in with another “wheat-free is not enough” reminder, just to help drive the point home.

    I think the best advice here is to ask a gluten-free friend to bring something that is suitable for the dessert table (or another table all together reserved for GF food).

    Some people seemed surprised I would go out of my way to make sure there was a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free option at my wedding. As the bride I had so many things to do, why should I cater to the needs of a few “picky eaters” in the bunch? Because the people who most benefited from my having an alternative dessert were all family and close friends so I was very aware of their needs. And who likes going to an event and having to turn down the dessert?

    My solution was a pear-apple crumble with nuts as the main topping (the one allergy I could not accommodate was nuts, but no one at the wedding had this issue that I knew of). I had another friend make it, no where near the cake or other baked goods. I did test out the recipe myself beforehand to come up with something that was tasty and easy to make.

    I knew it was worth all the effort when a guest who’s father was one of the friends that was enjoying the fruit crumble walked up to me and thanked me for having a dessert her father could eat. His family had been at a loss for what to do for him on his last birthday and here he did not have to miss out on dessert. Meanwhile, both my diabetic in-laws, and my gluten intolerant aunt, as well as any of my other friends who could not eat the wedding cake for various reason, we also not left out.

  13. I was a GF bride with a GF family marrying into a high-carb and very gluteny in-law family.

    As a GF guest, I honestly prefer to bring my own food. I know what’s in it, people can’t mess with it, and I won’t get sick. My MIL had a reception at a local restaurant (where we know the owners), and even though they swore up and down it was GF, I was still sick. People will make GF bread in their regular bread maker (making it NOT GF), or dust the pan with wheat flour, or add soy sauce to a dressing or dish. Crumbs from the cake, or a mixed up buffet spoon/serving spatula or bread at the table can contaminate cupcakes or buffets.

    And as most other people said, WHEAT free does not mean GLUTEN free. Barley, rye, malt, even oats (for a select special bunch of us celiacs) will trigger a reaction. And it only takes a crumb to trigger a celiac reaction (ask me how I know). AND I have other life threatening allergies to worry about as well.

    So as a guest, I ask the bride/groom if it’s ok that I bring my own meal. It’s not that their food won’t be good, but I’d rather play it safe than sorry. And I’ve had a couple of people get offended, but then I just didn’t go. And if I talk to a caterer and they can’t tell me exactly what is in every dish, then I eat before I go to the wedding and keep some snacks in the car. That goes for not only weddings but parties as well.

  14. Thanks for bringing this to people’s attention! My mother-in-law has coeliac disease and also happens to be Norwegian so at our wedding she made us TWO amazing kransekake which are traditional Norwegian celebration cakes. They are so, so tasty and look super impressive and are relatively easy to make once you have the right tools and are totally gluten free!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/39486842@N07/4781284524/in/photostream

  15. I am a GF Bride and luckily my family is very supportive. In Australia things are much easier then they seem to be in the US, we have really strict guidelines about when a company can declare something GF. I have found through experience that GF baking is not always the most successful experience and that packet mixes are the best way to get a good result. The best cake mixes here to buy are Woolworths Macros brand, Mum made one of their mudcakes as a trial for our top cutting cake and it was excellent. Thanks for running this guys!

  16. I am so glad to see some gluten-free guest tips here! I am actually Celiac myself, and dealing with the opposite issue. I have one guest who has called and messaged me to get her point across that she doesn’t feel that gluten-eating guests should be forced to eat “that stuff”, and that I should have a separate small plate made for myself, as well as a separate cake. Call me crazy, but I’m going to eat whatever I want on my wedding day.
    It is really great to see more sites and individuals who not only recognize gluten intolerance, but give tips and alternatives so that everyone else doesn’t have to spend their best day fretting over whether their best friend can eat anything. Kudos on this one!

    • I agree you should absolutely be able to eat what you want and serve what you want on your wedding day. It will be awhile before I have to deal with this myself but if someone has a problem eating gluten free I think I would have to take them off the guest list.

      • I kindly reminded her that it is my wedding, and that I didn’t inconvenience her on her big day. She seems to have cooled it a bit.
        The other problem I had was being turned down by two venues because they have contracts with catering companies that will not/cannot do gluten-free. Instead of excepting me, the venues felt it best to maintain professional relations with their caterers and decline my wedding.

    • I’ve had family get on my case because I want my wedding to be dairy free ( I have a fairly bad allergy.) I feel like I spend enough time trying to be unobtrusive and inoffensive by bringing my own food or not eating at others’ parties that I think this should be the one situation where I’m comfortable. I agree with you completely. I still have those family members that are like “Ewwww, I don’t want to eat that stuff” as if allegen-free food is some new species entirely.

