I love going to weddings. I love seeing all the decorations, getting to mingle with friends and family, and especially, the dance-floor. Recently, I realized after talking to my friends who don't have allergies that one of the most important and exciting parts of a wedding is the food. As someone who has lived with severe food allergies their entire life, the food at weddings has always been a cause of anxiety rather than excitement. It is scary to place your life in the hands of caterers who may not understand the severity of your allergy. On the other hand, it can be equally scary to show up to a wedding carrying a whole lunchbox of safe food for yourself. I personally hate sticking out in a crowd, seeming like an inconvenience to others, and having people ask what I'm eating and why. That's why I wanted to make a post dedicated to how I have stayed safe with my food allergies at weddings and still had the most amazing time.
Before attending any wedding, I suggest researching where the venue is and asking to see the caterer's menu. If you feel comfortable and your allergen isn't all over the menu, you can try eating the foods at the wedding. If you choose to go this route, I strongly encourage you to directly talk to the caterer yourself and clearly discuss your allergy with them to minimize any possible miscommunication. In addition, regardless of whether or not you decide to eat the food at the wedding, you must bring your full medical kit (2 Epi-Pens, Benadryl, inhaler, etc.). The last thing you want is to be in danger on someone else's special day, especially if the venue is in a rural area.
If you decide to bring your own food to the wedding, I recommend doing your research on where the venue is, nearby grocery stores, and any nearby restaurants that can accommodate your allergy. If the venue is close to where you live, you can get away with heating your food at home and packing it into containers, keeping it in an insulated bag or lunchbox to keep warm. The wedding I recently attended was far from home, so my parents and I ended up going to the local Walmart to buy an insulated lunchbox and reusable containers. Then, we researched local restaurants and found a nearby Thai restaurant that had plenty of vegan/dairy-free options for me. Just before the wedding, we ended up picking up the Thai food (I got spring rolls and tofu yellow curry with brown rice) and packing it into the containers in the lunchbox. As you can see in the photo above, when it came time for appetizers, I grabbed my spring rolls out of my lunchbox and was completely satisfied. Preparing and doing your research is key to making sure you have safe food to bring to the wedding and giving you peace of mind.
When everyone went up to get their main courses, I whipped out my yellow curry from my lunchbox, dished it onto my plate, and ate along with everyone else. The only comments I received from people were about how good my food looked. I realized that my fear of being seen as different is really all in my head. In reality, most people don't care or pay attention to the food others are eating around them at a wedding. Weddings are celebrations of two people's love for each other--the last thing people will care about is whether your brought a lunchbox of safe food or not. I'm not going to lie and say that I don't get nervous about bringing my own food to social gatherings in general because I do. Maybe it's partly because of who I am, maybe it's partly because of the anxieties I've developed as I've gotten older--but, I have learned to overcome these fears and prioritize my own wellbeing.
As recent as only a couple years ago, I would come to gatherings like birthday parties or holidays dinners and say that I ate beforehand when in reality, I was starving but surrounded by unsafe food. I chose not to bring my own food out of fear of being perceived as different or rude. To some people, that may sound ridiculous but it is the reality that many people with food allergies, especially children and teenagers, face. The point that I want to make is people with food allergies deserve to and should eat at social gatherings. Don't be afraid to bring your own food! I also want to say to people who don't have food allergies, first of all, you're lucky (lol). Second of all, if you know someone with an allergy or see someone bring their own food to an event, please be supportive. Don't make jokes about their food or draw attention to it because that can fuel their fears.
I hope this helps people with allergies feel more comfortable about attending weddings and has given people without allergies some insight on what it's like for us 💜 As always, please let me know if you have any other topics you'd like me to blog about!