Am I a Jerk If I Host a Vegan Wedding?

A toxic combination of veganism and people pleasing

Wedding Advice Two Cents Confetti Sign

Q: My fiancé and I are in the process of planning our wedding and we are currently at a catering crossroads. APW has been an invaluable resource to us during our engagement, so we have a question to pose: Will we be jerks if we host a vegan or vegetarian wedding for omnivore guests? My fiancé and I are a toxic combination of vegan and people-pleaser, which means that we spend a lot of time fretting about inconveniencing our friends and families with our dietary restrictions. We both grew up in Kansas and currently live in Minnesota, so we mostly hang out with Midwestern meat-lovers and have no issue with people who eat meat. However, we both really hate the idea of paying for meat for our reception dinner. I’m torn between wanting to prioritize my guests’ comfort and wanting to stick to my beliefs. We don’t want anyone who attends our wedding to feel like we’re (literally) shoving veganism down their throats and we don’t want anyone to be hungry. But my fiancé and I also want our wedding to reflect the values and the life that we share. Is it offensive to ask people to eat vegan? How do I please everyone?

Are you serving a vegan-only menu? Are you vegan and serving meat at your wedding? Why or why not? How about you non-vegans with other dietary restrictions: Are you serving food you and your partner don’t eat to please guests? 

 If you want the APW community’s two cents, send it to QUESTIONS AT APRACTICALWEDDING DOT COM, and we’ll do our best to crowd source you some answers!

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  • It’s your wedding. Serve whatever you like and feel comfortable with. As a meat-eater myself, I’ve enjoyed so much amazing vegan and vegetarian food. If your guests are bothered by this choice, too bad. They can suck it up and eat one meat-free meal. You do you.

    • savannnah

      I would agree with this with one caveat. My fiance’s family is from the mid-west and they have meat with every meal no exception. When I talked about having a pizza only reception, (with possible meat toppings) there was a reaction that we weren’t feeding people. While I know it is ridiculous because we were in fact feeding people I also know from traveling that what people consider food and what they consider edible but not food or not filling is very cultural. Which is all to say you do you but expect to hear about it as well and be prepared for some response in your pocket so its not going to stress you out- even if that response is ” this is our decision, so looking forward to seeing you at the wedding”

      • idkmybffjill

        I’d just not tell those people. My MIL is one of those people. She eats vegetarian all the time. Even vegan sometimes with us. If we don’t tell her she doesn’t realize it.

        • jem

          This is what I was going to say… have a nice vegan catered meal but don’t shout from the rooftops “THIS IS VEGAN.”

          • idkmybffjill


          • Amanda

            Especially since LW doesn’t really want to evangelize at this event.

        • savannnah

          I agree- but I feel like the LW described herself as a people pleaser so being aware someone might ask after it and its ok- not rude- would be a good thing.

          • idkmybffjill

            I feel like people generally only mention this stuff before the fact – but I could be wrong there so definitely good to keep in mind!

        • Amanda

          So last Thanksgiving I began drinking wine while peeling the potatoes, and when my boyfriend’s mom wanted me to split the potatoes to make one vegan and one non-vegan, I bet her $5 dollars that I could make the one vegan and no one would notice.

          I make a damn good (vegan) mashed potato, and that lady still owes me $5.

          • Yael

            What are your secrets? Because my family still talks out about the one time I tried to make vegan mashed potatoes (they weren’t unsuccessful, they just didn’t have a pound of butter and cream in them).

          • Amanda

            My general secret is garlic powder, dried oregano, and lots of pepper. But I also used plain soymilk (accidentally using sweetened or vanilla is a meal killer) and used a lot of earth balance.

            There also were the separate gravies. So there are a lot of variables.

      • sofar

        My family is midwestern, Irish catholic, requires MEAT MEAT ALL THE MEAT (our Christmas parties feature fried chicken, ham, beef, turkey and bacon), and is pickier than most toddlers, and my cousin TOTALLY tricked them into eating a vegan meal at her wedding. Pasta with red sauce. Salads. Piles of garlic bread. Potato chips. Carrots and corn (the only veggies my family will touch) and loads of desserts (she actually went non-vegan with all the cupcakes, but had vegan cake for her and her husband). If she’d gone with what they consider “weird” food or obvious meat substitutes like tofu, they would have noticed right away. But she served boring Italian-Americana. My family (who normally throws tantrums when the fried chicken runs out at Christmas) was like, “Sweet, we’re basically at Fazoli’s” and dug in.

        She did have to be very careful about who she told (basically, her parents who were HORRIFIED she was doing this and too embarrassed to tell anyone else). If anyone had gotten wind, she’d have gotten an earful. But she played it cool. Everyone loved the food.

        Totally agree you need to have responses in your pocket if people DO find out, and yours is perfect. And vegans shouldn’t feel like they have to serve just boring food to appease their relatives. But having some “boring” options gives the picky toddlers something to nosh on if they recoil from “vegan snowflake” food.

  • Cdn icecube

    Most people have eaten accidentally vegan or vegetarian many times in their lives and have continued to live their lives. My advice would be to stick to things that are normally vegan so that people aren’t wasting their time figuring out what setian/tofu/nutritional yeast is and can focus more on your wonderful celebration. That’s not to say that you can’t or shouldn’t have those items, but maybe have one ‘normal’ food for every ‘super vegan’ item. Does that make sense? Ie. have a pasta with tomato sauce and veggies (normally vegan), and jackfruit tacos with nutritional yeast cheese.

    • Jane

      There’s a donut place near me that is vegan and it took me MONTHS and multiple purchases to realize it. Donuts were great and that was all that mattered.

    • Amanda

      Sticking with simple vegan rather than fake whatever also takes away the comparison factor.

  • Ashlah

    Don’t announce that it’s vegan or vegetarian, and most people won’t even notice. I realized once that I’d attended a vegetarian wedding only after the fact (meatless lasagna). The couple aren’t vegetarian, it’s just what they happened to serve. People, despite insisting all meals require meat, actually eat a lot more meatless meals than they likely realize.

    • Violet

      Your last sentence, all the way. It’s so true.

    • Jenny

      I mean, that might be true. But my family (southern and midwest) all view meat as what makes something a meal. They would absolutely NEVER accidentally have a vegetarian meal (they specifically ask in restaurants if things have meat). This isn’t to say that not announcing it is or isn’t the way to go. But for us the options would have been deal with hearing about it on our wedding day, or prep people for it, hear about it for a while and tell them they can grab a burger before hand if they are worried about starving.

      • penguin

        This was my thought too – if Great Aunt Mildred feels that she absolutely MUST eat meat, she can grab a burger before she heads to the ceremony/reception.

      • idkmybffjill

        Even enchiladas and tamales though??? My family is from texas and meat centric but regularly get cheese enchiladas as an entree (admittedly occasionally with chili con queso) and would honestly not notice. Although those aren’t vegan. I maybe would say – consider cheese. Ha

        • Jenny

          Well for one, we just got my father in law to start even considering Mexican as a option for food, but even so he will only get chicken tacos. My other relatives (who I’m talking about never eating vegetarian) love going to Mexican, but always get a meat option. Even my mom, who isn’t all that dogmatic about it must have meat, probably rarely accidentally eats vegetarian, if she gets a non meatless option, it’s on purpose. But honestly, a lot of them eat a pretty standard meat, potato and veggie meal when they cook at home. They would eat cornbread milk and a tomato as a snack, or maybe sunday supper after the huge Sunday dinner. There are people who have cooked for me, who probably said to themselves, I bet Jenny (and Jennyshusband) didn’t even notice that this was a vegetarian meal. I mean, we did, we just don’t need to say hey, I acknowledge that this was a vegetarian meal, well done you. And probably my husband asked me to stop a taco bell on the way home because he was still hungry. This doesn’t make what they served wrong, or impolite. But it does mean that their assumption that we didn’t notice was wrong, but they will go on believing that.

          • idkmybffjill

            Wow – how interesting. I just can’t relate I suppose so I will totally take your word for it. I actually never ever eat meat at taco bell because mmmmm bean burrito. ha!

          • Jenny

            With the exception of breakfast, I would say that 95% of my parent’s meals had meat in them. To be honest I can’t think of a single meal they would have eaten that didn’t have meat (canned tuna was added to mac and cheese, canned chicken was added to ramen, ground beef was browned and added to jars of spaghetti sauce, ground beef was used for tacos, or chicken was used for tacos, or it was pork chops/chicken/burger/meatloaf). On week long camping trips we would have peanut butter and jelly on pilot bread towards the end of the week, but usually fish for dinner).

            But if my norms were determined by my college (where I met my first vegetarian) and post college life, I probably wouldn’t be able to relate either. I mean at my wedding my mom ended up adding on chicken to our catering (which already included a heavy meat chili) because she was worried about not having enough meat.

          • Amy March

            It’s easy for me to think of vegetarian meals that I regularly eat, but it’s very infrequent that I eat a vegan meal.

          • Jenny

            I totally agree, I eat vegetarian meals on the regular, probably once a day. I also know that my family would (and does) absolutely notice not having meat in a meal because I doubt they could name one meal they regularly eat that doesn’t feature meat. That said, I think they would easily deal with eating say a bean taco, or a cheese enchilada, or pasta with red sauce. But the idea that if you don’t highlight it people will not notice is one I really wanted to push back on because I just feel like is not true based on a lot of my family and my husbands co-workers (we’ve accidentally served them vegetarian meals because it’s what we were planning to eat for dinner on wed and it was noticed). Not to say that the LW should choose any differently, but if LW’s gut is I think our people will notice, it is probably right. Whether or not they want to do something (tell in advance or not) is probably based on a discussion with parents (who are more likely to have to deal with the bitching if it happens) and a know your crowd thing.

          • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

            Taco Bell will sub in black beans for any meat, and it’s a game changer!

          • Guest

            Yes! I would not mention it to my hosts, but I always notice whether a meal is meatless, vegan, gluten-free, etc.

      • Ford_Prefect313

        One wedding I went to where a good chunk of the groom’s family tail gate with pizza and beer during a vegan Indian wedding are all from the midwest.

        It was buffet style, so after everyone did a look-see, decide ordering pizza from the hotel kitchen was a better deal. All of his family was from out of town, so it’s not like they could wait and hour to get home and grab a snack.

        The groom didn’t think it was a big deal that 24+ seats where empty during the dinner. His bride was hysterical. His side was from out of town. Long wedding service. Long day with pictures etc, and when 8 pm rolled around people were hungry. For whatever reason vegan Indian food was happening that day.

        • Amy March

          That’s hideously rude. They should be embarrassed.

    • Meg Keene

      Hard agree. Just because with all things weddings, if you know people are going to bitch, don’t tell them. I’ve found it’s harder for people to bitch (to you) once it’s a happy happy wedding day. I’m pretty sure we had a wedding reading a close family member hated and would have complained about for months in advance. Once it was part of the ceremony (surprise!) I never heard a peep.

      TL;DR: make sure you have enough protein and filling stuff (and obviously if you know someone who might have medical issues with food let them know) and then just do it without comment.

      • sofar

        Yes. Our families are from drastically different cultures and we had to learn that the less you tell people, the better. I think people assume they have to tell grandpa things in advance so he doesn’t cause a ruckus AT the wedding, but, really, most people are on good behavior at weddings and will just deal with things they would have argued about, had they been given a heads-up to be pissed off.

        The second you announce a vegan meal and/or state that you’re having one “in keeping with your values,” you are inviting a ton of crazy to rain down upon you.

      • Marie Tachouet

        Yes! Have that vegan wedding! I’m not vegan, but I love vegan restaurants and am often equally satisfied. Nutritional yeast and cashew creme can go a long way to tricking people ;) But DO label products that have soy, as it’s a common allergen and true carnivores might not know it’s a common protein agent.

        • Nooooooooch ;)

        • JillPole

          And label things that have nuts! Cashew cream is a frequent ingredient I see in vegan recipes, and I can’t have it.

        • If you are going to label items (which I think its so important), the biggies are Soy, Wheat/Gluten, Nuts and Dairy. Most people can navigate most allergies around those.

        • dithmer

          Oof. Nutritional yeast. I had some vegan roommates once who insisted I try their mac and nutritional yeast because it “Tastes exactly the same!!!!”

          Not so much.

      • Amanda

        I think collecting food allergies and restrictions with the RSVPs is really common and easy, and goes a really long way in keeping people comfortable. That way you know what needs labeling, and everyone has all the information they actually need, rather than giving them reasons to grumble before they show up.

        • rg223

          Yes, I think the RSVP food restriction question is KEY (given the back-and-forth on this thread about whether you should tell guests about the vegan food beforehand). You can find who actually has food restrictions and what they are upfront, give THOSE people a heads up about the menu if need-be, and let everyone else realize (or not) that the food is vegan at the wedding.

        • Guest

          I’m torn here. I think this would work fine for people who are used to food restrictions and a wide range of foods to choose from, but as someone who can generally eat most foods but can’t eat beans/lentils/soy when breastfeeding, I would only know how serious of a problem that could be if I knew the meal was going to be vegan. Since I’m not actually allergic to those items, I might not list them–plus, I might be hoping to be able to eat them by the time of a wedding months in the future. That said, since the couple is vegan, I would certainly go into it knowing that a vegan meal with perhaps no protein I could eat was a possibility. My emergency nut supply would be on hand!

          • Ella

            I don’t get this. Either it’s serious enough to list on the RSVP, or it’s not. Someone could conceivably serve a meal full of soy, that also had meat in it – it doesn’t make you any more able to eat it.

    • I don’t know… I think if it’s vegetarian this is safe bet but vegan is a little trickier? Like, I know a lot of people who will definitely notice if there isn’t meat or cheese in any of the dishes. Aaand, honestly with even the best and most protein filled vegan dishes portioning can be a little bit different. Like, if it’s a buffet and your guests grab “meat-meal” type portions some could end up a little hungry.

    • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

      Yes! I feel like announcing it calls attention to it, and then makes it ‘weird.’

    • Laura C

      I vote do announce it. Give people the chance to pre-game if they need to. Being gluten free and having a few strong food aversions, the likelihood that I would end up massively hungry at a vegan wedding is high. Having a snack ahead of time and a candy bar in my purse would make the whole experience a lot better for me.

      • I vote announce as well, so long as you know your crowd. For example, my family views meat as a key part of any meal, so I wanted to give them a heads up. That way they have no reason to bitch about it, since hey, we were honest upfront and were still providing awesome food.

        • penguin

          Right, and then if they want they can grab a burger or something before they head over. I probably would, just in case, even though it’s not like I need meat or anything.

          • Yeah, that’s the thing…if people are super not into it and you don’t announce it, you could come off as an insensitive host. But if you mention it and people complain, then they’re simply being rude guests. Some people really think that a meal isn’t a meal without meat, so know the crowd and give a heads up if you think it’s needed.