  17. As a guest with celiac disease, I would not feel comfortable eating anything at a non-gf wedding, no matter the extra special care that was taken to prepare it. Mistakes can be made, but for me those mistakes mean spending the rest of the evening feeling miserable. Much like other gluten free people, I would much rather eat before or bring my own food and be able to enjoy everyone’s company.

  18. Could you PLEASE edit your definition of gluten free within the article text? It is NOT completely accurate and understanding how to cater to gluten free guests is NOT simple, as many of these other comments have illustrated. I’m very worried that brides with gluten free guests will see this article and not read the comments, which could result in many sick wedding guests. πŸ™ Please please please do this, for the sake of all us celiacs–we have it hard enough already!

  19. Gluten-free here, too! Its OK to opt for other sweet things that are naturally gluten-free, like a beautiful fresh fruit bowl or fruit in creme. I also agree that if you’re cake designer doesn’t have a gluten-free kitchen area, that he/she should NOT be making any GF goodies.

    What about a chocolate dipped fruit tree? Plump strawberries, grapes, melons, etc skewered to a cone shaped base? You could add fresh mint leaves and make it very, very pretty.

  20. First off wheat free is NOT gluten-free. No if’s and’s or buts about i! You could make someone seriously sick that way!!

    As for taking gluten-free items to a regular bakery to decorate them: I can’t even walk past a bakery without getting a headache, theres enough ‘free floating’ wheat in there to make anyone who has Celiac Disease VERY sick!

    There are plenty of other totally safe options if you aren’t willing to be safe about the cake! But PRE-WRAPPED gluten-free muffins or cake (or cookies) and put them on a separate table if you must, or fruits and veggies (they ARE naturally gluten-free)
    Just some things to think about…..

  21. As a gluten-free bride I was so happy when my groom came up with the perfect solution for our cake question: we’re going to have a small-round gluten free cake (make by a friend and trusted gluten free baker) for me (and him if he wants to kiss me) and my dad (who is also gluten-free). That will be the top layer, and below will be all sorts of gluten-filled cupcakes on teirs below our gluten-free cake.

    Because gluten-free flours are so expensive we couldn’t afford gluten-free for more than just a small cake, and I think it will help keep confusion at bay knowing that the cake is o.k. for me and cupcakes are for everyone else.

    Our dinner buffet will be gluten-free except for the vegetarian option which will be pasta – I’m a meat-eater and so is my dad, otherwise we would find some alternative option for that.

  22. Love this – but I have to say, if you’re going to have a ‘free from’ option, go all out and make it an option for (almost) everyone! I’m gluten free + vegan, and most vegetarian or gluten free options don’t cut it – for desserts and entrees, it would so amazing if the new standard was to address at least the most prevalent allergies and dietary restrictions – gluten free, dairy free, egg free, peanut free, soy free, and vegan! Hopefully not taste free, haha! πŸ™‚

  23. I have Celiac and attending weddings is one of my worst nightmares, especially family weddings. When friends or acquaintances get married, it’s easy to come to the wedding, but let them know on the RSVP that I cannot make the reception. I’m extremely sensitive to gluten, and I’d rather not make it to the reception than be sick at a friend’s special event.

    But family weddings are much harder. The best advice I can give is that if you are going to ask a caterer at any event to prepare separate gluten-free food for friends, family, or other guests, it can give peace of mind to the person involved if they speak directly to the caterer. You shouldn’t have to act as the middleman for your special event when your friend needs something outside your normal scope of knowledge, and as a Celiac guest I always feel awful when I have to bombard my host or hostess with questions, and plague their caterer with more of the same. I have to do it, because I have to protect myself, but it always makes me feel like a socially awkward stick in the mud. It’s not ideal for the host, guest, or staff!

    Even then, it’s important to make sure that the catering staff knows, not just the chef. At a family wedding last year, my mother (also Celiac) and I both became horribly ill because the need for gluten-free meals wasn’t communicated to the servers, just to the head chef. Our meals were fine, but they were never served to us. They went to different tables. It turned a happy occasion into a miserable one where we had to sneak out. I was even berated at length by the server at my table for not wanting a piece of cake to be set at my place at the table!

    I also have to reiterate a previous comment: PLEASE make sure that if you are still having “regular” food, and you are trying to accommodate a guest’s allergies, that their food is not just separate, but is sealed. Even a tiny amount of any allergen can cause an allergic reaction. Ambulances make for unhappy reception memories!

    I’ve found that hosts and hostesses almost always want to help me, and that’s wonderful! It helps me to feel more included instead of having to skip someone else’s big day. I would strongly recommend asking guests if they would like you/your wedding planner/whomever to deal with their allergy, or if they would prefer to be put in touch with the caterer. I always contact the bride/groom and ask if they mind if I speak to their caterer before I RSVP to the reception, and explain why. It may not be the best thing to do in terms of etiquette, but it is in terms of health. Hope this helps someone else!

