For me, 2013 will always be remembered as the year of weddings–not because I tied the knot (ah hem), but because I spent quite a bit of time as a guest or the maid of honor at my friends’ weddings. There was a lavish Indian wedding on Long Island; a posh modern-meets-colonial affair in Hong Kong; and a dreamy vineyard wedding in sunny Sonoma valley (complete with dancing under a full moon! sigh). None of these gorgeous weddings were vegan, and my friends were kind enough to make sure that I won’t feel deprived–and I’ve definitely been at weddings where I sat hungry and cranky, eating waaay too much bread. Here’s how to plan a vegan wedding so that your guests won’t experience the same pain in reverse–a gracious and welcoming way to let your guests enjoy themselves without compromising your vegan beliefs.
1. It’s absolutely okay to have a vegan wedding.
Don’t let your dad, mother-in-law, or anyone else convince you that insisting on a vegan wedding is selfish and stubborn. First of all, this is one day out of your life that is dedicated solely to you (and your husband, but whatever). And are you asking your guests for their firstborns? No, you are asking your friends and family to give up…eating meat and dairy for one. meal. Contrary to the myth of the militant vegan, I most often find that vegans are the most accommodating, flexible, and least demanding people, staying quiet at other people’s weddings when the pasta comes covered in cheese, and eating the bread dry, afraid to ask for olive oil instead of butter. When it’s your own wedding, you should feel free to go 100% vegan, and firmly let any naysayers know that it’s important to you.
2. …But don’t look ridiculous, either.
You probably shouldn’t ask your guests to do a three week vegan cleanse before the wedding, like this attention-seeking bride, Rainbeau Mars. For some reason, this “celebrity health and fitness guru” found it necessary not only to email her guests about the cleanse request (which is ridiculous, to say the least), but had her publicist email Huffington Post with the story. Earth to (Rainbeau) Mars: Stop exploiting veganism for your shameless self-promotion, and we don’t want you on our team.
3. Plan a vegan menu with a caterer and a vegan baker.
This is where you can let your imagination run free. Make sure that your entree choices include both meat alternatives (vegan “chicken” piccata, barbecue seitan, or vegan “beef” Wellington) and vegetables (like stuffed bell peppers, portobello “steak”). And here’s where you can go full throttle with vegan versions of crowd-pleasing pastas. If your wedding has a fun, casual feel, how about vegan mac n’ cheese in single-serve ice cream cups? Get plenty of vegan desserts to spread around the wedding cake, and everyone will find something to love. (And here is an organic vegan wedding cake from Sugar Couture in Brooklyn. Classic with a hint of romance. Love!)
4. Ask your guests to RSVP with their entree choice
When you’ve decided on the menu, make sure to include the menu option on the RSVP card. This is a subtle way to let people know that you are having a vegan reception. Use enticing descriptions to get your guests excited about their food, rather than nervous: “Vegan chicken piccata with cashew cream, caper berries, and grilled spring asparagus or Almond-crusted portobello steak with roasted fingerling potatoes,” for instance. (Here is my vegan entree from the California wedding–stuffed roasted red pepper with asparagus! Look at the edible flowers!)
5. Use re-purposed materials from invitations to decorations.
Veganism is so much more than just not eating animal products–it also extends to all aspects of sustainable living, including reducing waste and recycling as much as possible. You can hit two birds with one stone when you pick up vintage frames, lanterns, plates, table cloth, napkin rings, and silverware at your local second-hand store. Ask your florist if your flowers are coming from relatively local farms, since a lot of flowers are imported from South America. And don’t forget to get invitations printed on recycled paper.
Photo: 123rf.com; Peaceful Dumpling