          • idkmybffjill

            Idk man – I feel like those same people who are like “a meal isn’t a meal without meat” are also the type whose “vegetarian option” is just the sides. Or like, “can’t you pick the meat off”. I’m not a vegetarian so I don’t even know why this grinds my gears, but I just feel like they’re the type of people to call every vegetarian out for needing “special snowflake meals”, and maybe they for once should have to feel like the special snowflakes about not being able to eat the thing.

            Food allergies obviously are a different story. :)

          • Although host-me mostly comes down on the other side of this, emotional-me SO AGREES WITH EVERYTHING YOU WROTE

          • Susan Soerens De Graaf


          • Jan

            But, I mean, are you really an insensitive host just because someone doesn’t like the food choices you made? That’s like considering someone an insensitive host because you found the bride’s dress a bit frumpy. Like, sure, not for you… but not a reflection on the couple’s hosting abilities, surely.

          • Oh no, I don’t think you’re an insensitive host at all for that. You definitely can’t please everyone, and I think the married couple should definitely serve what they want. But I could see how guests may view it as such (unrightfully so), and then the couple has to deal with the irritating repercussions of that. Since LW is concerned about this I think an easy solution is to 1. do the vegan meal and 2. let people know. They’ll have a heads up and will likely walk away being like, “Dang that was so much better than I ever though vegan food could be!”

            But hells to the yes—as Amy Poehler says, “Good for her, not for me.”

          • Jan

            Got it! Yeah, totally. I think in this particular instance the LW just has to get over the people-pleasing part, or sacrifice her values. It’s a shit and unfair situation, but I feel like that’s sort of the tagline for planning most weddings?

          • Jan

            Also, I love Yes, Please.

        • Diverkat

          Good point. My months-long fights with my MIL made me wish I never said anything to her. She eats vegetarian food! Yet she was still fighting me tooth and nail about serving meat at the wedding. Nightmare.

      • Alissa

        I vote against announcing it – my spouse is vegan, I’m vegetarian. When we go to weddings, my spouse fully expects that he’ll have limited options, so he always pregames a bit. (Being vegetarian is usually easier, but I might pregame a bit, too). The point is – we already both know that we’re a bit hard to plan for, in terms of a mass-catered meal, so we already take steps automatically to address that. (I would imagine as someone GF and with strong food aversions, that pregaming is something you might engage in anyway, just to be on the safe side?) On the other hand, I don’t know many people who truly NEED MEAT and WON’T EAT a crowd-friendly vegan dish, especially if it isn’t broadcast as such. I think the fear of vegan food tends to run high; most people enjoy veg or vegan food if it’s “incidentally veg” and not highlighted in bold font. So the risk of people freaking out by announcing it ahead of time is greater than the # of people who truly won’t enjoy a veg meal. I’d skip the drama and trust that anyone who knows they’re a picky eater and/or has dietary restrictions will probably already be taking steps to make sure they’re well fed.

        • UnspecifiedUserAlreadyInUse

          I have to eat a very strict ketogenic diet for medical reasons. That means no sugar, rice, bread, pasta, corn, potatoes, lentils, or beans. I avoid soy. Even most salad dressings are full of sugar. I would have an extremely difficult time at a vegan wedding, vegetarian might be doable. It isn’t a matter of “enjoyment” so much as “not being rushed to the emergency room.” There’s a big difference in how I would plan for an event knowing for sure there is nothing I can eat vs. there might be limited options for me.

          • Amy March

            But at this point I’d think you would need to affirmatively reach out to the hosts of any wedding, no? Even your typical country club chicken is probably cooked in a sauce and served with carbs.

          • AmandaBee

            This, or (possibly controversial opinion), if you’re someone who has a very particular diet that restricts a lot of foods, you may just want to assume that most large-group catered events won’t really have a ton you can eat and bring backup snacks. That sucks, but it’s life.

            Not advocating against asking or trying to accommodate food restrictions at all, but at some point it’s just not realistic to expect hosts to accommodate every possible food restriction for a large group.

          • UnspecifiedUserAlreadyInUse

            There’s a middle ground between accommodating all food restrictions and keeping the menu secret so people can’t complain about the vegan food.

          • idkmybffjill

            I’ve been to loads of nonvegan weddings where the menu wasn’t published somewhere. We didn’t publish ours because it was a buffet where no one made choices! I think this is real common.

          • AmandaBee

            I understand why you’d personally want to know ahead of time, but I still don’t see it as an obligation on the couple’s part to advertise their menu, particularly when they know some people are going to be unreasonable about it for no reason other than the fact that it’s outside the norm. Presumably if you weren’t given the option to select a dish, you’d know to either check in with the couple and/or make alternative plans for food. This may also depend on your social circle’s expectation – in mine, selecting dishes ahead of time is more the exception than the norm because most people do buffets.

          • UnspecifiedUserAlreadyInUse

            Well, usually on a wedding invite they list what will be served, and you put a check mark next to what you want. So I’ll have somewhat of an idea ahead of time, ie, beef or chicken. Usually at events I can have a salad with blue cheese, the meat course and non-starchy veg, and give the potatoes to my partner. Usually cocktail hour will have things like nuts and cheese. An all vegan event is pretty rare, and I would definitely want to know that ahead of time. There’s a difference between bringing some subtle snacks to supplement and packing a sack lunch when I’m wearing a cocktail dress. The point is if you generally want to let people know what the menu is, whatever it is.

          • Amy March

            Oh interesting! More than half the time there’s no menu option on RSVP cards I see and no information about the meal at all.

          • Jan

            But aren’t plated dinners becoming less common at weddings? People who have buffets or heavy apps at their receptions tend not to list food options, and just try and cover bases for common food restrictions (e.g., no nuts, a gluten free and a veggie option, etc.). I honestly don’t remember the last time I received an invitation that asked which dish I’d like to be served– years, for sure. But that could of course be a cultural thing!

          • idkmybffjill

            How do you deal at non-vegan weddings? Ask about all marinades? I just feel like folks with strict diets like that probably are already prepared to deal, right?

          • UnspecifiedUserAlreadyInUse

            Depends on what is being served. I try not to make a big scene, I just eat the meat and salad and ask for sauces on the side if possible. Most weddings tell you on the RSVP card your menu choices so I’m usually not going in blind. My main point is give people a heads up and publish the menu so they can plan ahead if necessary.

          • Diverkat

            My main point is give people a heads up and publish the menu so they can plan ahead if necessary.

            I haven’t had an invite to a wedding in at least 10 years which published the meal, and being veggie, I usually am the one to give the heads up to the couple – mainly so that if they aren’t planning a veggie meal, I will find out about it and plan accordingly. But I take my dietary restrictions on my own head, and am pro-active about ensuring that I’m fed. If the couple will accommodate my diet, great, but if they can’t or won’t, then I can plan. But I have also asked my guests to let me know about dietary restrictions so I could make sure they were accounted for, and I didn’t have to publish the menu (thankfully, because it was a buffet with like a million options). I totally see where you’re coming from, but I found my life was a million times easier because my family didn’t have the opportunity to hound me at every turn about the menu. It’s the biggest regret I have, telling MIL that it would be vegetarian. It caused months of fights and that shit isn’t worth it to me.

          • Diverkat

            In this case I think it would be best to be up front about your dietary needs then – I had two friends who have a similar dietary restriction to yours and I made sure that I could feed them, rather than make an announcement. That way I’m not revealing their medical issues, and they can still enjoy eating food that won’t kill them.

      • This is why I think they should announce it too. I totally see the other side of this but for me, I’d rather field some jerk-y meat eaters (which lets be honest, as a vegetarian I have to do all the time anyway) then risk having my guests go hungry.

        • Susan Soerens De Graaf

          no one is “hungry”-they might not like the meal but this is a first world problem and question.

          • You’re right — I really dislike the term 1st world problems, but saying “going hungry” was absolutely inappropriate hyperbole given that people are experiencing actual food insecurity and starvation.

            Any discussion about veganism is definitely taking place from the context of having the caloric surplus an food variety to choose a restrictive diet, which is an immense privilege and especially in this context/as a mostly-vegan I should have been extra careful with my words.

          • Amy March

            Oh please. Yes, actually, many people are hungry when they can’t eat a meal. “Hungry” doesn’t only refer to long term food insecurity and starvation.

        • Ashley Meredith

          Actually, I don’t think it was inappropriate hyperbole at all. If I don’t eat something every 4 hours (sometimes less), I get so hungry that I get a headache which turns into a migraine which can easily leave me throwing up and lying down in the corner for the rest of the day. If I showed up to a wedding expecting to be able to eat something out of the spread, only to find out that I couldn’t, I would be suffering, no first-world-problems about it.

          • Yeah, I’m actually in a similar boat, I get head stuff and faint (not like, lightly swoon, but full-on hope I don’t hit my head on things faint) when I don’t eat. As a vegetarian I’m prepared to pre-game events… But someone with, say, a legume allergy might not be used to thinking about that.

            I just meant I wish I’d phrased it a little differently. I’m very aware of certain aspects of vegetarian/vegan communities can have a real bad “let them vegan eat cake” thing going on towards populations that are food insecure and I want to be careful not to feed into that ¯_(ツ)_/¯

      • Jessica


      • Beth

        After reading comments of those for announcing it, I’m still against announcing it. No matter what you serve, you need to ask about people’s dietary restrictions and try to have something for them, or let them know if you simply can’t accommodate their needs. I have a friend who is no soy, no legumes, no grains and she always knows that she needs to get an ingredient list and bring her own back-up snacks. Your guests are adults and can tell you what they can’t eat. If they choose not to tell you because they don’t think it’s likely to be served, that is on them. I don’t want anything served at my wedding that I wouldn’t want to eat. I don’t want any dogma spouted that I don’t agree with. I don’t want to spend money on styrofoam plates because I don’t like them. So I won’t. And why should you buy food that you ethically don’t agree with or don’t want to eat? You shouldn’t. It’s your wedding, do what you are about.

        • Laura C

          I totally agree you shouldn’t serve anything you feel morally or ethically opposed to. And really, announcing and not announcing both have hazards. You announce, some people get annoyed in advance because they think meals have to have meat and they’re all poised to think they didn’t get enough to eat even if they did. You don’t announce, some people are likely to go hungry because, say, they don’t feel comfortable saying “I can’t eat gluten for medical reasons and also the texture of the following three common bases for vegetarian meals make me queasy.” Just for example! Ultimately it’s up to anyone faced with this decision to make the call which scenario makes them more uncomfortable; I can only say what my preference as a guest would be.

      • Ford_Prefect313

        I don’t even do that. I skip the dinner and come back later to socialize. Why should the wedding party pay for a plate of food I’m not eating?

        If you announce it, I will give you the heads up on me not eating. You’ll save a couple hundred dollars. I roll in there and find out there is nuts and soy in all the dishes, I’m going out to get a snack and come back later. I’m not going to sit in front of a empty plate explaining why I can’t eat.

        The wedding party can pick whatever menu they want, no crankiness on my part. But I will do what I need to do to kerp myself safe.

    • Greta

      I also am against announcing it… If most of your wedding guests know you and have eaten a meal with you, they will/should assume that the meal is going to be vegan. I just went to a vegan wedding, it was not announced, but the bride and groom have been vegan forever and all of their friends and family know this. I would have been shocked if there had been meat there.

    • Jan

      I agree with this. When we have guests over for dinner we never cook meat; we don’t cook meat in our house (I’m an omnivore, partner is a vegetarian; I don’t want to cook two meals and it’s easiest to nix it altogether). I’ve literally never had a guest exclaim, “But where’s the meat?!” And I’m in the Midwest. My experience tells me that as long as the food is good and filling, people tend not to even notice. Unless you think there might be food allergies you’re unaware of, I’m on team serve-enough-of-whatever-food-you-want-and-people-will-deal.

    • Diverkat

      TOTES. I didn’t make a deal out of it being vegetarian – I argued that no one would notice. AND I WAS RIGHT, MIL, SO THERE.

      Seriously though, she was all “you have to WARN people!” I’m like, uh, no, you warn people about things like an uptick in bear attacks or a cliff next to the bar. You don’t have to WARN people about edible fucking food.

  • Pterodactyl111

    It’s your wedding; serve what you want. If your guests don’t like it, they can stop at McDonalds on the way home. Anyone who complains about a good free meal that isn’t exactly to their preference is a boorish jerk.

    • sofar

      My friend, after much kvetching from her picky family, decided she was going with ONE menu option for her plated dinner (with special options for gluten free/vegetarian folks) and that people could eat it or go to McDonald’s.

      • Vanessa

        That’s what we’re doing. A beef entree, plus 3 vegetarian plates (I think we’ll go with stuffed squash but haven’t decided that). There will be salad, 2 sides, appetizers and dessert (TIRAMISUUUU).

      • Hannah

        Which (hello?) is what most of us do anyway when we host people for dinner. That’s been a helpful rule for my fiancee and me as we plan our wedding: “If we were having folks over for a dinner party, would we ask them to color-coordinate their attire? No? Okay, then we’re not doing that for our wedding.”

        • sofar

          That is SUCH a healthy way to think about wedding-planning!

        • Violet

          I love this reference point. So sane.

        • Jan

          YES! Why people have a different set of expectations for a wedding than they do for a regular dinner party, I will never, ever understand.

  • Alex K

    You are not a jerk if you don’t serve meat at your wedding. In fact, I’d argue that the people who complain about it are the ones being jerks.

    I went to a veggie wedding a few years ago and they didn’t tell everyone it was veggie (so no pick your meal on the invite). Everyone got a tasty vegetarian tamale and sides. No one complained, in fact, I heard no multiple people praise the “beef tamale!” If you want to avoid hearing about it ahead of time, I’d suggest a similar method.

  • Amy March

    I think you should absolutely have a vegan wedding and that also at least some of your guests won’t like it! To me it’s like having a church wedding that is meaningful to you that some guests will find boring- at some point you just gotta live your values.

    I’d focus on pleasing people in other ways. A full open bar can be a vegan delight. When you make menu selections do so with an eye towards things your guests will already have a comfort level with- cocktail hour spread of stuffed mushrooms and marinated roasted red peppers and delicious breads doesn’t scream “omg panic it’s vegan.” Have a mashed potato or French fry bar. For dinner throw a pasta dish in as an option. Order extra desserts.

    The way I see it there are two overlapping groups of people here. The group that just hates vegans on principle, oh well. The group that’s unfamiliar with meals that don’t feature meatandtwosides? They probably aren’t going to come round to tempeh on first exposure but also will likely be perfectly happy with a meal of carbs.

    • Pterodactyl111

      The church wedding is a great analogy. If having a long religious ceremony was important to you, you’d never skip it just because some of your guests are atheists and might not like it.

    • Violet

      Mmmm, carbs….

    • idkmybffjill

      Yep!!! Great great suggestions. Also I’ve had alot of wedding meals I didn’t like. All of them happened to have meat. The food being awesome is a bonus, but I think alot of people go to weddings prepped to have mediocre food. If you wow them with DELICIOUS moderately acceptable vegan food – they’ll be a hell of a lot happier than they would be with a scary grey steak.

