Can You Have a Vegan or Vegetarian Reception?

Food is one of the biggest decisions you have to make for your wedding reception. And if you are a vegan or a vegetarian, the decision takes on a whole new level of complication. Is it appropriate to stick to your dietary restrictions and impose them on your guests, or should you accommodate to your guests and go against some really important principles that you have? Can you have a vegan or vegetarian reception, and if so, how do you do it without alienating any of your wedding guests? Here are a few tips for navigating these important questions.

First, Remember that It’s Your Wedding

Your wedding is a reflection and celebration of you. You chose the font on the invitations because it was your style. You chose your wedding dress because it fit what aesthetic you were trying to go for. You also chose your partner because they were who suited you best. The same principle should also apply for what kind of reception you want to have. If leading a strict vegan or vegetarian diet is something that is completely integral to who you are, then by all means, have a meatless wedding. Stick to your principles, and don’t buckle just because you feel pressure from friends and family who are more carnivorous to serve meat at the reception. Every bride and groom chooses the menu for their wedding reception, so why should yours be any different?

Make Sure the Food Is Delicious

Catered reception food

Many people who are not vegetarian or vegan just assume that they won’t like anything without meat in it, but often it means that they are just not very open minded eaters. When you host a vegetarian or vegan wedding, ensure that the food is extra delicious and that you can convince even the most carnivorous of guests that meatless meals aren’t so bad after all. Usually when the food is exceptionally great tasting and well prepared, many won’t even notice that meat isn’t present. Go with menu items that are approachable and not too exotic for those who aren’t used to eating tofu or eating soy cheese on a black bean burger. Choose a menu that is full of flavor and universal: pastas, breads, salads—and of course, great desserts.

Choosing to Serve Meat: What and How to Choose

If you are a vegetarian going to a friend or family member’s wedding, it’s likely that you’ve had to check the veggie friendly box next to your RSVP. Some vegan or vegetarian brides and grooms may think it’s appropriate to return the favor to their meat-eating friends. (Some do not—and that’s completely okay.) When you want to serve meat at your wedding, consult with your wedding planner or caterer and ask them what kind of meat options you could provide your guests with. Try to do something simple like a taco bar or pizzas with topping choices for meat eaters and non-meat eaters.

Just Serve Dessert and Champagne

Dessert and champagne

If finding a vegan or vegetarian menu that will satisfy everyone is proving to be difficult, consider the option of just serving dessert and champagne during the reception. Not only will it be more economical, but it’ll also save you the headache of trying to make everyone happy with a big meal. The cake is probably about the only thing that no one will complain about at a wedding reception, so why not make it the star of the show? Make sure that your guests have plenty of dessert options like extra cupcakes, pies, or cookies. Also ensure that your wedding is at an appropriate time so that they can grab dinner or lunch before or after your reception. Inform your guests ahead of time that they will not be served a full lunch or dinner during the reception, but that dessert and champagne will be provided.

Understand that Some People Might Complain

Just like other wedding decisions (like choosing to get married outdoors in July, choosing to host a dry wedding, or doing a non-denominational service), hosting a vegan or vegetarian wedding may ruffle a few feathers. Some people may not understand or know why you’ve chosen to serve a meatless meal when the majority of attendees eat meat. This may make them more likely to complain about the reception, but this is just something you’ll need to let roll off your back. It’s important to understand that some guests will think they have a reason to complain about everything. At the end of the day, they’re supposed to be there to see you and celebrate—not to eat a five-course meal of their choosing. If they’re truly unhappy with the spread at your wedding, then they can roll through the drive through at the end of the night and order whatever they like.

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