DEAR AMY: I've been invited to multiple weddings this summer. Currently, I am receiving requests for reception dinner preferences with the choice of meat, fish, or a vegetarian option consisting of pasta. Unfortunately, I am a gluten-free vegetarian. Most of my friends are aware of my aversion to meat. However, not all of them know that I am gluten-free due to health reasons. I would like to avoid inconveniencing the couples with my dietary restrictions. I'd prefer to eat in my hotel room beforehand, but I'd hate for them to pay for a plated meal that I cannot eat. I do not want to offend anyone by declining the meal. Bringing my own food to a reception seems a bit tacky. I thought of writing a request for just "a plate of vegetables" on the meal card, but I do not know if this is rude. How do I share in the nuptial celebrations without troubling anyone?
--Wedding Food Blues
DEAR BLUES: I ran your letter past Mollie Katzen, author of "The New Moosewood Cookbook," (2000, Ten Speed Press), whose work helped popularize vegetarian cuisine in the United States.
Katzen says that you could probably enjoy a perfectly good gluten-free vegetarian dinner composed entirely of the side dishes offered to other guests. She responded, "You should let the hosts know that you have a simple request for dinner and ask them if they would prefer that you go through them or communicate it directly to the caterer. If you stress that it's a simple, one-sentence request ('I'd like my dinner to be an assortment of lacto-ovo vegetarian, wheat-free side dishes.') I think the hosts won't mind passing that along. Plus, the caterer will appreciate knowing. It will make her/his job much more straightforward."
Once this request is made, let it stand. Do not follow up or make another inquiry. If at the event your meal does not arrive, do not worry the couple about it and simply do your best to deal with what you're served.