    • sofar

      Yep. The church wedding is a good analogy. I have issues with the Catholic church, but I show up and kneel.

      • Michelle

        I’m sorry, but as a meat-eater and general hater of green things, I have to disagree with this. A church wedding is not the same as being hungry the whole night because you don’t like any of the food and having to skip out early to order a pizza because you’re starving (hate to say it, but I’d fake an emergency and sit in the parking lot for an hour or so to wait for my pizza delivery and so I could eat. Then I’d come back for the party). I can sit through a church wedding and do the kneeling etc. My food for the night is much more important than that. You wouldn’t serve only meat dishes if you had vegetarians or vegans attending, would you? No, you wouldn’t. Why is it any different for people who eat meat? If you really don’t want to pay for meat at your wedding, which you won’t be eating, and it rubs against your belief, you may need to change your meal style. Go for a potluck and everyone brings a dish they like, and you can serve some vegan dishes as well. That way everyone gets to eat something they like, has the chance to try something new, and you cut out a big portion of the food bill.

        • sofar

          1) There’s no guarantee you you’d like the food regardless, even if there were meat options. I’m sure there are people out there who hate pasta and salad and bread and fruit and veggies and eat 100% only meat, but that’s probably really rare. If you’re hosting a dinner reception, there should be enough food, yes, but you can accomplish that with a vegan meal. I’ve been to enough vegan weddings to know that’s the case.

          2)As for your question “you wouldn’t serve only meat if there were vegetarians or vegans would you?:” That’s different. In general, vegans are morally opposed to buying/paying for/serving meat. People who eat meat aren’t morally opposed to serving vegetables. People who are vegan/vegetarian can’t eat meat. People who eat meat CAN eat vegetables/bread/pasta/etc.

          3) Re: potluck. There are some etiquette implications with potluck weddings and those are difficult to pull off if most people are traveling to your wedding and can’t bring something. Many venues prohibit guests from bringing outside food. Personally, I’d never have asked my guests (most of which came from out of town) to provide food to “cut out a big portion of the food bill.”

  • Violet

    I’m an omnivore who has a tough time imagining how you’d feel comfortable paying for food you don’t feel was sourced according to your values. I can eat meat any day of the week; I don’t need it at your wedding.
    I eat vegetarian a lot incidentally (just happen not to use meat as my protein in a meal) but vegan much less so. I find it hard to feel “full” eating vegan, because there’s almost no fat coming from anywhere. Once you remove cheese from the equation, let’s face it, meals get less tasty and fulfilling. So my suggestions (take em or leave em) when hosting a vegan wedding for omnivores would be:
    – make sure there are fats coming in from somewhere to help with the feeling of satiety (various oils will help you here)
    – avoid/limit “replacement” meats and cheeses. I don’t mind eating food without meat, but I’ve tried imitation shrimp, chicken, etc., and honestly, it’s weird. I’m sure if that’s all one eats you can get used to it, but I think it’s the fake stuff that turns omnivores off to vegan eating. My vegan friend had me try vegan cheesecake once (“I hear it tastes just like the real thing!”). Her restrictions are religious, so she’s never had real cheese. Ummm, no, no it does not taste like the real thing. If you can avoid replacements, I probably would. (Or make sure some dishes are simply meat/cheese free, not imitation.)

    • Amy March

      Omg why aren’t mini avocado toasts a standard cocktail hour food though?

      • Violet

        People need to get on this!

      • Jane

        My mom just did this for my bridal shower! They were delicious. And a crowd pleaser!

    • Jane

      Totally agree on avoid replacements because of taste. But also – using imitation/replacement items plays into the idea that meat and other animal products are essential and you have to fake it if you can’t come up with the real thing. I feel like a grumpy naysayer is way more likely to talk about how meat is missing when offered imitation meat than when offered, say, sweet potato tacos. Then again, your grumpy naysayer is probably going to complain regardless.

      • Amanda

        It also depends on how you use the replacement. Like, tofu ricotta can be used pretty seamlessly. I actually felt bad at a fundraiser the other day because I hadn’t advertised the veganness of my pinwheels and I found out afterwards that there was another cheese-free person there.

        If it’s fake shrimp or something, some vegans (just me? I dunno) don’t even like that stuff. I’d rather have food that is cognitively consistent. Plus, comparison is the thief of joy in veg food just like the rest of life.

      • Sarah

        Also, the imitation/replacements are often made with ingredients that might cause issues with people. One of my good friends who is vegetarian is also sensitive (not quite allergic but reactive) to soy. I also can’t have soy due to medical issues, which can become an issue when I’m eating with vegan/vegetarian friends. Plus, vegan food can be really yummy on its own, so you avoid people saying “well, it didn’t taste like the REAL thing.”

    • Absolutely avoid the “replacement” foods. I suspect I’m in the minority, as I’ve mentioned my weird reaction to others and no one has ever said, “Me too!”, but there’s something about some substitute vegan item that makes me feel really, really sick. Like, break out in cold sweats and think I’m going to either vomit or pass out, and this lingers for a good 3-4 hours after I’m done eating at a vegan restaurant. No clue what causes it, but I don’t react this way to any other food except things served at vegan restaurants, so I assume it’s a faux-whatever situation.

      • idkmybffjill

        Lots of vegan substitutes are gluten or soy heavy (seitan, for example). So you could be reactive to one of those.

        • Eh

          I don’t eat meat substitute food because of the additives and filers they usually have. Plus they don’t actually taste like the thing they are replacing and usually have a odd texture.

          • idkmybffjill

            Cool. I was offering an explanation to why the person i replied to might have those reactions at Vegan restaurants. Most of the vegan restaurants I’ve been to use substitutes a fair bit.

      • Leah

        Omg I have had this exact same reaction both times I ate meat-substitute foods at vegan restaurants.

        • While I’m obviously not happy that you also go through this, I’m a bit relieved that I’m not the only one! It’s awful!!

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      If you ever have a chance to try Vegan Treats cheesecake, do. My brother ate half of one before I told him there was no cheese in it.

      • Violet

        I tried this place because it is known for its vegan cheesecake. Still just not the same. *shrug*

    • Diverkat

      I’m all about the vegan cooking and experimenting, and I have a biology/biochemistry background so thinking about things on a molecular level is fascinating to me. I think if I left this work, I’d totally want to be a chef.

      Anyway, umami and fat are two of the ingredients needed in vegan food that will help make you get that ‘full’ feeling, and mushrooms/fungi are great for this. I’ve been experimenting with nutritional yeast and chickpeas and spices, and I’ve been able to make some killer vegan burger patties (don’t forget the binding agents!) which also happen to be gluten free. It is possible! I swear!

      But I can’t lie, it takes AGES of experimenting or a whole lotta research to get the right balance. If you don’t like cooking, it’s not a great way to spend your time. If you do like cooking and you enjoy making hearty veggie/vegan food, Yotam Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty’ and ‘Plenty More’ are fantastic.

  • nutbrownrose

    I attended a vegan wedding, and while I was unaware it was vegan before I got there, no one was in the least surprised by that or the lack of alcohol. The bride and groom were both vegan, so it just made sense. Your relatives presumably know you’re vegan, and that you’re unlikely to feed them gross tasting things because you have sense. For what it’s worth, all of the vegan food was delicious at this wedding, so I have full confidence your guests will be pleasantly surprised by how good it is. Use it as an opportunity to expand their horizons a tiny bit, so maybe the next family wedding will have an actual vegan entree for you and your husband (not just salad)!

  • laddibugg

    Do most of your guests know you’re vegan? If so….IDK, I assume my vegan friends will have vegan affairs.

    • idkmybffjill

      A +++++ yes this. There are a few people in this thread whose families MUST EAT ALL THE MEAT. I’m guessing that the LW’s family is totally aware of she and her partners’ veganism and it won’t be like… if your aunt who demands meat at every event suddenly had a vegan wedding.

  • Jenny

    I mean bottom line is that you are hosting people, and offering them food, and provided the food is safe to eat, and you have options that people can eat (like gluten free etc), I think that’s fine. But since you’ve mentioned also wanting to please people I would say that vegetarian is way easier to pull of than vegan, in terms of people not grumbling or making a big deal of it.

    This is what I would do, pick a cuisine that lends its self to being vegetarian friendly without it triggering people to say, ahhhhhh WHERE IS THE MEAT! Ideas:
    Mexican food: I mean so many options veggie enchiladas, cheese enchilada, corn/potato/bean quesadillas, mexican street corn, beans, rice, meatless tacos, veggie tortilla soup, chips, salsa.
    Thai food: tofu veggie scrambles with rice, spring rolls, noodle dishes with tofu, thai curries
    Indian food: I mean just pretty much everything.
    Mediterranean food: falafle, hummus, lentils/rice, veggie salads

    Off the beaten path options:
    Breakfast foods for dinner pancakes/waffles/eggs/crepes/oatmeal
    Soup/salad/baked potato bar: veggie chili, hearty salads/ baked potato bar.

    Thai and indian are probably not really that hard to do vegan on the sly.

    Then comes the question of whether or not you spread the word, or just let people be adults and deal with it. I think that’s a know your crowd thing.

    One other thing I’ve noticed is that when people who normally eat meat, who eat a vegetarian dinner often will eat like 20% more than people who are used to eating vegetarian. Either because they think they need to in order to stay full, or because there is just a different fullness feeling when it comes to meat heavy meals and vegetarian meals. Just something you might talk about with your caterer if you are doing a buffet.

    • wannabee

      I agree with this. I would say I’d find going to a vegetarian wedding feast a delight, and a vegan feast less so. I am allergic to mushrooms, which shows up in a lot of vegan cooking (in my experience) so I sometimes have trouble finding entrees at vegan restaurants. It’s the couple’s call, but vegetarian seems to hit the sweet spot between “we are considerate hosts” and “we don’t eat meat, so why would we serve it?”
      (also would LOVE to be at any event with Mexican food as the mainstay, veggie/vegan or otherwise!)

      • Jenny

        Same, well I’m not allergic to mushrooms, but I can’t stand them. My best friend is vegan, and was vegetarian before that and while I never had a hard time eating veggie, I just can’t find as much vegan fare I enjoy as much (though Indian is the easiest).

        I would super happily go to any of the options I listed above (actually we did the salad, chili (one vegan, one meat), and baked potato bar for our wedding because it was the easiest way to get vegan, gluten free, and dairy free options for all of our guest, with out a lot of special things). But if we had been closer to a city with lots of catering options we probably would have done Mexican food.

      • S

        A few people here have made this suggestion (serve vegetarian rather than vegan) and I think a thing I’m picking up on in these comments is that meat-eaters kind of clump the two together/use them as thought they’re interchangeable/don’t really understand the distinctions between the two. I understand what you’re saying as someone who was a vegetarian for over a decade and is now a vegan (i.e it’s much easier for someone not acquainted with vegan food to feel comfortable about a vegetarian meal instead) but I thought I’d take the time to explain the nuances for those that don’t really know much about vegetarian and vegan diets. This suggestion is sort of like saying that someone who really wants a full Catholic wedding and is copping flack for it could just possibly settle for a reading of 13 Corinthians or a UU service or a Protestant wedding instead. (I hope that analogy flies – I’m not religious and don’t even know what any of what I just said really means.) Vegans and vegetarians don’t have the same belief systems. (Or, really, they kind of do at their core, but vegans kind of put all of their money where their mouths are.) Suggesting a vegan just split the difference and serve a vegetarian meal at their wedding is suggesting that vegans pay for a meal that isn’t cruelty-free, so for many vegans this suggestion is actually in line with suggesting they serve meat.

        • Amy March

          I don’t think anyone is confused about the difference between the two. It’s just a suggestion.

        • Jenny

          I totally understand the difference, as I think a lot of people do, and agree with your distinctions. I only mentioned it because the LW offered that as a possibility “Will we be jerks if we host a vegan or vegetarian wedding for omnivore guests.” I know that the title was about a vegan wedding, and that they say they are vegans. But the letter actually only mentioned that they were concerned about meat. My point was that if they are concerned about people pleasing, and open to a vegetarian affair (both mentioned in the letter), that it will be easier to do vegetarian. Obviously if they feel like a vegetarian meal is against their values, they shouldn’t do it, but they did mention it as something they were considering.

        • wannabee

          The couple in the letter asks about a “vegan or vegetarian” wedding. I definitely understand the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian, and I haven’t seen a comment that indicates that anyone else has conflated the two.

          • Ella

            I can see that people understand the difference between vegan and vegetarian, but the suggestion that vegetarian is a compromise between vegan and omnivorous suggests people don’t really get it.
            I would rather serve meat than dairy, and find one to be just as much a compromise as the other.

    • RNLindsay

      I went to a breakfast for dinner wedding and it was the best!!

      • I have always loved this idea! I would totally consider this for taste/preferences reasons (but I’m a vegetarian, so it’s work well for that too).Dessert receptions could also be a good option for vegetarians or vegans too.

  • idkmybffjill

    Hard no. You are not jerks. I am a believer that at one’s wedding, one shouldn’t have to worry about their own dietary restrictions. They should be able to eat with ABANDON. As long as you have options for those with other known dietary restrictions, you are SOLID. I would suggest maybe not even mentioning it if it’s buffet style, cause half the people will not even notice. But if you tell them it’s vegan they’l be like, “omg rabbit food” like real turds. I am an omnivore, FWIW – and vegan food can be DELICIOUS. If there is plenty served at meal time you are a-okay forever and ever amen.

    • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

      yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

  • Vanessa

    In response to the question are you serving food you & your partner don’t eat to please guests, the answer is no. We are accommodating vegetarians (no vegans invited, turns out), and people with religious and medically-based dietary restrictions. We are also only serving one kind of dessert, despite a couple of people not being able to eat it.

  • Kaitlyn

    Pasta! There are so many meat-free pasta dishes (that can be made with a dairy free sauce if you want) that your meat-loving relatives won’t even notice they’re eating vegetarian.

  • Rose

    You definitely can! I’ve been to one vegetarian wedding, which had by far the most delicious wedding food I’ve ever had. Personally, I’d find it more odd for friends I know are vegetarian or vegan to serve meat at their weddings. As long as you can accomodate known dietary restrictions of your guests (gluten-free, lactose-free, whatever you know your people might need, which is totally doable with vegan food), I’d say go for it!

  • Uh, a resounding hellz yes. It’s your wedding and should represent you and your partner. I think it’s probably wise to mention this on your site (something like “A mouthwatering vegan meal will be served,” so if people are concerned they can plan ahead and eat a little something. But hopefully they can come with open minds since meat does not a meal make.

  • penguin

    “How do I please everyone?”

    You don’t! Even if you served non-vegan food, and bent over backwards to try and make everyone happy… somebody would hate it, and somebody would find something to bitch about. You do you, and have awesome vegan food at your reception.

  • AmandaBee

    Nope nope nope. It’s common courtesy to feed your guests something, and it’s nice to consider their food restrictions when you can, but no one is obligated to violate their values to accommodate other people’s personal food preferences.

