Weddings are a very tough social engagement to partake in — for everyone. But an extra layer of awkward is frosted on top when you’re a vegan attending a non-vegan wedding. (Please invite me to your vegan wedding.)
IF YOU’RE A WEDDING GUEST…
Obviously pack a few snacks in that little clutch of yours. A couple of protein bars can make all the difference when all you’re given to nibble on is a small salad without dressing.
When you send in your RSVP, you should indicate that you need a vegan meal. If you don’t feel that the couple will happily make these arrangements for you, ask yourself why you care enough about these people to attend their wedding. If this is a colleague’s wedding or you’re someone’s plus one, you may not be able to request a vegan meal at all. This is even more reason to eat before you arrive to the ceremony venue, even if you aren’t hungry.
Keep in mind that most wedding parties spend an hour or more taking photos between ceremony and reception. Not all Brides are well-mannered enough to provide the traditional cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres. So you could be looking at a lot of hours before you’re able to eat anything. I attended a wedding once where the Bride stood on the church steps, after we had all gone through the receiving line, and announced that the reception was in 3 hours at a hotel several blocks away. She seemed to think she was softening the blow by sharing that there were plenty of bars between there and the church. When the guests all gasped at her disrespect she snapped, “well we’re going around town to take photos”.
Don’t forget to stash something at the hotel for a post-nuptials gorging. Depending on where the wedding is located and the timing, there may not be any restaurants open when you’re finally able to slip out of the reception. At minimum, attending a wedding is a five-hour commitment, but likely much more when you factor in getting ready, travel time, waiting for the ceremony to start, the ceremony, waiting for the reception to start, the reception, and return travel. You’re going to be hangry at least once.
Even if the well-intended Bride orders a meal for you, it’s likely not going to be filling, won’t be protein-rich, and is usually soy-based or pasta. That’s not going to keep you energized for a four-hour reception, dancing, and the post wedding travel. Several times, I’ve sat at the table, with nothing in front of me, repeatedly answering the concerned questions of my tablemates, wondering why I hadn’t been served, only to have the server announce that a vegan meal had been ordered for me and they would bring it out after they’re done serving the “normal dinners”. So I strongly suggest packing something you can discreetly add to your plate at dinner.
At another wedding, when presented with a platter of hors d’oeuvres by a server with some questionable bruschetta on it. My question of “is that vegan?” was met with “Oh, I don’t know. Vegan is really hard.”. I shrunk with embarrassment, as I turned to the sassy vegan lady I was standing beside who took the reigns for me. She snapped back at the apathetic 19-year-old boy who had just slighted me with a “Oh yeah, it’s so hard to not kill and torture animals”. Like many times before that moment, I wanted so much to trade in my timid-uptight-politeness for her unapologetic boldness.
Cake time is always depressing. Everyone has their modest little slice to accompany their coffee with milk that should be in the belly of a baby cow, instead of the powdery water they are forced to consume in a dark dirty pen miles from their Momma. And we vegans have to inform the parade of waiters one-by-one trying to set the cake down in front of us that we’re “all set”, even though it’s all a lie. The truth is that we want to shove the full slice into our face and snatch up any unattended piece within a three table radius. But we don’t, because we think about all of the animals that suffered for this animal sacrifice.
At the last wedding my vegan husband and I attended, he stopped off at a bakery on the way to pick up gluten-free vegan cupcakes. Which we delighted in sharing with the other vegan/g-f attendees. It lifted morale, as we all felt like we won a little.
Doves/Horsedrawn Carriages/Rice Throwing – Thank god, I’ve never been to a wedding that included these barbaric animal exploitations. I think at this point, everyone knows not to throw rice and if they don’t, politely inform them before it happens. If doves are being released and I noticed in time, I would do my best to pull someone in-charge aside to politely explain that it is a death sentence for the birds. If they proceed anyway, I would leave with my gift and share the reason with the bride and groom, after their honeymoon. It’s a real conundrum that I hope I never face and have empathy for anyone put in the position of having to decide between standing idly by while an animal is mistreated or being that “asshole who ruins” someone’s wedding.
IF YOU’RE IN THE WEDDING PARTY…
Pack meals. It’s gonna be a long-ass-day, or weekend depending on how intensive the event is. More and more couples are choosing to have “wedding weekends”, which means far more prep and difficulty getting yourself fed.
The wedding outfits can be tricky. Some Brides may push you to wear a dress with silk or leather shoes, which means the risk of triggering Bridezilla when you decline. It’s best to lay out what your guidelines are when she asks you if you’ll be part of the wedding party. Don’t say “yes” when asked just because it’s “her day”. Have a real conversation with her (or him if you’re part of the Groom’s side). Talk about expectations and get them to commit to what they tell you. Explain that you won’t wear or eat animals.
If you’re expected to plan a Shower or Bachelorette/Bachelor party, let them know your stance on animal product involvement. Maybe they will be cool with it being vegan or maybe someone else can handle that part so you don’t have to.
IF YOU’RE THE BRIDE OR GROOM…
Getting married is a lot of work. I get it. You’re stressed about money and feel like you’re running out of time to get all of your plans organized and in place. You’re also likely planning a honeymoon, maybe dieting, dealing with overbearing parents and soon-to-be-inlaws, accepting that your dream wedding is beyond your reach, moving/buying a house, and all of the regular life stuff, but you also need to make sure that you are taking care of your guests.
You’re asking people for their time, which isn’t a small thing. Many people will have to spend money to travel to your wedding. Maybe they will need to use vacation time to attend. Maybe they have to pay a sitter for their pets, kids or house. Traveling also means paying for lodging and meals. There is also the cost of the gift they give you (maybe an engagement gift too) and they might need to buy an outfit for your wedding as well. It’s easy to think of the wedding expenses all being drained from your account, but according to bridalguide.com the average wedding guest will spend $539 to attend your wedding.
So if some of those guests have dietary needs, you must make sure they are taken care of. When you invite someone to your wedding, it is as if you are inviting them to your home. If you invited a friend to your house for dinner, you wouldn’t just ignore their needs. So when you send out those RSVP cards, make sure that you ask guests to send you their dietary issues. Then talk to the chef/caterer directly about those needs and get real information on what they will be served. Make sure it fits their needs and will fill their tummy.