  24. Quick tip is to put on the invites to advise dietary requirements, but if someone does respond to this, ask them what their preference is. There are such a lot of varieties of allergies and intolerances, and there’s no point in spending a lot of money (gf food is more expensive usually) for no one to eat.

    I go to a lot of conferences and can’t stand the gf bread that is often used to make sandwiches. While there’s a lot of substitute goods out there, often providing something that isn’t a ‘pretend’ wheat product is better than risking getting it wrong. For example base a meal on potato or rice, or do a chocolate mousse, or cheesecake (they don’t have to eat the base). Cheese & rice crackers are another after dinner option.

    And ask for suggestions for either brands of biscuits etc. if you are heading down that road. There’s a pile of bricks on the market, and a rare few really good products in my opinion!

    This way you also avoid the risk of getting something that people with multiple allergies can’t eat (one friend has wheat, soy and tomato allergies :/).

  25. I have tons of friends with allergies and dietary restrictions (I have a mild milk allergy myself), and plan to put a space right on the RSVP cards for guests to list dietary restrictions, and a check box asking if I can contact them for advice and/or help in choosing/preparing food for them.

  26. I’m really happy about this article! My mother and sister are both gluten-free, so I’ve been living in a no-wheat zone for awhile. I had already been planning on doing a cupcake platter instead of a traditional wedding cake, but my mother wasn’t loving the idea. Hopefully when she sees how we can incorporate gluten-free cupcakes into the platter, she’ll be more receptive!

  27. Why not add a gluten-free layer to the cake? The way cakes are stacked, you really wouldn’t have to worrt about cross contaminationand you wouldn’t have to have a separate plate of cupcakes.

    • I know you mean well with this suggestion, but in actuality this is a *REALLY* dangerous idea and would heavily contaminate the gluten-free layer. Just adding the gluten-free layer on the cake itself would contaminate it because the icing from the wheat-based layers would contaminate it, much less all the issues later during the cutting. It’s just an absolute minefield. I know a few people who were guilted by family into doing this (against suggestions from friends and experts they knew), and they ended up pretty horribly sick at their weddings. Also I’m going to repeat again just as a PSA to help prevent any disasters – You really shouldn’t send your cake to a traditional decorator unless you are the only cake they’re working on in their shop at the time, they’ve completely cleaned out & decontaminated ALL of their equipment that will touch or be near your cake, opened fresh bags of all of their ingredients, and double checked whether or not their ingredients are gluten-free. I’ve seen gluten contamination be a common problem in gumpastes, as well as fondant so it is extremely important to double check by calling the company not just ready the label (Wilton’s stuff is notorious for being cross contaminated….). If you want a pro to decorate your cake the best idea is to suggest they come into a gluten-free bakery (if you are buying your cake from one) and work on it there, it’s just plain safer. All of the bakeries I know of in my area allow and welcome this, it’s just a matter of working with your decorator.

      • I very much agree, not wise to try to intermix a gluten-free layer in a regular cake. Same with cupcakes on the same platter, honestly, unless they were individually wrapped and labeled. Even so, I personally wouldn’t even try it unless the cupcakes were on a completely separate platter. My cake will actually be a normal one (because gluten free cake is sooo expensive!), and I will personally be making “our” portion of the cake in my 100% gluten free kitchen. I have Celiac, so if my hubby wants a kiss after that cake he will eat the gluten free one too. We have one other guest who needs gluten free, and we will share our small cake with her. Also, a post above mentions having a cheesecake, and “they don’t have to eat the base.” As well-meaning as it may be, please, please, please, do not do that! Anyone with a gluten sensitivity will get sick “eating around” gluten like that.

  28. Ooooo we came up with a fun solution for our geek wedding – we’re making the “bachelor cake” gluten free (although the same flavor) – we’re doing the cake from portal. πŸ™‚

  29. I know that other folks have touched on this, but be careful about store-bought gf baked goods. Please (please, please!) don’t leave that to the last minute. Often, packaged gf baked treats taste awful and have the texture of sand. Taste test a bunch of different things, look up recipes, and connect with local gf community in your area to get ideas about things that aren’t just gf compliant, but taste awesome, too. I’m a gf/v baker, and my partner can’t have gluten. The whole reason I got started in baking is that so much (like, almost all of it) pre-made gf stuff just tastes like utter ass.
    Make the effort and look around! Your guests will thank you.

  30. Sorry if this has already been said, but I haven’t read all the posts.

    If you are planning on providing for guests with allergies/intolerances, please make sure you understand the condition and requirements and make them very clear to your caterers. At our wedding we had a few vegans, someone with a pine-nut allergy, one celiac and a few others with a gluten intolerance. Despite our knowledge of the various conditions and designing a buffet menu to provide suitable options for everyone, the caterers were useless and I’m pretty sure a few people went hungry, which I feel awful about. We went up first for our food and out of the four quiches we had tasted and ordered none of them were there, ingredients had been changed, none of them were dairy or gluten free anymore and all the waitress could tell me was that they were vegetarian – thanks for the help!