    I agree that your crowd night do best with food that’s “normally” vegan as opposed to, say, jackfruit BBQ. So if you want a middle ground, you could think of options along those lines. Though as an omnivore, I’ve had some damn good jackfruit BBQ.

    But ultimately, most of your guests are presumably adults so they can eat what’s offered or feed themselves a hunk of meat later on their own.

    • Thank you for mentioning jackfruit bbq! As a vegtarian, I have never heard of this and now I am so excited to try it. I love the bbq flavors, and make a bbq mushroom pizza, but this sounds really great to me…

      • Diverkat

        omg I really want BBQ mushroom pizza now. holy yum.

  • You are hosting a meal, you get decide what you serve at that meal! My suggestions as a vegetarian (mostly vegan) people pleaser:
    1. Let people know ahead of time what cuisine will be, as in “Please join us at our reception for a vegan buffet and dancing”
    2. Make an effort to accommodate other dietary restrictions if applicable — Vegan food can be heavy on gluten, soy, & nuts and if someone has an honest to goodness allergy it can be harder to “eat around” them then a meat dish. Likewise, if something normally wouldn’t have like, walnuts in it if it was meat (vegan meatballs etc.), ask your caterer to indicate ingredients that would cause severe allergic reactions
    3. Embrace that you are, in this specific instance, shoving your values down people’s throats just a little? But that’s okay, because basically every wedding makes some kind of loud statement about the couples values. Being vegan is non-normative and unpopular, but it is just as much your right to have your wedding reflect your values as it is anyone else’s.

    Good luck! Bet your food will be delish! ;)

    • penguin

      Agree on your second point. One of my friends is allergic to legumes (peanuts, beans, soy), and it would probably be hard for him to find something safe to eat at a totally vegan buffet. Not to say that they shouldn’t have a vegan meal (you do you!) but at least if he knew ahead of time then he could just eat beforehand. Also agree on labeling everything, and maybe ask about allergens/dietary restrictions beforehand.

      • Yeah, there are so many “off the radar” allergies and vegan food can make a lot of unexpected substitutions so I think allergy concerns are a little more relevant than they normally would be (though the former day-camp counselor in me is always worried about allergies, ha)

        • Yael

          So much yes to point #2. A lot of vegetarian/vegan food is not gluten-free and it makes it really difficult to eat safely! We’re going to have a vegetarian meal for our wedding but it does mean thinking the menu through! Someone else mentioned having paella at their wedding and I am now seriously contemplating this.

      • Eh

        I think this is an adult responsibility on the guest’s part to inform the couple of his allergies/food restrictions. I also think that it’s a good idea to have the food labelled but I think the onus here is on the guest to inform the host that they have an allergy. I don’t think that the onus is on the couple to announce what the meal is, but if a guest inquires the host needs to provide information (not necessarily details). The host can also ask about allergy/food restrictions (we asked on our RSVPs), but it’s still on the guest to tell the host and for the guest not to make assumptions that there will be food they can eat (especially since something like legumes, lactose, gluten can be hidden in lots of food).

        Note: I say this as a person with a food allergy (shellfish) who takes chances all the time not telling hosts of my food restrictions. I generally assume that people will not be serving only shellfish at meals. If I went to a wedding or other event and all of the good had shellfish in it (very unlikely), and I did not tell the host ahead of time that’s my own fault.

        • penguin

          My problem with this is that it would be reasonable to assume that someone with a legume allergy (peanuts/beans/soy) could find a good number of things to eat at a non-vegetarian/non-vegan reception, but at a vegan reception there might not be ANYTHING that is safe for them. I think the onus is on the hosts to just include a line asking about dietary restrictions on their RSVP cards (if they are having those). I’d hate to think that someone at my reception couldn’t eat anything because I hadn’t asked about food restrictions.

          • Eh

            I know people with legume, tree nut, gluten, lactose allergies that have to have their food prepared separately all the time due to the chance of cross contamination even when the food option don’t have those allergens in them. Also, those things can be hidden in lots of things (e.g., sauces, spice mixes) and my experience is that people with these allergies know this and are careful to ensure there is food (even at meals with non-vegetarian/non-vegan food) don’t contain their allergens.

            I agree that I wouldn’t want someone to not be able to eat anything at a meal that I am hosting because I didn’t ask about allergies/restrictions (hence why I asked on the RSVP), others might not feel that way, and it’s still on the guest to provide that information. As I said, I usually don’t because I assume there will be food I can eat. If there isn’t, that’s my fault. I don’t think that a host needs to go out of their way to tell people they are serving a specific type of food (especially something that they might get flack over) and follow up with guests to ensure that they can eat something. If they have a guest that they know has food restrictions they can follow up specifically with that person but that is not required, unless the person contacts them.

          • Ella

            Yes – but literally every wedding and catered event I’ve ever attended had a dietary needs line on the RSVP. Is this not the same in America?

          • penguin

            That’s what I’m advocating for – asking your guests for their dietary restrictions. I think it’s relatively common in the US but not universal.

    • scw

      was popping in here to say something similar to #2! I have a nut allergy and my big fear with vegan food is accidentally eating nuts. as long as the caterer marks things, you should be good.

      my husband and I are huge meat eaters and our wedding was almost entirely vegetarian. I think we had one pizza that had meat on it and that was it. it just happened that way–we actually didn’t realize until a few weeks after it was all over! if anyone noticed and was mad, we didn’t hear about it (anyone who would complain about that was probably already too irked that we were serving pizza at a wedding lol).

      so basically, you do you, just try to label stuff so people know. (as a vegan, you probably already know to do this from being in situations where you’re not sure if you can eat the food yourself.)

  • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

    We had a vegetarian wedding, and didn’t warn people beforehand. I’d say go for it. DO ITTTT.

    I was a bit peeved to hear later that a few people were complaining about the lack of meat. We served very familiar foods- veggie lasagna, vegan marinara mostaccioli, green beans, potatoes, salad and bread. People were full.

    I get salty when people bitch about vegetarian meals, because people eat them all the time.

    • idkmybffjill

      People LOVE to bitch. What a gift you gave them!

      I think this is a tactic that can be really generously deployed here. The type of people who gripe about vegetarian meals are the type of people who love to gripe. This is your gift of gossip to them. Now they will have the thing they love to complain about. You’re such a generous host!

      • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

        Ha, thank you for the perspective. To be fair, these particular folks should have had way worse things to gripe about, what with it being a liberal, secular ceremony :-)

  • You’re not a jerk for having a meal that suits your tastes! I definitely agree with sharing that the meal will be vegetarian/vegan so that folks can plan ahead, and also inform about nuts/gluten/etc. I’m a Primal/Paleo eater so while I wouldn’t love a carbfest, it wouldn’t kill me for one meal…or I could smuggle some jerky in my clutch, LOL. Seriously, everyone will be fine!

  • Lisa

    Our wedding had one pescetarian and one vegan option (and vegan rehearsal dinner) in a small town in the midwest, and it was fine. We opted for paella at the wedding, and everyone was really excited about the paella and no one complained about the lack of meat. We’re always figuring out options for ourselves at family get-togethers, so I figured out guests could be gracious for one meal.

    • idkmybffjill

      Mmmm paella.

    • Jess

      Wedding paella! I would not complain about that, either.

    • Amy March

      Whereas I can’t picture paella without chorizo and shellfish and think it would be a super noticeably meat free item!

      • Lisa

        The vegan paella had soy chorizo, and the pescatarian had all the shellfish but left out the meat. ;)

        • Amy March


        • Mrrpaderp

          Mmmm soyrizo. You know how everyone says going vegetarian is great for weight loss? Yeah they haven’t heard of soyrizo.

  • theteenygirl

    I agree with serving a vegan meal and not telling people it’s vegan. If the guests know you well know.. they won’t be surprised. You should be able to eat everything at your own wedding – that’s my philosophy anyway. Not the same but I guess the same line of thinking… but I don’t eat red meat (okay.. save for some pork every so often because I can’t shake bacon) and I am not serving red meat at the wedding. My FH’s family from Montana may not quite understand why there isn’t a beef option but I’m sure they’ll be fine with it for one night.

    • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

      We did a vegetarian wedding precisely so we could eat all the food there! (I mean, we didn’t eat all of it, as there is now a giant frozen lasagna in our freezer, getting freezer burned and taking up space.)

      • theteenygirl

        That’s alright. My parents still have the top tier of their wedding cake in the deep freezer. Keep in mind, they put it in the deep freezer the day after their wedding.. then MOVED the deep freezer with everything in it a few years later.. then got a new deep freezer last year and STILL kept the wedding cake.

        So you could be like them and keep a freezer burnt food memory in your freezer for 30 odd years.

  • MeepMorps

    I would think that if you are concerned try going for a vegan version of a food that people are familiar with. Vegan lasagna/pasta, tacos, etc. If it’s some style of food that people are more familiar with then they shouldn’t have an excuse to be concerned about unfamiliar food. Ultimately you’re feeding (mostly) adults who didn’t have to plan a big event. Honestly I think the fact that it reflects you makes it an awesome idea. You aren’t shoving veganism down their throats, all you’re doing is serving one meal out of the many meals of their lives.

  • philly!

    The best wedding meal I ever had was vegetarian (actually mostly vegan, minus a couple of cheese options). They key was that the food was super delicious (catered by Flea St Cafe in Menlo Park). I’ve found that people don’t care as long as the food is good (if it’s not, then they’ll complain that it was vegan, not recognizing that it was the equivalent of crappy chicken).

    I live in Philly, where there are a number of incredible vegan restaurants, widely considered excellent restaurants by non-vegans too. Some are clear that they’re vegan (Vedge, V-Street), some don’t shout it (Bar Bombon, Charlie was a Sinner), but I’ve never had anyone complain about the food not being good, even if they regularly eat meat.

  • Sarah E

    Delicious food is delicious food, full stop. I mean, you could make selections that will look or sound more familiar to folks for their comfort and to get them to try it. But once people have a taste and realize it’s good, they’ll stop asking questions.Personally, I’ve gotten to know and consistently buy from a gluten-free baker. I don’t have Celiacs and give no shits about gluten, his treats are just really damn good.

    • idkmybffjill

      I almost always reach for g-free cookie options (if they’re available in abundance/I’m at no risk of taking them away from the people who can’t have the alternative) because they’re richer. Yummmm sugar and butter. ha

  • Brooke

    As long as the wedding hosts (you, in this case) are not setting out to change all of your guests to vegans (you’re not) then I would definitely serve a vegan meal. We all have values and sometimes those values don’t align with those of others. We served alcohol at our wedding, and not all of our aunts and uncles drink. They were fine. I see the food as no different.

  • Capybara

    Personally, I’m an omnivore and I’ve never met an eggplant parmesan, avocado sushi or coconut cake I didn’t like, but if you’re worried about relatives hunting out the meat and getting into a snit if they don’t find it…
    1. Go heavy on apps. It’s hard to go on an “only meat will satisfy my hunger!” rage if you’re already half full.
    2. Salt, sugar, fat, and a splash of citrus or vinegar. When these things come together, comfort food is almost bound to result, with or without animal products.
    3. If you really want to take it to the next level, be vigilant about allergies. Someone who has to deal with serious allergies will be SO thankful you took the time to have food that’s safe for her (and segregate it from food with allergens to prevent cross-contamination).
    Don’t serve meat if it’s against your values just to avoid grown adults whining about their free meal not having their preferred ingredient in it.

  • CA

    FWIW, I would love to attend a vegan wedding. I think that would be awesome. No one is going to actually suffer because you didn’t serve meat (even if they gripe about it), especially if you make a point to choose “comfortable” vegan foods.

    That said, I wish we would have had the guts to commit to vegetarian but we did decide to take the people-pleasing route. FH and I are vegetarian in our day-to-day lives on the west coast, but when we go visit our families in the Midwest we usually just eat the meat that people inevitably serve us (which we don’t always mind – we do like it and it’s become synonymous with special occasions/family celebration). We had a longggg back-and-forth with the event coordinator for the restaurant doing our reception food about how it was a priority for us to de-emphasize meat (he did not understand why we weren’t putting their special homemade sausage on the menu), but we also didn’t want to make it A Thing.

    One thing that helped us find a balance was the option to do the meal family-style instead of plated or buffet. People will get a mix of things, they won’t choose a single entree in advance, but quantities will still be fixed unlike a buffet. This means that there will platters of the 2 entree options (1 chicken, 1 veg) served on each table, and guests will figure out for themselves whether half the people at that table will eat one entree and half the other, or (more likely) everyone will get a half serving of each. So if you want to be the person who disdains the vegetarian dishes and hogs the chicken from everyone else at your table, not my problem. We were able to choose a menu that is meat-light but includes a lot of different dishes and a lot of food that we’re really excited about, which makes it a lot easier to fight off don’t-you-want-another-meat-entree doubters.

    • Amy March

      My worry with this is that ok, not your problem if someone hogs the chicken and someone else goes hungry, but sucks to be the last person at that table being handed an empty platter? Personally I’d be flagging down a waiter informing them that we are out of chicken and need more because it would never occur to me that at a table of 8 you’d deliberately serve 4 pieces of chicken?

      I think it’s very different to deliberately serve not enough of one food than just deciding it is not an option.

      • CA

        I mean, they’re 8 person tables that will be full. of. food. (there are 4 hearty sides along with the 2 entrees). So the going-hungry thing seems unlikely. The chicken is also going to be in small portions for this reason. And at pretty much every table everyone will know each other, so we are opting to trust people to share like adults.

        • Abby

          I think as long as they’re cut in small portions (i.e. 8 small pieces of chicken for an 8-person table) you’ll be fine and the hogs can work themselves out. I do agree with Amy March that it would be weird to have things on platters such that people have to choose one or the other and fight over who gets what– as an omnomnomnivore ( ) I tend to see family style as “yay I get to eat everything!” and would be upset to not get a taste of everything on the table. but if everything is presented such that everyone can get at least a bite if they want it, you’re good to go.

          • JLS1012

            Agree with Abby and Amy — people will assume it’s fine to take a full piece of chicken or beef, they likely wouldn’t think of cutting it up and putting it back on the plate. I agree if there’s a way to cut it so there’s 8 pieces of chicken and 8 pieces of meat, not 4 and 4. I know, it sucks because it’s expensive and may be a waste of food, but I think that it’s better than realizing too late, after someone has taken a few bites, that, oops, they should have cut it, which makes them feel piggy and awkward.

          • CA

            Oh yeah, I would never expect guests to clue in to that and I am pretty sure the restaurant knows better than that too. They said they’ve had a lot of success with the family-style option before – it was their suggestion in the first place, not ours. We just thought it was a really good idea for what we wanted as soon as they mentioned it as an option.

          • JLS1012

            Totally, that makes sense! I think the initial wording was confusing when you mentioned “sharing.” I doubt anyone would take two pieces of chicken on a first go round, but of course might take one chicken and one beef if they are truly half portions!

          • CA

            Sure, I can see how that was unclear. All I meant was that there will some natural social cues to discourage filling half your plate with meat, but no one will be able to complain about the absence of it and definitely not about not having enough to eat.

