I recently came back from my cousin’s wedding in Co. Donegal and, as a vegan, I had a wonderful time. But I think the main reason I enjoyed it is because I made sure to let the bride and groom know that I’m vegan ahead of time. This is important, and I think even the newest of vegans know they can’t just saunter into a wedding expecting to get a nice meal without letting anyone know about their dietary requirements.
As soon as I RSVP’d to their invitation, I let the groom (my cousin) know that I’m vegan and asked whether it would be possible to get a vegan meal instead of what would definitely be meat/fish. It’s Donegal – a county that eats meat quite heavily – so I knew if I didn’t say anything I’d be LUCKY to even get a vegetarian meal. Always ASK, you have nothing to lose!
Another issue to take into consideration is the big gap between the ceremony and the reception. Make sure to pack a little bag of snacks to tide you over, as sometimes you can be waiting hours and hours while the new couple take pictures. At the wedding last weekend, the ceremony ended at 2pm and we didn’t eat until 6pm. There were sandwiches in the lobby and some shortbread and caramel squares, but I couldn’t eat any of those. That’s where the packed lunch comes in handy! All you have to do is sneak off to the car and eat, then come back. Or, if you don’t mind a few strange looks, you can bring it in with you.
In regards to alcohol, you can ask what wine is being offered at the tables ahead of time or you can drink whatever is offered. Some vegans believe that making a big fuss about every tiny little thing being vegan at the table can deter others from being vegan as it makes the lifestyle out to be very difficult.
At the end of the day, we want others to go vegan, we WANT them to be curious (in a good way) and to try it out. What we don’t want is for others to walk away from what might be their only experience with a vegan thinking that it’s impossible to practically be a vegan. Do what you think is best at the time, but don’t be afraid to be a little flexible when it comes to something like a glass of wine offered at the table.
I was lucky to have an absolutely gorgeous vegan main at the wedding I went to. I didn’t know what to expect – and I thought I HATED aubergine – but it turns out I was totally wrong and it was delicious. Depending on the hotel, you might get something as simple as a stir fry, but chefs will probably try to come up with something a little fancier than that as it’s a wedding. Either way, embrace whatever it is. You may be surprised at how much you like it, even if it’s made with veggies you don’t usually like! Beggars can’t be choosers 🙂
If you’re in the precarious position where you’ve been told a vegetarian option is the best they can do, you can decide yourself if that’s acceptable to you. You could accept that and maybe when you get there you can ask that they leave any dairy (like cheese) off the dish. Or you can just eat beforehand and join the reception when everyone else has eaten. Melon is something that is usually always on offer in hotels as starters, so chances are you’ll be okay there, and a lot of the time vegetable soup is made without dairy, so make sure to ask about these. Plus, you may end up with a nice vegan dessert if you ask for a fruit salad. Don’t be afraid to offer suggestions to your waiter. The worst they can say is no.
Once the meal is over, you can dance the night away and order vegan drinks at the bar. Make sure to have Barnivore.com available on your phone so you can check in real-time, or memorise some brands that you know are vegan-friendly ahead of time.
Regardless, make sure to be polite and thankful towards the couple who are trying to accommodate you. Always ask, but don’t be demanding about it because at the end of the day, this event isn’t about you. I was able to get a vegan meal in one of the most rural counties in Ireland, so I’m sure if you’re from anywhere else, you’ll be just fine!