Gluten-free Living: Gluten-free Wedding Planning

This is another installment of the gluten-free living series - this week we are talking about wedding planning! Although this post is specifically about weddings, these tips are helpful for planning any large event. Enjoy!

I haven't talked much about my upcoming wedding here on the blog for a few reasons:
1.) There has been a lull in planning to-do items until this month
2.) I am the opposite of a bridezilla - I am super relaxed about the whole thing to the point where I really need to get on the ball now, as in yesterday.
3.) So far, planning has been fairly easy and fun!

An engagement picture taken by my maid of honor/most wonderful woman ever Cecily! She's amazing, obviously.

But since the wedding is nearly 3 short months away (!!!!) and planning has picked up, I figure now would be a good time to talk about planning a gluten-free wedding. Here are the top three challenges I have run into and how I have overcome them (thus far):

1. Wedding Cake: Literally the day after getting engaged, I looked at my fiance and said "I just realized....I can't eat wedding cake". My heart sank a little bit at the thought of this but my fiance assured me that we would find a gluten-free baker in our area and that I would indeed, have my cake and eat it too. This proved to be a bit of challenge initially - we had no idea where to begin! We asked the event coordinator at our venue about bakers in the area (we are getting married in a different city) and she gave us some names. I emailed one of my favorite "gluten-full" bakers from that list and asked her if she knew anyone who did gluten-free wedding cakes. She did and referred me to our current baker who is amazing and she makes insanely delicious cakes. My mom, stepdad, fiance, and I went for a tasting at her lovely home and were blown away by the quality of her goods - we literally could not stop eating cake! Even my stepdad, who loves his "gluten-full" treats, was craving more cake. Our cake is actually one of the things I am most excited about (besides, you know, actually getting married!); don't worry I will share pictures in October.

My top tip for finding a gluten-free baker for your wedding: Ask other "regular" bakers in the area - they know their community and often can refer you to quality bakers that you would have a difficult time finding yourself.

P.S. If you are getting married near Charlottesville, VA and need some gluten-free goodies I highly recommend Bake Love Bakery . Melinda is professional, creative, and bakes amazing treats! She really has been such a delight to work with.

2. Reception food: In case you haven't noticed, we like food. A lot. So it's no surprise that we want top-notch food at our wedding. Luckily, the venue that we are having our wedding at has a full time chef and kitchen staff in-house and they make really, really delicious food. After talking with the event coordinator and telling her about my gluten restriction, she made sure to take care of everything. The chef was also extremely nice and accommodating and made the majority of things gluten-free. Two of our three entree options are gluten free and the majority of our passed hors d'oeuvres, except for just a few, are gluten-free as well. Most importantly, the food is really amazing. I'm sure everyone is expecting a seriously food-centric wedding from us and we definitely don't want to disappoint!

My tip for an easy reception experience: I really, highly recommend finding a catering company or venue that has experience doing weddings for individuals with food restrictions. I think that our experience has been so great because the vineyard we are getting married at has extensive experience with gluten-free brides/grooms so it really is no big deal to them.

3. The rehearsal dinner: This has by far been the most challenging aspect of gluten-free wedding planning for a few reasons -

A.) The town we are getting married in is fairly small and basically has either upscale or casual restaurants - no real in between. Our wedding is pretty formal so we thought a casual rehearsal dinner site would be nice - we have found somewhere that we are thisclose to putting a deposit down on.  Hopefully it pans out! The place we really wanted to have the rehearsal dinner at has yet to call us back after 3 months and there was some resistance about the type of food (Spanish tapas) so we had to move to plan b.
B.) Pleasing, or trying to please, 50 people who all have dramatically different palates is never easy. Brad and I are very adventurous in our food choices and we realize some of our guests may not be  as adventurous. It has been a bit difficult to find a good a "normal food" (as our families call it) restaurant that can accommodate our big group and that people will enjoy.
C.) I refuse to just eat salad at my own rehearsal dinner. While pleasing our guests is my top priority, I really do want to be able to eat at my own rehearsal dinner. I realize that I probably won't eat hardly anything because I will be busy chatting up people and be a big ball of nerves, but it is more the principle of the thing.

My tip for choosing a rehearsal dinner space:
Compromise is the name of the game. Although the restaurant we really wanted didn't get back to us, we found somewhere else that everyone will enjoy. Honestly - I am not 100% thrilled with it since it isn't something I'm immediately drawn to but I would much rather have happy guests. Plus, it is going to be great no matter what because we will get to spend time our family and friends, many of whom are traveling a far distance to join us!

Planning a wedding is a daunting task no matter what but planning a gluten-free wedding can be extremely challenging. After overcoming my top three major challenges, here is my list of my ultimate top 3 tips for planning a gluten-free wedding:

1. Use your resources. Ask your venue's event coordinator, your planner (if you have one), and your vendors for recommendations - often vendors will recommend others that they have worked with in the past who have done a great job. Also, Google the hell out of absolutely everything.

2. Give yourself time: If you're like us and food is pretty much the top priority for your wedding, make sure to take care of this early! Finding things that are gluten-free and tasty can take longer than finding other regular vendors so allow yourself some time to select your perfect vendor. Plus, getting these things done early really does relieve a lot of anxiety and allows to focus on the details.

3. It's your wedding but don't forget to compromise: Ultimately, the wedding is about you and your partner getting hitched! It's fun and exciting but can be overwhelming if you have a larger group. You should try to ensure that your guests will be happy but most importantly, you and your partner need to be happy. Don't forget to compromise though! I was resistant to changing our rehearsal dinner venue for awhile but I realize now that honestly, it's just one meal, and the point of the day is to reunite with family and friends and celebrate! I will be happy no matter where we chose and seeing our guests happy will alleviate stress and put a smile on my face.

Most importantly - have fun with planning, drink lots of wine, and take a deep breath. What has been keeping me sane on this journey is focusing on my marriage. I'm marrying a seriously amazing guy and even if nearly everything goes wrong that day, it will still be one of the best days of our lives. Plus, I have the best group of bridesmaids that will feed me champagne and ensure I don't know about the twenty things going wrong ;)

This weekend is a crazy one, yet again but I am hoping to cross off a few "to-do" items for the wedding (including possibly buying shoes - yes!).  I will be back on Monday as usual!  Have a wonderful Friday and an awesome weekend everyone!