            I’m happy we were able to figure out an interesting meat-light meal that’s pretty consistent with our food values, without making choices that would totally weird out the substantial small-town Midwest share of the crowd. (Although as everyone else has said, it would have been totally reasonable to do so if we had wanted to. But our wedding will already be enough of a culture clash for other reasons and for us it wasn’t worth it to add vegetarianism on top of that.)

          • CA

            Haha yes, this is exactly the concept! The point is that there will be a lot of varied dishes: gazpacho first course, then smoked chicken, creamy gnocchi, roasted vegetables, bean and grain salad, green salad with grilled catfish, cornbread. plus dessert. Divided by 8 people the sizes of each will just be slightly smaller than if you were getting a plate of chicken + bread + vegetable – but I’m pretty sure it will be more food overall.

            But I’m definitely now going to double-check with the restaurant that the chicken and cornbread at each table will be in at least 8-10 pieces…

          • Abby

            Ok, now I’m hungry. That all sounds super delicious!

          • Amy March

            I mean that sounds fine and also not at all like a situation where tables are going to have to decide who gets what!

        • idkmybffjill

          i think there’s a difference between sharing (i.e. – no one take two pieces of chicken when everyone who wants one hasn’t gotten one), and putting people in a situation where there’s not enough of the thing they can eat. I’ve seen alot of pizza parties where the vegetarians ran out of option cause alot of omnivores ate the cheese, which was their only option.

          • AP

            I officiated a wedding last year, and I was the only vegetarian so the couple set out a meatless lasagna for me among the huge barbecue buffet spread. It was literally the only thing I could eat along with the salad because all the sides had meat too (bacon in the potato salad and green beans, sausage in the baked beans…sigh.) I probably don’t have to tell you what happened…all the meat eaters took lasagna too! Thankfully a friend in line ahead of me noticed there was only one slice of lasagna left and snagged it for me. (A sign that the lasagna was for vegetarian guests probably would have prevented this though.) But this happens to me all the time at parties too- the meat eaters just double up on their entrees unless explicitly told that one dish is for the vegetarians.

          • Diverkat

            Story of my life. I’m not impatient enough to force myself to the front of a food queue, and inevitably the meat-eaters also take the vegetarian food so I’m left with sad lettuce garnishes and bread rolls. Boooooo.

  • Becky

    Yes, serve a vegan menu and don’t worry about it!

    I’m celiac and have to be gluten free and our entire reception was gluten free as a result. We got A LOT of flack during planning, but my fiancé and I really didn’t want to risk me getting violently ill at our own wedding so busybodies could eat bread.

    We stuck to our guns and many people didn’t be even notice the gf me I. So all of this is to say go for the vegan goodness, and know that the people who complain are going to find something to complain about no matter what you do.

    • Jess

      All our entrees/salads/some desserts were gf because I have a few very close friends and family members who eat that way. Our caterer was like, “We’ll just make changes to all of the entrees, that way nobody has to worry about getting the wrong item”

      Literally nobody who was not gf noticed, and those who needed to know were told ahead of time.

  • Rachel

    My partner and I catered a vegan friend’s wedding … We made some local, ethically raised pork for the meat eaters, and I made both “regular” and “vegan” cornbread, but everything else (kale salad, Mediterranean style dips, roasted cauliflower with lemon and tahini, giant quinoa salad with lots of veggies) was vegan. We prioritized the freshest, most local ingredients that packed tons of flavor and everyone, bride/groom and guests, was thrilled.

  • Carrie Hoffman

    I had a vegetarian wedding reception meal (I was just veggie then), and if I were getting married today I’d make it totally vegan, because now I’m vegan. My best friend and her meat-loving husband totally gave us shit about it as they were slamming ribs “to get ready” the night before. But our veggie taco buffet was amazing and made with love, and it aligned with our values. Most people loved it and nobody went hungry. Also, no one is morally opposed to eating vegetarian, so even the complainers can just deal with it for one night! I’m glad we stuck to our values.

    • I think something like a taco buffet could be a REALLY good option, because it lets people pick the tastes/ingredients that they like and feels comfortable to them.

    • Diverkat

      We did this too!!!! Taco buffet, and everyone LOVED the vegan chili/veggie mix that was the main filler. I had so much positive feedback on this.

      We also had Greek food in addition to the taco bar (veggie moussaka, lots of salads and hors d’oeuvres), so if people didn’t like the taco stuff they could choose Mediterranean. The wide variety meant all of our diet-restricted mates had plenty of options, and my husband and I could eat everything – which is exactly what we wanted.

    • Jess S.

      Agree – a lot of people want to say, “well, you wouldn’t serve only meat to vegetarians and vegans, so what’s the difference?” Vegetarians and vegans aren’t just “picky” eaters. They’re morally
      opposed to eating meat and/or other animal
      products. Sure, there are carnivores who don’t enjoy eating vegetables. I
      highly doubt I’ll ever come across one who is morally opposed to eating all
      vegetables, fruits, and grains. There’s a difference
      between being morally opposed to certain foods vs. not enjoying the
      taste of certain foods vs.
      having allergies or other medical reasons to avoid certain foods. It’s not all
      the same.

  • Cee

    Echoing the others to say you’re not a jerk! But I do wonder if a vegetarian meal might open things up a little (eggplant parm, a quiche, or a vegetarian enchilada can be a lot easier to satisfy meat eaters with if there’s cheese and eggs). Lots of bread and side dishes also help round things out.

    Also, little weird anecdotal thing with soy: my family and I can eat a very little, but anything in quantity like tofu, soy cheese, meat replacements, etc. is vomit city. My brother’s girlfriend didn’t believe it was a thing until she fed him vegan pizza and then spent the next night mopping his forehead while he threw up. Whatever you decide to do, please label things! Stealth vegan food, no matter how meat/dairy-like in taste, can be a disaster.

    • Amanda

      Minus 1000 points for your brother’s girlfriend. You do not just not believe people’s allergies.

      • Cee

        She’s one of those people who really does not understand that not all people can eat the same thing and be healthy (it has nothing to do with her being vegan, though; she’s mostly just kind of a jerk).

        • Diverkat

          UGH I hate those people. Not all gut microbiomes and immune systems are created equal!!! JEEZ!

    • Sarah

      Agree vegetarian is a lot more palatable

    • JLily

      As a person that could go into anaphylactic shock and actually die from eating tofu, I second this!!

      • Ella

        But if you could die from eating tofu, you are definitely going to let the host know that on the RSVP!! Plus, some people mix soy into things for various reasons so something being not-vegan is absolutely no guarantee that it’s soy-free.

    • Jan

      While I still think the LW should do whatever she prefers, I do think if she’s hoping to make this food thing Not A Thing by not announcing it, she should consider vegetarian over vegan. Especially if she’s a Midwesterner. In my experience, you can get away with a meat-free dish in the Midwest and people might be none the wiser, but no cheese in sight? On anything? IMMEDIATE RECOGNITION, ABORT ABORT.

    • S

      I posted this down below somwhwere, but I’ll just post it here as well: A few people here have made this suggestion (serve vegetarian rather than vegan) and I think a thing I’m picking up on in these comments is that meat-eaters kind of clump the two together/use them as thought they’re interchangeable/don’t really understand the distinctions between the two. I understand what you’re saying as someone who was a vegetarian for over a decade and is now a vegan (i.e it’s much easier for someone not acquainted with vegan food to feel comfortable about a vegetarian meal instead) but I thought I’d take the time to explain the nuances for those that don’t really know much about vegetarian and vegan diets. This suggestion is sort of like saying that someone who really wants a full Catholic wedding and is copping flack for it could just possibly settle for a reading of 13 Corinthians or a UU service or a Protestant wedding instead. (I hope that analogy flies – I’m not religious and don’t even know what any of what I just said really means.) Vegans and vegetarians don’t have the same belief systems. (Or, really, they kind of do at their core, but vegans kind of put all of their money where their mouths are.) Suggesting a vegan just split the difference and serve a vegetarian meal at their wedding is suggesting that vegans pay for a meal that isn’t cruelty-free, so for many vegans this suggestion is actually in line with suggesting they serve meat.

      • Cee

        That’s totally fair, but I’ll also say that, at least in my experience, this varies tremendously from person to person, as most food beliefs do. One vegan I know will cheat every once in a while with eggs and dairy, but would never eat meat. Another will occasionally eat fish for health reasons, but won’t touch dairy. (Yes, I realize that many would argue that neither of these people are vegan, but they both identify as such).

        People can be vegan for health reasons, ethical reasons, and/or environmental reasons, and so while the vegetarian compromise might be unthinkable to some, it could be absolutely workable for someone else. Either way, I think it’s a suggestion worth raising at least.

        • Ella

          I am one of those people that would argue that neither of those people are vegan, and even though they might identify as such, they’re probably not writing letters to advice columns about it. I think LW and her partner should stand by their values.

  • Mrrpaderp

    I’m really sad for LW that this is even a question. Of course you can serve a vegan dinner. Being a good host means providing a meal that everyone can participate in, not bending to every whim. Preferring meat with your meal is not a dietary restriction and does not have to be accommodated.

    My only almost-caveat is that vegan “meals” (in quotes because, no, restaurant-that-shall-not-be-named, grilled romaine without so much as a pine nut on top is not a meal) thought up by restaurants/caterers can be light on protein and fat, which means people won’t stay satisfied for very long. It’s really not hard to come up with a satisfying vegan menu, but you may have better luck and less frustration with a caterer that specializes in vegan/vegetarian food.

  • Harshitha

    We had a Indian vegetarian menu, and no one complained. Or they got a burger afterwards. Nearly half of the guests (including my parents and I) are vegetarian, and it’s not like the other half can’t eat the vegetarian food. If I get invited to a wedding to where only non-vegetarian food is served, I make do.

    It’s your wedding, and people will cope with the food for an day.

  • Alli

    1. Absolutely have a vegan wedding.
    2. If you’re looking for a vegan appetizer that’s omnivore approved, I always buy fried eggplant strips from Wegman’s when my vegan friend is coming over, and they’re like our favorite snack.

  • Eleni

    We did a vegetarian menu (with the exception of shrimp and grits for the die-hard “we won’t eat veg”) and everyone loved it! Our apps were stuffed mushrooms, fried mozzarella balls with marinara, and fried buffalo cauliflower wontons. We had a gnocchi dish, and eggplant rollitini and the shrimp and grits as our dinner options. People gave us crap beforehand but ended up really enjoying the food. You do you!!

  • april

    First off, you are never going please *everyone* – so just let go of that idea right now. No matter what you serve, there are going to be a few people who don’t love the menu, and that’s ok. It’s one meal on one day of their lives – they won’t starve. The only obligation that you have is to make sure there is plenty of food for people who do want it (there’s nothing worse than going to a wedding where the last table up to the buffet has to fight over scraps!). So choose food that you love, serve plenty of it, and enjoy your wedding day!

  • EF

    i am an omnivore and really like vegan food! we host vegan dinners all the time because we have so many vegan friends! do it do it do it!

    but one quick thing: i am a person who has an autoimmune disorder that makes lots of foods bad for me to eat, this is *especially* a problem with vegan menus. so if i were you, i’d be sure to make it clear ahead of time what the food will be and cater to the foods that some people won’t be able to eat for health reasons, too. but that’s doesn’t mean non-vegan!

  • ManderGimlet

    Serve whatever you want! Your guests are adults who have been graciously invited to a celebration of someone’s marriage and are being treated to a free meal. You can choose whatever you want for that meal! Obviously you want to try to accommodate food allergies, but refusing to have one meal without meat that they aren’t even paying for? There’s nothing wrong with being a good host, but there is something said for being a good guest, too.
    There’s nothing you can do to prevent people from kvetching if that’s their thing, but don’t feel guilty for not serving food that said guests can eat at literally any other time (or even during your reception should they be so gauche as to bring a rack of ribs or whatever). They will not starve, they will not fall victim to the vapors. If you have close (CLOSE! Like parents or aunt-who-is-like-a-mother close) family who are adamant about meat, see how much they are willing to pay for your caterer to supply a couple pans of roasted chicken or something to serve along side the vegan fare. If they are willing to pay, maybe consider making some room on the buffet table. But do not shell out your limited budget for food that under no circumstance would you eat yourself.

    • This reminded me that at at my dessert reception, my dad was really worried about their not being protein. There was already Brie and bread and nuts (and fruit as well for a healthy option), but he still really wanted little sausage things. You know, pigs in a bun or whatever? As a vegetarian I had to keep insisting that no I did not want pigs in a bun at my dessert reception. And though he was not happy about it, I think it turned out okay.

      • (And the wedding started at 8 pm and the reception was at 9 pm, so I never did understand why he was so insistent about wanting meat at something that was so clearly advertised as a “dessert soirée….

  • Amanda

    I’m sort of fascinated that this corner of the internet is so you-do-you. I’ve sought this answer on other threads, and it was like, “IF YOU DO NOT SERVE MEAT, THE GUESTS WILL EAT YOU INSTEAD,” like it’s the rudest thing in the world.

    But maybe that’s why I’ve been reading this site for years as a “pre-engaged” person and still enjoy it.

    • idkmybffjill

      Wouldn’t it be hilarious if vegetarians/vegans were as outraged by being served the burnt weird square of microwaved lasagna as omnivores (purportedly) get about being offered a robust vegan meal? Lol

      • Amanda

        I’m singing and doing a lot of the music planning for my bf’s cousin’s wedding and really just want to ask for a decent meal in exchange. When I do the music for my friends’ weddings, it’s like, “here’s your gift” and get kind of annoyed when I get something from them in return. But since doing this for strangers is generally a paid gig, and this couple is somewhere between complete stranger and family, I’m so happy to do it; but also kinda want to be fed.

        What I’m actually gonna do is get the job done and make sure bf tells cousin that we are vegan and hope for the best, then, ya know, not complain, because I’m a grownup.

        • idkmybffjill

          That’s sort of the thing that gets me real riled up (also I eat meat! I just find this so impolite!). Like…. if an omnivore goes to an all vegan event, barring food allergies all foods are edible to them. If they don’t like them it’s a taste thing and that’s fine – but they’re edible. To vegans and vegetarians, often choosing to go without meat is an ethical issue. And yet they’re the ones who have to be flexible! Even though the omnivores are not ever being asked to go without food – but my vegetarian friends have been to TONS of weddings where there was one vegetarian side and it was expected that that would be plenty for them. We had brisket and vegan tamales at our wedding, with all vegetarian (although not vegan) sides, because many of my friends are vegetarians and I cared about them having a great meal also! We visited one venue that said, “don’t cater to vegetarians” and I just said…. you mean my friends and family? Don’t cater to them? Hmm.

          • Jan

            Brisket and vegan tamales sounds like an amazing combination. Now I’m hungry.

            As an aside: I went to a gala once that was like $75 a ticket, and we ordered the vegetarian option for dinner, and it was literally just grilled tofu and bell pepper skewers. It wasn’t even seasoned with anything. Like, really? You know tofu doesn’t taste like anything on its own, right?

