I've been gluten free (celiac) for seven years. I found out my second year of college. Tack on casein (milk protein) intolerance, a severe soy allergy (carry an epi pen) and minors allergies to coconut and buckwheat - eating can be pretty annoying, but at this point I'm used to it.
The one thing you have to remember is that this is your friend's day, not yours. If she is your friend she will understand your situation. Explain to her that you would like to go and enjoy her wedding but you will need something to eat. Ask for the reception/caterers number's. Gluten free is much more widely known, and is not as tricky at serving someone like me who can not have multiple things, they may be able to make you something. If you call and they can not accommodate you, or you feel nervous after talking to them, ask them if it is possible for you to bring your own meal and for them to plate it for you. I did this and made the made the call myself (the reception hall had it's own caters), I didn't hassle my friend (the bride) with having to explain this to them, or try to find a solution for me. Just ask her for the numbers and tell her you will take care of it.
I can understand the money part. I spent a good chuck of money to be in her wedding and I didn't get a meal out of it either, but that is not what going to a wedding is about. I ate the salad I brought, and was happy to have eaten a safe meal so that I could enjoy the rest of the night. When I get married there will be plenty of food at my wedding for me to eat!
It can be frustrating to have to explain your situation. But it is what it is. People get dealt a lot worse hand than being a Celiac. Because of my food allergies I rarely eat out. Sure, it sucks, and when I do it can be nerve-wracking. I can tell you that having celiac's now is a lot easier in terms of options that it was even 7 years ago, when few places even understood what "gluten" was, much less how to safely make a meal, or even have gluten free options. Supermarkets now have many more items as well, so try to focus on the positives.
And if you are ever somewhere where they have no gluten free dressing? (try finding gluten/dairy and soy free!!) ask for plain olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. That is what I usually use. They also sell the single serve salad dressing packets (can get off of amazon). Try carrying one in your purse or car. That way if you end up with a salad you can have some dressing that you like.
Every passing minute is a another chance to turn it all around.
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