Last month we celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary.
My husband went waaaaaay above and beyond and planned a weekend getaway to Green Lake, WI — we stayed at the most beautiful place, Angel Inn Bed & Breakfast. (I’ll be writing more on that soon.)
Seems like just yesterday we were walking down the aisle.
When I look back now, I remember the day being absolutely perfect. (despite some day of stress that we could have done without) And that’s how I will always remember it.
I thought it might be helpful to some folks (like my GF friend, Melissa, who was recently engaged — congrats!) to tell you all about planning a gluten-free wedding.
Despite what some might say, you can have a completely gluten-free wedding if you’d like, it just takes a little planning and good vendors — luckily we have all the resources here in Milwaukee.
Our planning time was fairly short. We were engaged at the end of March and got married September 9th, 2011. The game plan was that if we could figure out a venue for the ceremony and reception for that year, we were going to go for it, otherwise we would have waited until 2012.
The venue was pretty much our dream location — the Harley Davidson Museum.
Both the ceremony and the reception took place there, with HD (Levy Group) catering the food. We had numerous meetings, phone calls, and emails with the events coordinator to make sure everything was safe. The tasting went well, loved the food, felt like we were ready to go.
We had stations and decided to do everything gluten-free except for the buns for the “Slider Bar,” which we planned in advance to get GF buns from Molly’s Gluten Free Bakery.
- Taco Bar: meat, rice, beans, salsa, and all the fixings, with tortilla chips and corn tortillas
- Slider Bar: burgers, pulled pork, and buffalo chicken with potato chips & dip
- Thai Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps w/ sweet chili sauce and veggies & dip
And cake. Of course there was cake.
From Molly’s Gluten Free Bakery.
Mary (the owner) was an absolute joy to work with — I found pictures of the cake I wanted and she went out and bought a special tip, practiced with it, and made the most beautiful cake.
It was one of my top priorities. Any time I used to dream of having a wedding, my mind typically went to the cake. (after the groom, of course) But after being diagnosed with celiac disease, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
It was perfect.
Layers of white wedding cake with raspberry filling and a not-too-sweet frosting that we couldn’t get enough of.
Check out those cupcakes in the background — all gluten free, and going fast! (Ryan snapped a couple pics before the mad-cake-rush started)
White wedding cupcakes with raspberry filling, chocolate with buttercream frosting, and cinnamon spice with cream cheese frosting.
All of our desserts were gluten-free, and people raved about them. In fact, I had several friends after the wedding ask where they were from so they could go get some for themselves — and several friends have used Molly’s for their own weddings and showers.
And we didn’t stop at just cupcakes — there were mint brownies, blondies, and lemon squares too.
And we washed it down with Crispin Cider, which was so kindly donated by my “Crispin Fairy.”
TIPS FOR PLANNING A GLUTEN-FREE WEDDING
- Have a list of questions to ask when calling a venue/caterer: be very clear about your needs, what you are looking for, and make sure the entire staff that you will be working with the day of your wedding is on board. (that’s where the stress came in — the coordinator we had worked with left after the ceremony started, so when issues came up, we didn’t have the person there we had worked with for the planning process, which led to a few very stressful moments for this bride.)
- Don’t feel bad about asking for what you want — this is YOUR day. And you want it to be perfect. If a venue isn’t able to offer you what you need to feel comfortable, keep shopping! We originally did a tasting at the Scottish Rite center and I left in tears because the chef was horrible. (and my guy had gotten stuck in traffic, during a snowstorm, so I was solo)
- Make sure a tasting is included, then reiterate that the exact same food/ingredients need to be used the day of the wedding.
- Have snacks! My celiac sista and I were ready to roll with pretzels, Larabars, and other easy snacks I could shove in a bag under the table — and lucky I did, I was HUNGRY later, after not really eating at the dinner.
- Do your kissing BEFORE you husband takes a bit of a slider on a gluten-filled bun! People thought we were crazy as the glass clinking started and we weren’t ready for a smooch. Lesson learned.
- Have everything in writing, so there are no miscommunications on expectations: have a floor plan of where gluten-free vs. non-GF food items will be placed. (if you are having some of both) At the last minute, there was an email miscommunication that led to the food being changed a bit — they decided to do a totally GF table with all three station options, then have the other three tables be gluten filled — buns, they used flour tortillas, (not on the menu) because it seemed easier to them. It caused some chaos as almost 300 people rushed over to the tables to eat (some of my husband’s fam not knowing about the GF situation and signage was a joke) and seeing this one table with very few people in line — you can guess what happened. We had folks grabbing flour tortillas and then stopping by the GF table to check out what was over there and using the utensils, etc. By the time I go over there, I was worried about cross contamination and ended up eating very little out of fear of getting sick. Not how I had envisioned it.
It took me a very long time to write about the wedding — my blood is boiling right now as I even type about the issues that came up because I felt I had done everything I could for it to be perfect. But it wasn’t our fault, we really did do all that we could, it just wasn’t executed the way I had hoped.
The good news? Very few people knew about what happened — everyone raved about the food, and in the end, the day was perfect. It really was. But I wanted to get it out there, so when you go to plan your perfect day, you are prepared.
I do have to give a shout out to Pete (from Motor Restaurant – did our tasting) and Shaely (other coordinator who was there ALL day and ROCKED IT!) from Harley — they kept their cool when the bartenders kind of sucked, the family signs weren’t put on tables so mamasita was seatless for a minute, and just keeping things running smooth when they could have gotten real ugly.
Like I said, we could have done without the stress — and after the fact, a “higher up” at HD did address all that went wrong, apologized profusely, because we came to find out they had closed one of their kitchens to make sure all the food was safe and had gone to a lot of work to make it right (so HE was frustrated too) and they refunded some of our money to make things right. We weren’t expecting that kind gesture, we just wanted them to be aware and mostly be prepared for the next gluten-free wedding that comes through. And I would go back there and do it all over again at Harley. With just a few adjustments.
Getting ready to plan a gluten-free wedding in the Milwaukee area?
Here is a list of vendors to get you started:
- Molly’s Gluten-Free Bakery
- Ryan Abel Photography – he.is.amazing. And not just because he’s family. Check out his site. Hire him. He won’t disappoint.
- Sound by Design — they party rocked our night!
- Brides Against Breast Cancer – my entire dress fund went to charity!
- Iron Horse Hotel – day after the wedding breakfast was the best.
- Larry’s Market & Deli – our pre-wedding lunch (honey mustard chicken)
- Invites, thank you cards, programs all from Kathy at Reply by Design Studio
- Olive Pit — R.I.P. Olive Pit, we had the best rehearsal dinner there, I miss their GF pizza so.
- Wedding Tree Guest Book from LovliDay
- I would NOT recommend Sendik’s Whitefish Bay for flowers — other friends used the one in Mequon and loved it, but they weren’t available so I went with the WFB store. Horribly disappointed. But the other vendors were just lovely to work with and Sendik’s did make things right in the end — after all the photos with the “mini bouquets” though.
The perfect day.
And if you’re still with me — take a look at this video that our absolutely phenomenal photographer, Ryan Abel, put together for us. Just type: Sarah, to view it, if you’re getting asked for the password.
Still have questions? Feel free to contact me: email@example.com to talk all things wedding!