          • Amanda

            Omg, that’s when I want to be like, “Let me in the kitchen. I will fix this.”

          • Jan

            Exactly! It’s like, you do know you can cook just about any meal and make it vegetarian, right? It doesn’t have to just be bland vegetables.

      • Jess

        Or the plate of steamed veggies and rice that serves as a side for everybody else’s meat-filled meal?

        • Jan

          100% my vegetarian fiancé gets legit angry when the veggie option anywhere is just the sides of everyone else’s entree. He also refuses to pay full price at restaurants for a meal that originally had meat, but which was ordered without. Which, I get, but I’m also like, “bro, you need to take a pill”. It’s not the best, most patient part of his personality…

        • AP

          Uggggghhhhh SO many hotel ballroom work conferences! I can’t count the plates of steamed veggies and rice I’ve been served over the years. Also? This mostly happened when I was working as a dietitian, with OTHER DIETITIANS doing the meal planning and not considering vegetarian options. So aggravating.

          • Eh

            I used to be vegetarian, and this annoyed me so much. I was at a week long conference (at a resort, so I couldn’t even leave to get food) once where the side salad (which they offered vegetarians a full plate of) was the only vegetarian option for lunch and supper. Hmmm protein?

          • Amanda

            And those steamed veggies are always so mushy and bland.

  • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

    How do you please everyone? Dear lord, if there’s anything I’ve learned about weddings, it’s that you don’t.

  • Greta

    I just went to a vegan wedding this past weekend and it was a blast. The bride and groom are both vegan and come from midwestern families where it is not the norm. It’s one meal though, and it’s who they are. I think everyone expected it, and no one complained at all – the food was really good! I would have been shocked if there had been meat there because it is sooo not them. If people can’t go one meal without meat, that’s their problem. Also, and I can’t stress this enough – as a vegan you have to literally be accommodated at every single restaurant and wedding you attend, and I imagine there are times you struggle to find something you can eat. It’s your wedding, and you deserve to have a delicious spread of food of which you can eat every single bite!

  • Lawyerette510

    You are not jerks for hosting a vegan or vegetarian wedding. It is your dollars and you get to choose how to spend them. You don’t have to spend your money on meat or animal products if you don’t want to. You can have a delicious and fun celebration without meat or animal products, so go for it!

  • S

    Um…no. Announce it, don’t announce it, have a vegan buffet, have a vegan plated dinner. Do whatever you want. Seriously, people spend like 6 hours max at a wedding and they will survive eating a vegan meal. Vegan and vegetarian food is delicious, and if people arrive at your wedding and can’t manage to eat some extra veggies then they can have some cereal at home. It is like people that refuse to attend weddings without alcohol. You will live without a drink at a wedding. Your guests will live without meat. It astounds me that there would be people that are so uncomfortable moving out of their comfort zone (meat at every meal) that they couldn’t eat a vegan meal at a wedding.

    Obviously, some people really do have serious food allergies. Those people are normally pretty good at alerting the necessary parties, etc… So, do keep friends and family in mind that literally can not eat something you may be serving. Otherwise, people’s preference to eat a steak for dinner at my wedding would not trump my preference to serve vegan food.

  • Greta

    A friend of mine has some wide and varied food allergies – gluten free, lactose free and nightshade free. There’s a lot she can’t eat, including at most restaurants and weddings, and all she wanted for her wedding was a massive buffet where she could eat every single item. She got it, and it was all AMAZING food and not a single person complained that I heard.

    • Yael

      This is my goal for my wedding (for similar reasons plus kosher). I just want to eat fancy food without worrying about it!

  • Greta

    Maybe this is not a good analogy, but I have friends who got married who are both sober and have a long history with AA. They definitely did not have any alcohol at their wedding, nor did anyone who knows them expect any to be there. What they did have was a fabulous array of lemonades, iced teas, and fizzy waters that were all super delicious. You might hear a lot of people on the internet say “you can’t have a wedding without booze” but I beg to differ. I don’t think this is all that different – don’t have meat! stick to your guns!

    • penguin

      I like this analogy, and I agree. Also those drinks sound delicious.

  • Sarah

    Serve delicious, filling food and let people do what they want with it. There are hundreds of wonderful dishes that don’t have meat. Serve some of them. Don’t talk about it. Some people will complain about the food. If you serve meat, some people will still complain about the food. Some people will have dietary restrictions no matter what. Most people will just be happy to eat free food.

    People just hear “vegetarian” and freak out, which is stupid. Have people never had like cereal for breakfast or grilled cheese and tomato soup at lunch or pasta at dinner? OMG THAT’S ALL VEGETARIAN HOW DO YOU SURVIVE???? Vegetarian food is not weird or unsatisfying. It just happens to not have meat.

    Vegan can be a bit more limiting, but I still think it’s do-able if you focus on real, familiar foods (like a tomato and cucumber salad versus daikon tofu fakemeat tempeh whatever).

    • Jess

      Yes to the no “fakemeat” situation. Making vegan-fied versions of foods call for comparisons in a way that just serving food that is vegan doesn’t, and it usually comes up short.

    • I had a fancy grilled cheese the other day (made with the best cheese in Canada or something) and honey drizzled over it (so clearly not vegan!), and your comment made me envision a fancy grilled cheese reception… Yum!

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  • rebecca

    Ymmv but my midwestern family will eat just about anything covered in tahini even if it’s not an “everyday” food (or even one they’ve had before). People basically feel like they get to eat grown up peanut butter for dinner and it’s super filling (especially on top of something with sweet potatoes) what’s not to like?

    But it doesn’t matter exactly what you serve them, you’re fully entitled to a wedding that fits your values. I don’t eat meat, but it’s not a super important part of my identity or ethics right now. We’re getting married at a restaurant and they’re totally fine with doing one off veg/vegan/gluten free plates. I’m the only person who doesn’t eat meat and the veg option I liked was a really delicious but….kind of comically ugly root vegetable strudel so I’m eating that but it’s not one of our entree options bc for us, it was important to us to do some things that might make our guests less than comfortable (like having a non-religious ceremony) but offering vegetarian food to people who’d prefer meat or fish, when it wasn’t really where our venue shined, just didn’t end up being central. That doesn’t sound like it’s the case for you, it sounds like veganism is a really important part of the shared values you plan to share with your family on your wedding day. And there are totally “accessible” options that people will totally forget are vegan—butternut squash ravioli, some risotto, bean based Mexican food, the aforementioned things covered in tahini

    …but I also think, that at your wedding, you can ask people to stretch a little bit, and celebrate you and your partner for yourselve a little more than they do at say, Thanksgiving and that that might mean asking people to try something new.

    Fill your wedding with food that you love, make sure that it’s plentiful. If someone doesn’t have a wonderful time bc of the menu, it will only be bc they got in their own way.

  • Marie

    My husband and I had a vegetarian morning/lunch wedding with folk dancing and no booze. I think that changing the time of day helped reset people’s expectations, although we mostly did because we weren’t serving alcohol. People have said that our wedding was very “unique” and “us” (they used their compliment voices). While you can definitely have an otherwise traditional wedding and leave out the parts you don’t like, I think that making big visible changes that people don’t care about (time of day) helps disguise little changes that people care about mostly when they feel threatened (booze and bacon).

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  • reller

    We did this and it was 100% fine. I actually still have people come up to me and tell me how much they loved the food at our wedding!

    We had all vegetarian catering largely because I couldn’t imagine not being able to eat the food at my own wedding. We did not announce it on the invites or make a big deal about it.

    I will say that we put a lot of thought into putting together a menu with our caterer that would appeal to and be satisfying to the meat eaters on our guest list (for us this meant no fake meats or tofu, and dishes that were hearty). The food was served family style, and included a salad with roasted vegetables, flatbreads, a tart, and vegetable curry with rice. Since we knew several attendees had dairy allergies, we made sure to provide some foods and desserts which they could eat.

    While some might view it as selfish to base the catering decisions on my diet, I will say that it was pretty amazing to not have to ask any waiters what was vegetarian! And, I think our efforts to create a menu that everyone would enjoy were successful, so I feel zero guilt.

  • melanie

    I eat meat – but I love plenty of vegan foods, like french fries, fresh fruit, pretzels… find me omnivores that don’t like those things, I dare you! Have your vegan wedding, and as you probably would anyway, ask about dietary restrictions and accommodate as best you can. I wouldn’t announce it, but if you choose to, maybe announce it in the form of posting the menu on your wedding website. It will be one less thing for people to have an opinion about before it happens. And everyone loves french fries (or roasted eggplants, stuffed peppers, veggie strata, tacos, etc. etc. etc!)

  • tilbury

    whatever you do, make sure you have hot food! i once attended a wedding that only had cold salads. they were beautiful and included chicken and beef and it was an afternoon wedding and even thought the food was delicious i’ve never heard more complaints. i think folks would have been happier with a heartier vegetarian lasagna than the cold beef topped salad.

    • ART

      I have been to a few weddings at venues that do not allow fire/heating elements/etc so they have opted to have cold food, and I am pretty much in agreement here…for one of them, it seemed so bizarre that that particular food (chicken breasts, in my case) was served cold that I thought it was the fault of a lousy caterer. Later on, I finally saw the rather fine print on their wedding website (I HAD gone to the website, it was just incredibly busy with music on every page, so I didn’t read every word…) that it was “picnic-style” – that would have set me up for better expectations, but it was genuinely difficult info to find. I would opt to put it out there more conspicuously for anyone who does go the cold food route, as it’s an odd surprise (but ultimately can be ok, depending on the type of food and the expectations).

    • CP2011

      This reminds me of how my grandma would microwave her dog’s kibble every night because “it’s not dinner unless it’s a hot meal”.

  • Alexandra

    For pete’s sake, is hospitality so dead that we even need to have this discussion? It’s your party, serve what you want. The guests are in charge of their own food situation, whatever it might be. Part of the fun of receiving hospitality is eating something new and different. If you don’t get that, that’s your own problem.

    I went to an Indian wedding once. The whole menu was cooked by chefs that the groom’s family had flown in from a region of India that doesn’t get represented much in US Indian food. It was all vegetarian. Probably a lot of vegan options, actually. The food was different from anything I’d ever had, which was kind of the point. I didn’t like all of it. Some of it was pretty yummy. So…it was a wedding, not a restaurant. I was a guest, not a patron. I was a little hungry afterwards, so I went to a Taco Bell. It was an awesome wedding! No complaints here.

    If you’re vegan, for goodness sake serve vegan food. And stop worrying about what people will say. Easier said than done, I guess, but…just geez. If someone’s going to be a jerk about free food at a wedding, I mean, what kind of jerkiness is that?

    • Lexipedia

      I love this – “it was a wedding, not a restaurant. I was a guest, not a patron.”

      • Amanda

        It’s a really good point. I hate when people say, “If I’m going to write them a check for $X, I better get the food I want.” Ummm, no, you are not paying for the meal. You are giving a gift, and also you are a guest at a party. Veg*ns don’t give less money or a smaller gift when they are served a plate of lettuce, at least I don’t. It’s just separate.

  • Renee

    My bff had a vegan wedding. I don’t remember if she announced it, but I knew ahead from a combo of being in her wedding and knowing she’s vegetarian and her husband is vegan. My husband can’t wrap his head around why anyone would choose to not eat meat. I think he got a burger or something before or after their wedding.
    Point being, people can deal with food they don’t necessarily like and most people don’t attend a wedding solely for the food anyway. If they are invited to your wedding, chances are they know you’re vegan and I’d think it’s reasonable for a vegan couple to serve vegan food.

  • Liz

    We are having a 100% vegan wedding in August but are not announcing it as such (though most of our family and friends know us and our veganism). We worked with an Indian restaurant to do a big vegan delicious buffet with their typical vegetarian dishes and we got all vegan desserts. We also struggled a lot with this as we are people pleasers. We agreed to having some meat options at our rehearsal dinner, but ultimately it was most important for us to stick to our beliefs on this one and have the reception fully vegan. There is a restaurant across the street if anyone really can’t handle our vegan food and wants to leave us for 30 min to go get a hamburger but I don’t think that will happen :)

  • Leah

    As others have already said, have your vegan wedding! Complainers will complain about anything, no point trying to placate them.

    As with any wedding, I’d be asking for guests to advise you on dietary restrictions and allergies. My friend’s partner has a number of very particular restrictions, my cousin has a nut allergy, I have a number of friends with coeliac disease and all of these people would probably be limited in what they can eat regardless, but likely especially at a vegan-catered event where nuts and wheat-based things are used to bulk up meals.

    I guess it depends on your venue/caterer but most places should be able to come up with tailored meals for those people with specific dietary requirements.

  • Sara

    I think this is 100% fine to do. It’s not as if people *cant* eat vegan food in the same way a vegan can’t eat meat, etc. One meal in people’s life is not going to kill them … seriously. Just make everything transparent on the invitations and if people are that bothered they don’t have to come.

  • Kerri Tyler

    We’re hosting a vegan/vegetarian wedding. Here’s what we did: on the info sheet it said, ‘All food will be vegan/vegetarian; please let us know if you have any additional dietary issues.’ And here’s a pic of the RSVP. If people are that bothered by missing meat in ONE MEAL (our wedding is at 3pm so they can have a meaty breakfast and lunch)… I think they need to take a good hard look at themselves (and their arteries)! The wedding is all about you – your personalities, your beliefs and your love for each other – and meat has no place at your ceremony.

    • Kerri Tyler

      Also we are ordering pizza to come about 9pm… Veggie, but not vegan… but you could order late-night chips (French fries?) or whatever you Americans eat takeaway that’s vegan – baked potatoes? We are giving the kids vegan hotdogs, the boil-in-water kind. Dead easy and no one ever notices the difference. The caterers are very kindly doing those for us – we’re having tapas, with a vegan paella as the main attraction. Lots of bread and olives!

  • Amy C

    My opinion: have your vegan wedding! It’s a special time for you and your soon to be spouse, you should enjoy it! BUT this is my recommendation, there is no need to CALL it a vegan wedding, it’s just your wedding! Feed your guests all of the delicious items you decide on, let them eat and enjoy! Just like in Omni wedding maybe offer two entree options (both vegan) so there’s is choice…but there isn’t no obligation to label it “a vegan version of blah blah” at a normally reception you don’t see “vegan potatoes” or “vegan lettuce” so just describe it as it is, as any vegan would…real food! My only compromise I would be maybe not to use replacements or tofu, just more whole food options.

    My experience is that when you tell someone it’s vegan it gives them the time to judge it or decide they don’t like or want it ahead of time, or decide it’s strange without trying. Other than labeling allergens why say…vegan salad with vegan vinigarette and a vegan roll….when it’s just salad and a dinner roll? It gives them the opportunity to discriminate.

    I hope you make a decision that feels best and enjoy your day!