    It’s the one bug-bear I have from our wedding. We opted for a buffet to make it easy for everyone as myself and many in my family have dietary issues and others are picky or just don’t eat a lot. I wanted it to be a simple and stress-free meal for everyone, I just wish I had explained the importance of sticking exactly the the agreed menu and ingredients.

    Also, as I’m sure others have said, most people who are GF or have another allergy/intolerance and quite used to bringing food with them. They will likely prefer to do so, to ensure they last the evening and don’t go home with stomach ache or anything otherwise.

  31. I’m happy to see that this post is up (aside from its inaccuracies)!

    I want to reiterate one thing for people who don’t know much about Celiac… It is NOT the same as being Gluten-intollerant!!! Not even a bit! Celiac is an auto-immune disorder (not an allergy), that means that our immune systems attack gluten and thus destroy the lining of our intestines. (not a fun feeling, let me tell you!) This reaction can be triggered by the tiniest particle of gluten on a pan, fork, or in the air.
    It makes us very paranoid and twitchy around food!

    I’m a bride with Celiac, and I’m having a totally GF/Dairy free wedding reception. I’m so excited to be able to eat ANYTHING at a buffet! πŸ™‚

    FInding a venue was a bit challenging because I couldn’t pick one that had a locked-in caterer.
    The caterer we ended-up going with is bringing all of the kitchen equipment to the venue and setting-up a GF kitchen. And they’ve been sooo awesome and accommodating, I love them!

    One other challenge to the whole wedding thing is the other meals that I’ll have to share with family while they’re in town. I know of *one* restaurant with an entirely GF menu, so we’re going there for dinner one night. Our reception dinner is being catered, and for that I just decided to bring my own food for simplicities sake.

    When it comes to going to someone’s wedding, I would just bring my own food.

  32. The only thing that had gluten in it at my wedding was the beer, i have celiac, and it was the first and only day in my whole life where I didn’t have to question anything because I knew everything was safe and the caterers were 100% onboard and knew about contamination etc, although also having all of the food GF meant there was very little chance of that. It was so nice to feel normal for a day! it was wonderful! And because the condition runs in families, it was good for more than just me.

    As for attending other people’s weddings – it is so great when it goes well, I really am so touched when someone makes the effort even just for 1 person out of their guests who needs something different. Mostly I think it is the caterers who should deal with it a bit better, because they have big weddings groups all the time so there will be a few celiacs every time so you’d think they’d get a grip on it! Issues I have encountered include – very dry food, no gravy when everyone else gets gravy (1 portion of GF gravy is not that hard to make!), getting fed at lunchtime but not in the evening at all (very hungry and in a strange town…not so good!), and the perennial Fruit Salad for dessert. I don’t want to sound ungrateful but I don’t think fruit is a dessert, its more of a chore!! Also I’ve never had cake at someone else’s wedding, I think it is a very lovely idea to make cupcakes available, but you do need to be careful with cross contamination (I would never ask a normal baker to decorate them! They don’t understand the issues!!!! at all!! Plus crumbs everywhere…maybe just have them handed out to those individuals). Also, buffets are always an issue due to the same thing, even if some items are GF, people will be spreading the evil gluten (sorry, its a celiac thing :P) just by using utensils, touching things, dropping crumbs, so safest to have plates made up for GF guests in advance. Our motto is “if in doubt, leave it out”, so if a celiac guest declines something or asks a question about it, that is just what we need to do to stay safe, we’re not being fussy, and sometimes i just decline food rather than question because it seems a hassle to ask questions plus it is embarrassing, so don’t be offended if a food is declined.

  33. My grandmother has celiac disease, so gluten-free food is something I have been around for my whole life. My fiance and I have decided to go with cupcakes instead of the tradition cake so I have been considering purchasing a few gluten-free cupcakes so she can enjoy them alongside everyone else!

    We are also going to have a chocolate fountain with plenty of delicious goodies to dip in it, so I’m sure she won’t have a problem finding some dessert to nosh on!

  34. Just wondering if anyone has had problems when asking for dietary requirements? I’m aware we have a few guests with allergies, intolerances, medical conditions and religious restrictions, so on the RSVP I asked if there’s anything special they need. The problem is the fussy eaters have asked for special things just out of taste rather than a genuine need. What’s the most diplomatic way to say, sorry we’d like our chef to only have to deal with the medical/religious issues to avoid mistakes, and basically point out that it’s a set menu rather than everyone’s favourite dish. I know it’s impossible to keep everyone happy, but I don’t want to offend them either :-/

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