Planning a Gluten Free Wedding on a Budget

Apologies for the dearth of posts the last two months. I wasn’t sick or in jail, thank goodness. I was super busy planning a wedding. My wedding. Yes, I planned and pulled off an entire wedding—from appetizers, bridesmaids, and cake to tuxedos, underthings, a veil and white gown…and everything in between—for 100 guests in four months.

It wasn’t that hard. I mean, what else is there to do while recovering from surgical removal of one’s womanly innards and resulting complications thereof?

Sure, I could have wallowed in self-pity: woe is me (or, more correctly, I) for being in pain for five months and counting (I have gotten a bit peevish about the pain on a few occasions). How awful to be in menopause when I’m not even fifty (I got over this pretty quickly). Rue that I’ll never have children of my own (this does prickle me with sorrow from time to time and then I think of all the kids I’ve helped as a teacher or adviser in the past twenty years plus being an aunt is pretty danged awesome). Wallowing is boring and surprisingly exhausting. I prefer to look on the bright side of things.

There were and are a lot of bright sides to the surgery. Number one, I don’t have cancer. We can end the gratitude list right there. What else do I need to feel immensely grateful? The surgery and cancer scare reminded me that life is unpredictable and short. There are no guarantees that I’ll have next year or any years after that, or even next week. Life can change in an instant. The doctor could have found cancer and I could be dying or dead right now.

Given that uncertainty, as well as the good news that, at least for now, I’m not dying, why not go for it and get married to the most wonderful man in the world? And why not do it sooner than later?


He asked: will you marry me?  I said yes!!

In early September, we decided to get married on January 3rd. This date made so much sense for several reasons, we thought:
1) Venues and services are cheaper on a Sunday than on a Saturday. This was true for every venue, except the one we chose.
2) It’s the first Sunday after the holidays so vendors might be willing to bargain with us because they’re heading into the slow winter season. This was true for us.
3) It’s a dead day for vendors after the busy holidays so we should be able to get the vendors we want. This was true for us.
4) The kids in the family still are on winter break so we’re not competing with classes yet. This was only partially true. The public schools here didn’t go back into session until Tuesday; however, up north my cousins’ kids went back to school on Monday so they couldn’t come to the wedding. All the college kids were on break so they could and did come.
5) New Year’s Day sucks. It’s the official holiday commemorating the end of the holidays. Having a wedding right after New Year’s Day would make New Year’s Day suck less and our anniversary will give us something to look forward to each year as we dismantle the Christmas tree and feel again how much New Year’s Day sucks. This was true for us.
6) What else would people be doing except dismantling their Christmas trees and feeling depressed that the holidays are over? This was partially true. Many people had nothing better to do and happily accepted the invitation. The down side was that many people had to go to work the next day so they left our reception early.

Our budget allowed only for a free wedding planner: me. I’m a seasoned event planner. For work, I’ve planned and executed conferences; awards dinners; fundraisers with silent auctions, dinner, and dancing; strategic planning retreats; large retirement and going away parties; site visits; tours; and more. I’ve also done my share of helping other brides plan their weddings. In short, I have some skills.

I love details. I love plans. I love budgets and comparison shopping and I love getting a great deal. If you don’t love details; if you don’t love making a plan and checklists and a budget and sticking to them; if you don’t love comparison shopping and waiting for a sale; if you get frustrated easily or don’t like to compromise, don’t plan your wedding all by yourself.

How do you plan your wedding without turning into Bridezilla?

Keep everything in perspective.

The most important part of any wedding—mine, yours, theirs—is the I Do-Me Too exchanging vows and rings/I now pronounce you husband and wife. Everything else is extra.

I frequently said, “If the day ends and we’re married, it will have been a successful day.” IWedding profile meant it. If the flowers died, if the caterer forgot the rolls, who cares? We got married!

I had to remind myself of this when some of the flowers started to wilt because they arrived a day earlier than I would have liked. I had to tell myself, “Just pull out the ones that look bad before putting them out and no one will know.”

It worked.

My other secret strategy? Love. I planned for love with love while sharing as much love as I could in the process of preparing to unite in holy matrimony with the love of my life. When love is the reason and the answer, everything is easier and more enjoyable.

The next several posts will focus on the specifics of planning a completely gluten free wedding. I’ll rave about my vendors who went above and beyond to produce food so good, no one believed it was gluten free. And corn free. And nut free. And free of a lot of other allergens, too.

We did it with a budget of eighteen grand. We did a lot ourselves. We comparison shopped, waited for sales, used coupons, and asked for help. We got it, too. Amazingly wonderful, loving help from friends and family members who are gifted people with huge hearts.

Yup. Love is all you need. And God. And a sense of humor. And humility. And gluten free food.