    • Amanda

      I agree the semantics between “vegan wedding” and wedding with vegan food can be important. It’s kind of like a little sibling to “gay wedding” and just wedding. Some people want to have the identifying theme; but some just want to be.

  • Amanda

    I went to a wedding with a vegan menu. I loved the food. The people I was with did not. Afterwards, we got burgers because some of our group wanted something they were more familiar with. But we still had a great time, and I’m always hungry after a wedding reception regardless.

  • Lexipedia

    Question given the number of vegans in this thread – I just got our list of catering choices and have to pick our three options. The vegan options that sound delicious to me (tofu steak with mango tamarind glaze) seem a little more… adventurous? than I’d like to have as our “official” non-meat option. There are more choices of pastas or risottos that are labeled as vegetarian-only that I think would be more palatable to the majority of guests. But, I have been told that they can make some really good single plate meals of food for our three vegan guests (out of 100). Would you be offended if you got a special meal that was tailored to you? Or should I push the caterer to propose more vegan options and make one of them our non-meat option for everyone?

    • Amanda

      A personal meal would never offend me. That tofu steak sounds awesome, actually. You’ll want to make sure both the staff and the vegan guests know that they have this plate, though. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t like to be that person at a wedding asking for something *else* than what has obviously been offered, especially since the usual response is a wincy look and a no, because weddings don’t really work a la carte. Then other people at the table feel bad eating, while I munch on bread, and I just feel so self-conscious. So I just don’t ask.

      But it’s always so great when I can say, “I’m one of the vegans,” and the server smiles and gets the dish. Even better when the server knows to look for us.

      Maybe your vegans have fewer anxiety issues than me, but that’s how I feel about it.

      • Lexipedia

        We have an online RSVP form dropdown thing, and below the place where you check the box for which meal you want I was thinking of wording the dietary restrictions question as:

        “If none of the above work for you, or if you have any other dietary restrictions, please let us know.” [Then there is a box they can write in, which can also be updated at any point until the RSVP cutoff]


        • Amanda

          That seems very reasonable.

        • I personally would just choose one of the options offered unless I had a food allergy, then I would share that. If there was a vegetarian option I would happily take it )pasta or whatever). Though the tofu mango dish is the one I’d take if I knew all the possibilities of vegetarian/vegan options.

  • Roxy Velez

    I am having a vegan wedding and people know it. We did not make an announcement. So maybe a couple won’t know. But there are enough things to worry about at the ceremony. Knowing the food will b great, seems enough.
    It is just obvious we won’t want to see death animals on a table when we are celebrating about love.
    And nobody will stay hungry. Vegan food doesn’t mean just salad, I am sure they will wish they have more space in their stomach to eat more. Because vegan food done by pros.(which will be) is always fantastic and mind blowing for people who think they would b hungry after it… ;)

  • LW

    LW here! These suggestions are all so wonderful–thanks to everyone who weighed in with a menu idea or an opinion about announcing/not announcing. I’m getting so excited to pick out our menu after reading about the different delicious foods that other vegetarian or vegan couples have served at their weddings!

    Weddings have a way of exacerbating the tiniest things. I didn’t even realize how silly the question “how do I please everyone?” is until I read it just now. I think I’ve been agonizing over the food issue to distract myself from how this massive (and completely ridiculous) question applies to the more major aspects of our [non-traditional, interfaith, budget] wedding.

    Thanks, APW community, for the wonderful reminder of what matters: staying chill, throwing a fun party, and starting a marriage!

    • Amanda

      Thanks for asking this! I took some notes too, to save for later.

      I think what I learned was variety is key, including variety among the allergen-free options, and that making ingredients really available is also important.

    • Diverkat

      We had such a wide array of both vegan and vegetarian food and if you’re looking for suggestions, let me know! I also have recipes because I catered my own wedding – but I wouldn’t wish that stupid decision on anyone :)

  • K.K.

    Hey! I’m late to the party so this may get buried but I have Feelings and a bit of Experience on this one!
    Two fundamental Feelings:
    (1) You get to have a vegan wedding. No ifs, ands, or buts.
    (2) Your job as a host is to keep *the vast majority* of your people *physically* content for their time with you. This means appropriate preparation and/or warning with regards to temperature and weather, bathrooms, noise, food, etc.

    How to best achieve (1) and (2) depends entirely on your people, but I’ll give you some thoughts from my experience.
    a. If you and your fiancee have both been vegan for ages (like, 10+ years) and everyone knows this, they should be prepared for your wedding to be vegan. A note on the invitation/website that says something about “a full meal of some of our favorite dishes” should more than suffice to tip-off most people without being shove-y. And then if they are like me they will bring a purse full of granola bars for their father. Of course, some might literally bring McDonalds in the purses (I have cousins I am slightly concerned might do something similar)…you have to decide how much that bothers you.
    b. I would err on the side of either *lots of warning* or *lots of guest control* if you go full vegan. As seen already on this thread and as I have personally experienced in my family, many people have unusual, often hyper-specific dietary needs that either aren’t allergies or are usually sufficiently easy to deal with for them vs the caterer that they don’t get put on wedding RSVPs. For example, my Dad is a Very Picky Eater. (I actually suspect a lot of it is digestive rather than taste preferences). He doesn’t eat most vegetables, or recognizable amounts of tofu, or most sauces, or cheese, etc. At a wedding-type event he might have a potato, a hunk of meat after 10 minutes scraping off all sauces/toppings, and maybe some undressed salad. Is it your job to cater to his specific, unstated preferences? No. Is it reasonable for him to think there will be some meat, somewhere, he can scrape to death and then get a couple hundred calories from? At most weddings, yes. He’s not one to complain if there aren’t things he can eat, but he has been known to eat 5 rolls, be sad and hungry, and want to leave very early. Which leads me to…
    c. What I would suggest food-wise *especially* if you aren’t warning people is that a significant dish is self-assemble so that people can decide what they’re comfortable with. Think fajitas/tacos/salad bar/gyros. People with the kind of allergies that are lethal will warn you, but the people who are picky or have sensitivities that might say something for a dinner party but not for a wedding will still be happy this way, and everyone will be able to decide how adventurous to be. Or if not that, if you have no one with extreme nut allergies (we do unfortunately), I personally can’t think of anything as universal as peanut butter and crackers as a filling side or appetizer option.

    tl;dr You don’t have to put money against your conscience! You don’t have to serve what other people would have served! But taking steps to not leave people with different food cultures than you grumpy from hunger (or in the bathroom with indigestion) is totally doable and will make everyone happier.

    • Amy March

      I guess, but honestly if you go hungry at my party because you’re picky, oh well. I just feel no sense of responsibility towards that as a host. Actual needs you tell me about? Absolutely. Personal fussiness you rightly don’t share with me? Just don’t care.

      • idkmybffjill

        Same. In my friend group we have one picky eater and two vegetarians. The vegetarians are unilaterally easier to serve food too. The picky eater is picky no matter what (her preference would be chicken nuggets and mac and cheese for every meal forever), so we all just kind of… let her choose what she wants to eat at parties and get mcdonald’s on the way home if she needs to.

      • Violet

        If we take judgment out of it (“vegan snowflakes” and “picky eaters” and “meat lovers” and all the rest), this comes down to preferences. What that means is the host gets to decide what their preference is, and the guest can take it or leave it. Just as plenty of vegans eat food that is abysmal because others haven’t taken their preferences into account when menu planning (sad side salad as main, for example), sometimes picky eaters will eat five rolls. Whoever’s hosting calls the shots.

      • K.K.

        I feel like as a host I would rather not have my father’s page-long list of what he will and won’t eat when he knows that in 95% of situations he will be fine, times 100+ guests. If he has previous information that this is like to be one of those 5% times, he can adult (or I can adult for him) and plan accordingly with a peanut butter sandwich in reserve.

        It feels a lot to me like a ‘no stilettos in the forest’ situation I saw discussed here recently. Some people will get the hint from a statement that it’s an outdoor wedding. Some need to be told more explicitly. Showing up in stilettos does not mean I am incapable of walking a half mile on a rough gravel path, it means that I reasonably projected my expectations of the environment and planned accordingly and I was wrong. I don’t see why you would want to put your guests in that situation.

        If you’re doing something physically out of the ordinary that your guests might not expect, either provide a warning or alternatives.

        • Amy March

          You don’t need to provide a warning to serve vegan or vegetarian food to accommodate preferences though. And no, I wouldn’t want your father’s list because I’m not interested in accommodating preferences versus needs. It’s already hard enough to figure out how to feed a big group of people!

          • K.K.

            Yes, I think we’re in agreement on that?

        • penguin

          I agree. I think it’s the “warning” wording that some people are disagreeing with, but it comes down to the same thing. Just let your guests know what to expect generally at the wedding, and they can plan around it if they need to. I think it’s an easy way to be a good host.

      • Eh

        I have no tolerance for catering to the wants of picky eaters at large events; you just can’t make everyone happy. I have a friend who eats three things: breakfast burritos (at any time of day), spaghetti and meatballs, and hot dogs. We have her and her husband over for supper a few times a year (they were over this week and brought the fixings for breakfast burritos) and we usually have spaghetti and meatballs since I know she will eat it, or if we are having a BBQ I make sure there are hot dogs for her. I have been to weddings with her where she has barely ate anything (including a five course meal where she only at the pasta course, and only after scrapping off as much sauce as possible). I’m not even sure what she ate at our wedding since we didn’t have anything she liked. She knows she’s picky. She is also an adult who can go get food for herself.

      • NotMotherTheresa

        I mean…yes and no?

        Personally, this is why I’ve always preferred buffets over plated dinners at things like this. As a host, can I plan for every possible dietary and taste contingency? No, because that’s impossible.

        The nice thing about a buffet, though, is that there’s almost always *something* a person can/will eat, and by doing it buffet style, the picky or restricted eaters can have unlimited amounts of whatever that one thing is that they’re willing to eat. Dad doesn’t like any sauces, dressings, or vegetables other than potatoes? Fine, he can have an entire plate of mashed potatoes! Cousin Jane is vegetarian? She can fix herself a salad that’s bigger than her head! Don’t like chicken? Load up on the pasta that you do like!

        No, you can never please *everyone*, but I do find that buffets make it much easier for everyone to find *something* they can fill up on, which means we’re all happier!

  • Do it. I would guess most of your guests know that you are vegan, and won’t be entirely surprised by a vegan reception. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a teenager, and my partner for a bit longer than we’ve been together. We choose to eat a mostly vegan diet these days.

    We are in the “what might a wedding look like” dreaming/planning stage and know two things for sure: no meat and no Jesus/religious doctrine. Its really part of who we are, and our friends and family know this. We love to cook, so most of them have eaten some really delicious vegan food at our house and know they won’t starve. Lots of our friends have food restrictions by need or by choice, so I imagine we will also list ingredients, and at the very least label the big allergens for folks.

    Its your day, spend your money in line with who you are, and what you value. Its one meal, the people who don’t like it will do what the rest of us do when we can’t eat at a function. Find a few things you like, and grab a pizza on the way home.

  • Sarah

    Serve delicious food and no one will dare complain (to you).

  • AGCourtney

    It looks like a lot of helpful advice has already been given and I won’t echo it, but I just wanted to say that I’m a MN bride, and we did a baked potato bar and people loved it.

  • Abs

    I’m not sure why there seems to be an assumption that not announcing the menu as vegan means keeping it a secret. We did pizza at our wedding, and everyone knew it would be pizza–we just led with that, not “vegetarian food”, and everyone was like oh, awesome. Absolutely let everyone know what to expect, but talk about what the food is, not what is not in it.

  • Elizabeth (Plant Based Bride)

    Have a vegan wedding! My husband and I did and no one commented on it/complained. We had a buffet with a bunch of options and tried to pick familiar/filling foods. We got so many compliments and so much positive feedback about the food and we got to have a day without animal products with all of our friends and family. It was amazing! No one should expect you to pay to kill animals for them if they care about you. Just my two cents!

  • CP2011

    I’m not sure how far you are into planning, but if you are open to alternate arrangements, you may be able to sidestep the “vegan dinner” by doing the reception at a time that doesn’t assume a full meal. Vegan hours d’ouvres (I may have misspelled that; phone tried to autocorrect to “horse pervert”!) and a well stocked bar might be easier and more cost effective, and you avoid the issue of people being upset about not getting a “real” dinner (hypothetical midwestern complaint).
    Another idea might to offer some vegetarian options in addition to the strict vegan ones, which might be more palatable for some people who are accustomed to traditional Western wedding fare.

    • Diverkat

      upvoted for horse pervert. 10/10 autocorrect!

  • Jess

    My partner and I are vegetarian and we had the same problem!!! People Have really pushed back against our decision to have a vegetarian wedding BUT 1) I don’t ask anyone to change what they serve at their wedding for me and 2) I’m not serving anything crazy or weird that no one will like. We are having yummy food like mac and cheese, great fall veggies, cheeses, etc. people will find something to eat and have fun. Heck, lots of vegan stuff tastes great and people don’t even notice it’s vegan unless you tell them! It’s your day!!

  • I’m broadly in camp “just don’t mention it” but at the same time, I think the people you’ll most help by saying it’s a vegetarian wedding are your fellow veggies and vegans. My partner and I, omnomnomnivores, took our veggie gluten free friend out for dinner a while back to one of our favourite restaurants. She’s there poring over the menu for ages, and we’re getting worried because what if she doesn’t like indian food, when suddenly she looks up and says “wait, I can eat all of it?” She’d been looking for the little V to see which dishes she should be considering, which wasn’t there because it was a vegetarian restaurant – it just didn’t advertise itself as such (Bundobust in Leeds, if anyone is interested – Indian street food that happens to be all veggie, mostly vegan and mostly gf, including the beer). Another commenter gives an example below of making a vegan dish and not advertising it only to realise afterwards a fellow vegan had been avoiding it. So maybe don’t put it on the invites, but reach out to people you know will benefit most from your choices?

  • Mjh

    I’m all for the couple have a purely vegan wedding/reception. I get the people pleaser aspect, but like most wedding things, someone won’t be happy no matter what you choose, so I think they should go for it.

    I’d put a quick line about it in the invitation/RSVP card/whatever. I think the couple doing what works for them and people knowing what to expect is the fairest option. I’m trusting they know their people, and if they think their people are likely to feel like they need some meat in their systems, I think it’s best if the guests know so they can just down a burger beforehand and spend the wedding focusing on celebrating the couple instead of feeling blindsided and grumpy/hangry. I definitely don’t think meat is necessary, but the guests sound like people who do, so I think telling them lets them take responsibility for themselves and hopefully knowing that can let the couple breathe a little easier.

    I’m a vegetarian and my husband isn’t. I often pregame a bit before weddings unless I happen to know I’ll be well provided for (weddings I know are serving veg/vegan exclusively, and Hindu weddings usually have enough veg stuff, whether or not the couple is vegetarian). Husband eats something before going to weddings he knows will be vegetarian only (he still feels hungry after veg meals) or otherwise not work for him. Neither of us has ever complained to other guests or whatever about what is or isn’t served. I feel it’s the couple’s right to do what they want, our responsibility as guests to manage ourselves, and it’s nice if the info from the couple helps steer us in the right direction to do that.

