How to Plan a Vegetarian Wedding Reception Meal

A vegetarian wedding buffet spread of food.

Vegetarians get married too, even though they represent less of the population than omnivores. While some vegetarians may choose to serve meat at their wedding reception because of carnivore family and friends, many want to showcase their values at the wedding by not caving into popular menu expectations. Even if some people are worried that a vegetarian meal would not be traditional enough for a typical wedding celebration, it’s completely possible to have a great time at your wedding while introducing people to the delicious and filling vegetarian diet.

Find a Way to Let Everyone Know

Whether you make the invitation “plant themed” or just put a little note that the meal will be vegetarian on the RSVP card, it can’t hurt to let folks know that the meal will not include a meat choice. Meat is still fairly expected at wedding reception meals, so this heads up can help people not overreact at the event itself. Fundamentally, however, the surprise is almost always a bigger deal than just eating a delicious, well-prepared vegetarian meal. In an ideal world, a vegetarian meal wouldn’t raise any eyebrows, but given the many different kinds of people who may be attending your wedding, it might be a good idea to just give them a heads up. For a small, well-connected wedding, it may be unnecessary or possible to mention your vegetarian feast by word of mouth.

Use Your Favorite Foods

Baskets of vegetarian wedding appetizers.

When your values are reflected in vegetarian or vegan food, you have your own favorite things to eat. That might include really wonderful fresh veggies prepared well, or some meat substitute products that add savor to your dishes. Why not put your best taste bud forward and include some of the things you like best on your wedding menu? Filling out your menu with the food that you and your partner actually like to eat is a wonderful way to ensure that even newbies to vegetarian cuisine will enjoy the food. A great vegetarian food caterer will be able to incorporate your top dishes into the mix.

Also Include Some Recognizable Favorites

Someone helping themselves to some potatoes at a wedding vegetarian buffet.

While seitan, tofu, and quinoa may be daily fixtures of a vegetarian diet, it doesn’t hurt to include some items for those who don’t want to be adventurous eaters. Many popular vegetable dishes, casseroles, and side dishes are actually vegetarian, so build your menu around both your favorite vegetarian cuisine and also a few hearty sides that everyone will recognize. Green bean casseroles, macaroni and cheese, and roasted potatoes may not seem like fancy dishes, but they are delicious when served fresh and hot, and they will be easy to identify by any guests who are cautious of foods they’ve never tried.

Expect (and Ignore) the Protein Worry

Dishes of vegetarian appetizers for a wedding.

At some point, many vegetarians encounter the question, “Do you get enough protein?” The answer is, overwhelmingly, that vegetarians get all of the nutrients they need. However, try not to be thrown off by people who ask if the vegetarian meal at your wedding will have enough protein. They will be impressed and surprised by how full and content they feel after the meal. Ultimately, this is a case of differing opinions just like many other aspects of wedding planning. The best thing to do is to stay positive with your family and friends even as you reassure them that they will get plenty to eat and might even find a new favorite food.

Be Gracious but Firm with Objections

If someone has the need to actively question your choice to serve a vegetarian meal, it will probably be someone close to you or your soon-to-be spouse. There’s no need to start a fight about a few vegetarian entrees, so do everything you can to explain how much the meal represents your values. Once you’ve given your explanation, be kind and clear about the fact that you aren’t changing your mind. Even if people are traveling a long way to be at the wedding, you are providing them with a meal, and a wonderful one at that. Try to get anyone who seems hung up on this point to simply move on by discussing another fun detail of the wedding and shifting to opinions about decor, music, or scheduling instead.

Ultimately, many people who try a vegetarian meal for the first time really love it, so even very traditional family members are likely to rave about your vegetarian meal. As with anything that is a little different from the tradition, there may be one or two who resist, but most likely your guests and bridal party will be talking about how delicious your vegetarian reception meal was for years to come.

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