Blogger and Bride Erin Smith shares how she locked down a venue and menu that her whole wedding party could love
Asking for gluten-free dish when dining out with your honey is one thing, but imagine trying to create an entire wedding that is gluten-free!
Gluten-free blogger, consultant and celiac disease expert Erin Smith did just that this past spring. I interviewed her on how she pulled it off.
She began writing Gluten-Free Fun in 2007, to share her lifelong experiences of growing up with celiac disease. In 2011, Erin founded Gluten-Free Globetrotter, to encourage those with celiac disease to travel the world. When it came to her own wedding, she wasn’t about to let her dietary needs dampen her fun.
Sloane Miller: Erin, how did you decide to throw a completely gluten-free wedding?
Erin Smith: It was always my goal to have a gluten-free wedding: I wanted to be able to eat everything at my wedding. Even before I knew I was marrying Victor.
SM: At what point in your dating life did you have “The Talk” about having celiac disease and being gluten-free?
ES: Being an advocate in the celiac community is so much a part of who I am, and is now my full-time job, that it is hard to avoid telling others about what I do. The thing about Victor, unlike any man I’ve dated, is that I was so comfortable with him, and he’s so easy going and kind, that I told him about myself, my work and my gluten-free needs right away.
SM: How did you meet?
ES: We met June 2013 in New York City. We hit it off immediately. Our first date was 14 hours long. We just talked and talked, for hours and then we were both hungry. I told him I was gluten-free, assuming he would know what that meant but he had no idea but pretended that he did. He said ‘you choose the restaurant’. We went to Keste – an Italian pizza on Bleecker Street, which has a dedicated GF pizza oven, and it was delicious!
SM: Once you started planning your dream gluten-free wedding, what were your top priorities?
- I wanted to be able to be to pick up any food being passed and eat it.
- I wanted the food to taste good.
- I wanted it to be seamless for my guests. I wasn’t the only person with celiac disease at my wedding. I wanted it to be normal for everyone, and not like the bride gets a special dish.
SM: What online resources did you turn to?
ES: The usual ones: Theknot.com, WeddingWire. I went to some bridal shows, did a lot of online searches. And I started the conversation with venues as early as possible — the wedding was in April, we started talking to venues and caterers the September before. Also, when I found gluten-free resources, I shared them by putting reviews online for other celiac brides.
SM: How did find a venue that worked for your gluten-free needs?
ES: Before we met with any caterer, I emailed them ahead of time, explaining I have celiac disease and that the entire wedding needed to be all gluten-free.
Here’s Erin’s template email to caterers to explain her gluten-free needs:
“I have celiac disease and must eat gluten-free and a number of other food allergies and need to be extremely careful with the menu. Are you able to accommodate special dietary needs? All relevant information for having a wedding at your venue would be greatly appreciated!”
This very simple email could really tell me a lot based on how they responded.
If they said, “Sure, we can handle gluten-free,” I would respond: “I have celiac disease, this means I cannot tolerate wheat, rye, oats, or barley. This doesn’t just apply to ingredients in the dishes I eat, but the preparation stations, utensils, etc. Cross contact with any gluten could make me very sick.”
From there, we would usually wind up on the phone or the person would say, “Sorry, we can’t do this.” And I’d try another venue.
I did not find any venue that was 100 percent gluten-free in New York City. But the ones that could make a gluten-free menu for the tasting answered all my questions via email initially and I felt comfortable.
At the place we chose, My Moon in Brooklyn, they already had gluten-free items marked on the menu and a lot of their food was already naturally gluten-free — they have a Mediterranean menu — so it wasn’t too far of a leap to get a gluten-free wedding menu.
SM: Let’s talk cake. How did you find a gluten-free bakery that worked for you and was delicious?
ES: I knew from the beginning that I wanted my cake from By The Way Bakery – they were awesome. She did a great tasting for me.
The cake was so good that no one questioned it. It was awesome to be able to just eat cake. They made me a three-layer cake, each layer a different flavor combination: chocolate/raspberry, vanilla/lemon, vanilla/raspberry topped off with vanilla bean frosting.
Another reason I love By The Way Bakery is that they are transparent about their ingredients. They will give you a binder of their ingredients, the recipe of their products and any labels of their sub-ingredients, like what vanilla, salt, sugar, they use, they will tell you the brand and show you the label.
SM: Did you have a wedding planner help you with all of these details?
ES: My wedding coordinator is a baker at By the Way Bakery. She was at my cake tasting and when she mentioned she was a coordinator, we hired her immediately. She understood my gluten-free needs and she’s bilingual as well, and that really helped with my husband’s family, who are Spanish speakers.
SM: Sounds incredible! Anything you would do differently looking back?
ES: I would eat more at the wedding! The food was good and I really didn’t eat. We were just too busy. You read about that on the wedding boards but it’s true. I wished I ate more!
SM: Any final pro-tips for other gluten-free brides?
ES: Eat at a gluten-free restaurant for dinner the night before the wedding so as not to get glutened before your wedding!
Are you prepping for a big event? Start planning your own gluten-free meals on Cookbook Create!
Sloane Miller, MFA, MSW, LMSW, is a New York City based Psychotherapist and Specialist in Food Allergy Management. She encourages her clients to live well with food allergies, including creating delicious, safe-for-you meals. You can see what Sloane’s cooking right now on her Blog, Instagram and you can find her at Allergic Girl.com.