  • thetreekisser

    I’ve been looking forward to my vegan wedding for longer than I’ve known my fiancé! When else will I have the chance to make 150 people eat a gourmet vegan feast? I look at it as subtle activism. Many of these people would never go to a vegan restaurant or experiment with the cuisine at home, so they might not know how incredible and decadent it can be. I’ve allocated a big portion of my budget to the food, and I’m actually flying in the chef I used to work for in LA (he’s a genius) to partner with a local catering company in Denver, where I’m getting married. I’m lucky in that many of my friends and family members are already vegan, so I’m comfortable knowing how excited they’ll be. I really don’t think any of your guests will be annoyed, as long as you don’t feed them cliche vegan stuff like quinoa cakes and hummus. If you find the right chef/caterer, you can really surprise and educate people! I’m sure you’ve gone to weddings where you couldn’t eat anything, or where the vegan option was just grilled vegetables (I’ve been there…nothing hearty to soak up the cocktails…total recipe for a hangover), so I don’t think it’s in any way uncool for you to ask your guests to skip animal products for ONE night. The way I look at it, a dinner with that many people usually requires dozens (at least) of animals to be killed, and judging by your question, it sounds like that would be painful for you. You don’t want to feel like mourning on your wedding day!

    As for whether or not you tell people in advance, people will have varying opinions on that as well. Personally, the “details” card in my invitations have a line saying, “Out of respect for the planet and its inhabitants, no animals will be harmed in the making of the evening’s cuisine.” Most of my guests would already assume it’s going to be vegan (because they know my fiancé and I) but some may not, so I did think it was wise to give them a heads up. If you need inspiration, I attached a screenshot of the first draft of the menu my chef is creating :) Good luck!

    • Sounds delicious! And I love the idea of mini grilled cheeses over shots of tomato soup!

      • thetreekisser

        I’ll admit I stole that idea from Pinterest! Of course my chef will have to figure out how to do it, either cashew cheese or something like Follow Your Heart slices. I always hear that brides are too busy talking to eat the food, but I refuse to let that happen to me!

        • Yeah I ate all the food at my wedding. Plus, it’s super easy to get appetizers at your own wedding (if you have them being passed by people) because the servers notice you when you look like you are headed towards them (instead of being just a guest). The only limit on the food that I ate at my wedding was that my dress had lots of structure and boning so I physically wasn’t able to eat as much as I wanted (because there wasn’t any room for my stomach to expand) but that just meant I ate a reasonable amount of food instead of every last (delicious) bite.

  • Another Meg

    I completely agree about not mentioning the food is vegan. I do think a high-protein meal will help people feel satisfied. (not necessarily a meat substitute, because no one is fooled with those, but maybe black beans on the salad or chickpeas or something to help people feel full)

  • Christine

    yes. it’s your day.

  • Briar Gillard

    A jerk?? No! As is often said on APW, you’re inviting people to a party that you’re hosting and paying for. They can just be grateful and enjoy the celebration of your marriage. If you’re providing the food, I think it can be whatever you want it to be. Would you serve meat appetisers at any other party you host? I went to a vegetarian wedding last year, and I’m still thinking about the halloumi and stuffed mushrooms a year later – delicious + plentiful = happy guests.

  • Rom Caitlin

    As vegetarians planning a wedding, we have the same issue to consider. My partner tends to allow meat at her birthday parties because she says she wants to accept other people’s differences. I don’t allow meat at my birthday parties because as I say “You don’t go to a Muslim friend’s house and expect to be served pork”.

    When it comes to our wedding, we are asking guests to bring food instead of gifts. We want it to be a community wedding, and it’s a cost saver too. So, I’ve conceded that it’s fair enough if they cook meat dishes.

    However, if we were providing the food, I’d go vego for sure. You are not asking people that much by having one meat free meal. Do something delicious, they will be fine. Meat eaters are often surprised by how much they enjoy a really good vego meal, even if they wouldn’t like all their meals to be that way. In the end, you shouldn’t have to be surrounded by people doing something you disagree with on your wedding day. If they truly love you, I think they will respect that.

  • Diverkat

    To answer the question: No you are not jerks. The end.

    I too am a people-pleaser, and my husband and I fretted over the meat/no meat possibility of our wedding food, but in the end we served a vegetarian/vegan wedding, and if anyone was bothered by it, they didn’t say so to us. My midwestern, meat-eating family was fine. My MIL, who wanted to die on the hill of “but people will not be happy with vegetarian/vegan food” ate her words and said so in her speech. You are not obligated to please everyone at all times and ensure your wedding is nothing less than 100% satisfactory for anyone other than you and your partner. Besides, with a group of more than 2 people, you’ll find that NO ONE will ever be 100% satisfied with every choice you make (i.e. too many speeches, not enough speeches, no first dance, a first dance, etc. etc.). So stick with your convictions, and don’t put yourself out of shape and compromise on something that is really important to you just because you think you *should* please others. They will be pleased by so many other things, like decor or booze, or nice vows, or a gorgeous outfit, or great music! And one vegetarian/vegan meal isn’t going to kill them. They have 869,423 other meat-filled meals to enjoy for the rest of their lives if they want. You do you!

  • lady brett

    late, but i wanted to chime in that it’s no big thing. we are not vegetarians, but our wedding was. honestly, i’m not sure people noticed. the food was great.

    and a thing i have noticed with my rudest carnivorous friend is that if we talk about the food, he’s generally grumpy about the contents, but if we don’t he usually eats happily. it’s like the *idea* of meatless meals is offensive, not the food itself.

  • Grace

    I think you could do the vegan wedding but stay away from fake meat products. I think tofu is fine people are used to that. You can do a great vegetable based meal with mushrooms and risotto and polenta or something and people will love it. When you start getting into the “meat replacements” i think is when meat eaters get turned off. Also, would you consider having some meat treats like a chartuterie table as part of your cocktail hour and then serve a vegetarian entree? That seems like it could be very elegant and then you wouldn’t be paying for too much meat.

  • quiet000001

    As long as you can still accommodate reasonable dietary restrictions (ex my mom can’t have soy so a meal with soy products in everything wouldn’t work well for her, or someone with a nut allergy needing to know to avoid things like nut cheese that might not obviously contain nuts) then vegan is totally fine. And by accommodate I mean as much as you would at a reception with meat – if someone important has dietary restrictions it’s generally reasonable to make sure they can eat something, you know? (Like if you were someone I really wanted at my wedding – rather than a family must-invite-but-hope-they-don’t-come-anyway type invite – then I’d totally talk to my caterer about making sure you knew what was vegan friendly or that you got a vegan meal, whatever made sense with the rest of the food service.)

  • Kelly

    You are not a jerk, do it!

    Late but still wanted to comment, as our vegan wedding was just last month! Both my husband and I have been vegan for a 4+ years. Some notes:

    – Go for multiple tastings with caterers to find someone who can really do vegan food well.
    – Ask to see examples of vegan menus they have done and don’t be afraid to ask if they can do a vegan version of any dishes you have in mind.
    – We were willing to splurge a little for delicious vegan food – there’s nothing worse than boring/bland vegan food.
    – Offer familiar apps and dishes with ingredients that just happen to be vegan.
    – We didn’t mention on our RSVP card or our website that it would be a vegan buffet, and I actually only had one person ask me what food would be served before the wedding. Anyone who knew we were vegan told us they assumed the food would be vegan.
    – We didn’t want to deal with finding a vegan wedding cake, so we had a bunch of vegan round cakes from a vegan bakery.
    – People loved our food, and no one complained :)

    Here is what we served:

    Passed Hors D’Oeuvres
    – Mini Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Crème & Fresh Pico de Gallo
    – Grilled Portabello Mushroom atop a Citrus Rice Cake with Crunchy Vegetable Slaw
    – Vietnamese Summer Roll with Avocado, Papaya, Fresh Mint, Mai Ploy
    – Traditional Indian Samosa with Mango Chutney
    – Chopped Salad Bruschetta with Black Olive Tapenade

    Dinner Buffet:

    – Roasted Vegetable Ravioli with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Sauteed Spinach & Caramelized Fennel
    – Grilled King Oyster Mushrooms and French Green Beans Salad
    – Roasted Heirloom Rainbow Carrots
    – Maine Oven Roasted Multicolored Potatoes with Fresh Rosemary & Sea Salt
    – Mixed Baby Lettuce with Summer Berries and Toasted Almonds with Champagne-Shallot Vinaigrette
    – Crusty Rolls and Italian Baguettes with EVOO

  • Jess S.

    There’s a lot of great feedback here. I wanted to share that I was in the same boat as you, and I chose to have a fully vegetarian wedding for 120 guests. My husband and I were both vegetarian at the time, and we decided we wanted to keep with our values. We worked with our venue to provide what we thought was a “normal”, fall-themed buffet: butternut squash bisque, dressed up mac & cheese, caprese salad, individual veggie pot pies, eggplant torte, roasted veggies and potatoes, green salad, rolls, cake, bar, etc. Since we were going buffet-style, we didn’t let anyone know in advance, except our parents that were splitting the reception cost with us. (I wanted their okay since it was their money, too, and they were fine with it.)

    We knew our guests pretty well. Having dietary restrictions ourselves, we regularly paid attention to that sort of thing with our friends and family. We felt confident that everyone would be able to find something to eat. They were no “sneaky” ingredients like there might be in vegan food (cashews, for example). Aside from our values, it was very important for us to do buffet-style for three reasons:

    1.) Everyone could pick and choose what and how much of it they wanted, which we thought would be a less-forced, friendlier approach to vegetarian food
    2.) We were hoping for less wasted food, since guests would be choosing their own food
    3.) A buffet didn’t require us to advertise anything about the menu in advance, so we could avoid pre-wedding criticism/jokes

    I heard a LOT of compliments from our guests. My dad, who kept joking that he’d need to have the chef make him a secret steak, found plenty to eat and was very happy. People are still bringing up how delicious the bisque was even though our wedding was five years ago.

    My husband and I are both vegans now, and I would absolutely do a vegan buffet if I re-did our reception at this point in time. I agree with the folks that said to carefully label items, especially those that may have surprising ingredients. Definitely make sure to include an option on your RSVP for dietary restrictions (even if it’s a buffet). Any caterer should be able to make a few special meals for more restrictive diets as needed.

    You can’t 100% please everyone, but you can do your due diligence to try to make sure options that adhere to both your values and your guests’ needs are available. Not everyone will love all of the food, but not everyone loves chicken, steak, and scrod, either. (I’m sure some guests secretly complained about our food choices, but I’ve heard lots of people talk about what’s too dry, too rare, too well-done, too salty, too cold, etc. at other weddings and events. There’s always something someone won’t like.)

  • As an avid meat-lover, I say roll out the vegan menu!

    If you’re worried people won’t feel satisfied without meat, I would recommend you go generous on the fat-and-salt-rich dishes and go for filling and flavour-rich ingredients – lots of flavourful bean- and legume-heavy salads and dishes, rich greens like purple broccoli and asparagus and well-treated spinach, and plentiful familiar carbs.

    Oh! Also, if you avoid dishes that meat-and-dairy eaters would usually drown in grated cheese, people will be less likely to notice the absence.

    Meat often takes a central place in celebration dishes as something to show off. But a good savoury pie, or some roasted squash, provides both something to act as a visual centrepiece, something to carve and something substantial to centre the meal around.

    But honestly, it’s your wedding and your menu. It’s your chance to share the life you’re building together with the people you love. Although I will always recommend making alterations to allow for religious restrictions, allergies and dietary sensitivities where possible, you do need a limit. Or else you’ll end up running a menu with 20 different main options.

  • Ford_Prefect313

    Have your vegan reception, but announce that nuts, peanuts and soy will served. I have anaphylaxis to those items, and would be furious to find out a good chunk of the dishes contained them, and I didn’t know.
    Nothing kills a party like someone turning blue and EMS carting them out during the main course.

    What I do when someone has a vegan wedding, is go to the service and skip the reception. The venue usually charges by butts in the seat, so the couple getting charged $75/plate when I’m drinking a glass of water is stupid. The cross contamination issues is enough for me to dodge eating. I also do this for a very heavy shellfish/mollusk menu. Anaphylactic to them too.

    When it’s a family member who just has to have everyone there for a group photo, I leave, and come back after the dinner is done.

    I have also seen people order out pizza and “tail gate” in the parking lot when a true all vegan menu was a “Oh h*ll no.” I think that is beyond tacky, but it’s hard for a bride to see an few empty tables and find out 25 people are eating in the parking lot.

  • Sarah

    Minnesotan meatlover here. Have the vegan wedding. The people going to your wedding know you (…so they already know you’re vegan, so it should not be surprising that you’re serving a vegan meal) and love you. They’re celebrating your happiness, so they want you to be happy!

    Real Minnesotans are paying attention to the bar, anyway. 🙂

  • Dena

    Hi! I grew up in Minnesota, and we got married in Kansas City! On the opposite side of the spectrum, we had BBQ at our wedding, with no vegetarian option (except for sides), knowing that some relatives/friends were vegan/vegetarian at our wedding. It’s what we wanted, and we figured the guests that couldn’t/wouldn’t eat the meal could find something in the sides, or beforehand or afterwards (we let them know in advance). Having said that, I do think if you are going to go in a direction that many may not be familiar with (my cousin had a vegan meal at their wedding reception shortly after our wedding in South Dakota), that the food is fundamentally good. I think most people would be fine with vegan/vegetarian meal options, if it has great flavor (like maybe it’s your favorite vegan butchery in MN, tell a story of what made you fall in love with it, so they can open their mind to it?)! And if you let them know (either on the invite, or another way), then it’s up to them to find something if they don’t think they’ll like it! It’s your wedding, you should do what you want, and agrees with your beliefs! I would just make sure you have an idea of the number that will eat it, so you don’t end up with a ton of leftovers (or overpay if it’s a seated dinner!) :) :)

  • Staria

    Go ahead and plan the loveliest vegan catering you can imagine. I say this as a person who eats meat under medical advice, having formerly eaten vegetarian a lot over the years. I can survive two meals without meat and I agree with other commenters who have said have lots of bread, nice roast vegie salad, pasta, lots of desserts. People have dry weddings and everyone survives! I insisted on a 90% gluten free wedding for myself because I have to be gluten free (again medical advice, it’s an actual allergy) – the only thing with gluten was the pizza bases (and we had gluten free pizza bases as well). And, I catered very specifically for all dietary requirements at my wedding: we had about 10 vegetarians, two vegans, two dairy-free, two nut allergy people, and three other gluten-free. The two people with multiple dietary requirements (vegetarian, gluten free and honey allergy; dairy free, gluten free, grain free), and some of the others raved to me about how looked after they felt – our head caterer found them all and made sure they were fed well.

    I go on about my own example in depth to show you that everyone survived eating gluten free, so they can definitely survive without meat and cheese for a day.

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