How to Design a Gluten-Free Wedding Menu

Browse our guide to offering gluten-free menu options for wedding guests!

How to Design a Gluten-Free Wedding Menu

Photo: Elizabeth Messina

The gluten-free lifestyle is one of the most popular dietary crazes in America, and it is also essential to the health of millions of Americans. The term "gluten-free" is used to describe a dietary treatment for those with celiac disease, which causes affected persons to experience inflammation in their small intestine when consuming gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. With the popularity of the diet among those affected, as well as numerous celebrities and health-conscious individuals, gluten-free menus have become one of the newest catering trends for weddings. 

Since many common wedding-menu items contain gluten, including breads, cakes, pastas, salad dressings, soups, and even beer, gluten-free guests can have a difficult time enjoying the celebration, gastronomically speaking. To cater to gluten-free guests, RSVP cards can incorporate a section for dietary restrictions. This way, gluten-free meals can be prepared for guests ahead of time.

It’s important to check with on-site caterers before booking a venue to see if they are willing to incorporate gluten-free options, though many caterers are open to the idea. “For me, creating a gluten-free menu is not just about replacing the bread, it’s about being a little more creative with the recipes,” says Matthew Riznyk, a chef for catering company Great Performances. “Gluten-free food is a trend that we have embraced not only because it accommodates guests’ allergies, but because it challenges us to develop more innovative dishes.”

Simple measures can also be taken to ensure gluten-free guests have limited troubles at the dinner table, such as leaving dressing on the side or labeling trays of hors d’oeuvres to avoid confusion. While wines may appear to be free of gluten, many are not; and conversely, some beers like Omission are, in fact, free of the substance. “Serving a gluten-free meal at your wedding doesn’t mean only serving vegetables and meat,” says Denise Sirovatka, VP of Marketing at Udi’s Gluten Free Foods. “We’ve heard from many brides who incorporated gluten-free items in creative ways, such as using [Udi’s] muffins to make cake balls.”

Creating a gluten-free menu is not as difficult as it seems. All it takes is a talented team, out-of-the-box thinking, and a little patience. Don’t let being gluten-free ruin your big day. Think of it as an opportunity to offer new and innovative dishes to your guests that they may have never tried!

For the cake-pop recipe mentioned in this post, see below:

Lemon Poppy Cake Balls 

1 package of Udi’s Lemon Streusel Muffins
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
12 ounces white chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons all-vegetable shortening
Poppy seeds, for sprinkling 

1. Crumble the muffins into a large bowl.
2. Using an electric hand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and blended. Beat in the vanilla and lemon juice until fluffy.
3. Add half of the lemon frosting to the crumbled muffins and combine using a fork. If the mixture isn’t moist enough, add more frosting, a little at a time. Using a tablespoon-sized cookie coop, form cake balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 1 hour.
4. In a double boiler set over medium heat, melt together the chocolate and shortening. Working one at a time and using a toothpick, dip the cake balls into the chocolate mixture. Sprinkle with poppy seeds and let set on parchment-lined baking sheet. 

Recipe developed by Amy Howard for Easy Eats magazine.
Opening photograph by Elizabeth Messina.