This post is written by Isabella Rossetti. Isabella is a Nima College Ambassador, celiac warrior, and studies at Connecticut College.
This month, my cousin got married in Athens, GA. This wedding was planned over a year in advance– at a time when I was not diagnosed with celiac (such ignorant bliss!). Upon my diagnosis and the wedding fast approaching I was nervous I would not be able to eat anything at the wedding at all. Luckily, with some self advocacy and Nima I was prepared for a wild wedding weekend with no stomach aches. Here is my gluten-free wedding story:
Before the Wedding
Leading up to the wedding I first made sure to contact my aunt who was planning the majority of the wedding and express my concerns. She was a lifesaver and I truly am very lucky to have someone so accommodating and understanding in my life. Not only did she contact and work with the venues of the rehearsal and wedding venue she stocked her hotel room with a bunch of gluten free goodies.
The Rehearsal Dinner
First, I tackled the rehearsal dinner which was set up buffet style (BIG red flag)! However, the staff there had prepared a separate meal for me with food from the restaurant attached to the venue (Southern Kitchen + Bar). The food was delicious and I stuck to trusty red wine as my drink of choice. Then came dessert, a southern delight, banana pudding– certainly not gluten free. So, instead of leaving my sweet tooth to suffer, I asked the waiter if they offered anything gluten free and he came back ten minutes later with a flourless chocolate torte to die for! I tested this on my Nima because it just seemed too good to be true. The results? Gluten-free!
The next morning I woke up around noon with a few hours to spare before the wedding and went immediately to Chick-Fil-A which was a five minute walk to the hotel. Score! Their grilled chicken sandwich with fries were my lifeline during my time in the south. I also was in desperate need of caffeine and while at Starbucks picked up a gluten-free salami and cheese platter to bring to the wedding later during cocktail hour! My aunt warned me that the wedding venue did not have many options and I would be able to eat a chicken breast and salad (not so great). Along with my Starbucks charcuterie I also brought a snack pack of almonds and a snack pack of Enjoy Life snickerdoodle cookies.
Alcohol at the Wedding
At the venue I went to the bar and was so fortunate to have a bartender who was super cautious about my allergy and made super yummy and unique vodka lemonade with tito’s. I’ve been burned by sangria with wheat based alcohols in it and it still painfully fresh in my mind. When it came time for dinner a coordinator brought me my sad plate of chicken and salad, which despite my hunger, I decided to test with my Nima since the kitchen space was considerably smaller in this venue. To my sadness it came out positive for wheat. I was so thankful for my Nima in this situation to not ruin a fun night of dancing and family with one sketchy chicken breast.
My main takeaways from this new experience of gluten free adventures would be to shamelessly advocate for yourself because you might get some good chocolate torte. Another, is to keep in contact with your family so they can respect and help you navigate your allergy. Also, always be weary of mixed drinks– although some people say that the fermentation process of hard alcohol distills out any wheat I still had some bloating and nausea after sneaky sangria so don’t be afraid to ask for your drink not mixed (prevents cross contamination) and made with alcohol/mixers that the bartenders are confident will be gluten free and if all else fails: wine! Finally, stock up on snacks (which is a general rule of life I have always followed.
Bye for now,
Isabella (& my southern canine cousin Nellie)
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