I was re-reading an etiquette book from the 1980’s. Nothing in it discussed what to do when vegetarians marry but their parents are paying for the wedding and want to serve meat. And the Pandemic has also changed the way weddings are held. Yes, times have changed so much! So here’s an updated version of the advicesisters’ Classic Wedding Double-Take) two opinions for each question Q&A. I hope you like it and I welcome your comments.
Tammy writes: “Mike and I have agreed to get married in the formal ceremony that both our parents want. But we are strict vegetarians, and it’s causing a lot of anxiety and fighting among us all. My parents want a formal sit-down dinner (e.g. roast beef and steak etc.). Mike and I don’t eat meat at all but my mom says we have to serve non-vegetarian food. She keeps saying: “I can’t serve your relatives just tofu and vegetables.” We agreed to forgo the casual celebration we’d prefer out of respect for our parents, but we draw the line at purchasing and serving animal parts! What about respect for what WE believe and want?
Jessica’s Take (she is deceased. As her twin sister, I edited her original comments– I think she’d approve):
It’s great that you care about your parents’ feelings and want to make them happy and I’m guessing neither set of parents are strict vegetarians. You could tell your parents that you’ll have the formal ceremony, but draw the line about serving food to your wedding guests that you would not only not eat, but actually shun. Y
On the other hand, you don’t have to serve “tofu and vegetables” either. There are so many plant-based substitutes these days. Or, you could strike a compromise and offer vegetarian options and along the meat. After all, you do want your parents and their guests to feel comfortable with what is being served, don’t you?
Change the Reception Plans:
Let me remind you that this is not the only meal you will ever have together…just one of the thousands you will have. If you really feel that you meat is a no-go but you eat fish, for example, serve a pasta dish and a fish dish which makes the cost cheaper as well. Or scrap the elaborate dinner (during the pandemic when I’m editing this no one really wants to be that close in a big room even if it is allowed in your area).
Just have a cocktail reception where people can social distance and still toast you with finger foods like cheese, crudites, vegetarian sushi, and other non-meat or shellfish appetizers.
A wedding is a public affirmation of your love for each other, but the reception is the party both sets of parents have dreamt of giving their children. Your ability to compromise is the solution to this problem.
Compromise is the best solution to many wedding situations. But haven’t you already compromised enough by agreeing to a formal ceremony and reception instead
of the casual event, you really wanted? I also don’t think you should serve food that violates your beliefs and your lifestyle.
However, you are not paying for the party, and your parents are footing the bill and should have the final say. But, on the other hand, your friends and family already know that you are strict vegetarians and probably expect at least some vegetarian food to be served at your wedding.
Pasta and Fish?
Jessica’s suggestion to serve a traditional pasta dish and fish could please everyone. Add a hefty dessert bar. If your parents won’t accept pasta instead of pork, and tofu instead of turkey, I’d offer champagne and cake and nibbles after the ceremony only and save your folks a bunch of money. As Jessica mentioned, during the Pandemic a lot of people really aren’t going to delight in being crowded together at sit-down tables, anyway
On the other hand, if there is no compromise on either side, I wonder why you’re agreeing to a formal wedding ceremony you don’t want and a reception that violates your beliefs. I personally would consider eloping.