A love story free from gluten

When Dave, an Executive Chef, and Katie, Head of Alumni Relations at Kings College London, met in 2020 it wasn't long before their romance blossomed and they were engaged to be married. Here they share the details of their entirely gluten free wedding which took place last Autumn. 

Q. When did you get diagnosed with coeliac disease and what was your journey? 

A. I was diagnosed with coeliac disease in 2006, by chance really. After roughly two years of hospital appointments and various trips to A&E, my consultant put me forward for an MRI, Bone Marrow Biopsy and Gastroscopy. They were looking to see if I had mastocytosis, a rare condition caused by an excess number of mast cells gathering in the body's tissues. My symptoms included skin reactions, gut issues, muscle pain and fatigue, which are very similar to those associated with undiagnosed coeliac disease. The result for mastocytosis was negative and fortunately the next thing I was offered was a blood test for coeliac disease.  

Q. How did it feel to be diagnosed? 

A. For me, the diagnosis was a massive relief, and I was thankful that it could be controlled through diet rather than medications, but nothing can really prepare you for how hard it can get. Guidance from Coeliac UK was a huge help. Once I started a gluten free diet, I instantly noticed a change in my energy, I grew a few inches, the constant brain fog lifted and I managed to ace my GCSE exams. A new interest was sparked in cooking, and understanding food really empowered me to feel in control. By the time I met Dave in 2020, my gluten free diet was a core part of me and something I didn’t think twice about. Dave was amazing at adapting to my diet, having undergone rigorous training as part of his role as a chef and immediately understood the challenges which came with it.  

Q. What did it mean to you to have your big day completely gluten free?  

A. Once we found the venue, the Events Manager talked us through the menu options available and suggested we just make the whole event gluten free! It was so refreshing to hear and removed any stress of being glutened on the day. With my gluten free diet and Dave being a chef, we both knew the food was always going to be one of the most important parts. As well as the help we had from the venue, we also had lots of support from our friends. Peter, a close friend of ours and a professional pastry chef designed and created our gluten free three tiered cake. It included a layer of chocolate marble, mango and passion fruit, and lemon and gin drizzle cake and it was a huge hit with our guests! Dave also prepared small boxes of gluten free double chocolate cookie sandwiches as wedding favours for guests to take away on the day.  

Q. How was your honeymoon and do you have any tips for travelling abroad for those with coeliac disease? 

A. For our honeymoon we travelled to Brazil where we visited Rio de Janeiro and Iguazu Falls. Dave and I both love an adventure, and after I was diagnosed, I promised myself that the condition would never stop me exploring the world. But as those with coeliac disease will know, travelling can prove challenging at times. To overcome the language barrier when abroad, I note down key phrases and google translate is handy. I always prepare a list of gluten free friendly venues I've found online before I travel which can help when planning your itinerary for the day. Breakfast options, particularly on the go can be tricky so I often prefer to book apartments, providing more flexibility to store and prepare my own food. Finally, I always travel with snacks! I rarely go anywhere without snacks, but especially when I'm abroad. I recently discovered you can take an extra bag with food when flying if you have coeliac disease – it’s glorious!* 

Thank you to Katie and Dave for sharing your story, we’re so pleased you enjoyed your special day and that making it gluten free made all the difference.  

An extra thank you to Dave who will be running the London Marathon this year to raise funds for Coeliac UK, you can read his journey and sponsor him here.

* You should always check this with your airline at the time of booking as rules may vary. 

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