Parent’s Survival Guide To The Texas Vegan Wedding

From Parent to Parent, I wholeheartedly empathize with how you’re feeling. Anger. Irrational and unreasonable children. Self-centered. Virtually impossible. Guests will talk about how hungry they were for years post-wedding. Relatives will refuse to come once they find out the food is vegan. Not only a miserable event but one with the same price tag as a fabulous event. Refusal to pay for a vegan wedding. Will only pay for a small intimate immediate family vegan wedding dinner. An absolute breach of proper etiquette for not putting the comfort level of your guests first. The devastation from losing the dream wedding you’ve fantasized about since the birth of your beloved child.

It was over a year ago when my daughter and her longtime boyfriend who I love dearly filled my heart with joy when they announced their engagement to me. It was one of the happiest and most exciting days of my life. I was the mother of a bride and future mother-in-law of a young man who I adored. I was floating on air, my head spinning with thoughts of flowers and satin ribbons and music and printed cocktail napkins… that was short-lived.

D-Day

The day the mother of the bride became the mother and future mother-in-law of two vegan tyrants.

“We want to have a vegan wedding.”“Well of course- and I will make sure that the caterer prepares the finest vegan wedding dinner for the two of you.”

“Thank you. I’m certain you’ll make sure that the caterer prepares the finest vegan dinner for all of our guests as well.”

“But my darling, your guests aren’t vegans.”

“Mother, no animal will be sacrificed in honor of our wedding. The food must be vegan.”

“My precious child, not only do I understand how you feel, I respect you for it but for non-vegetarians vegan cuisine isn’t considered food and we have our guests to consider.”

“Mother, my first consideration is to sparing the life of an innocent animal, not whether someone considers vegan cuisine actual food.”

“But my darling, your guests will be hungry.”

“Mother, then my guests will be hungry in honor of our wedding. We insist on a vegan wedding and will not compromise.”

“Sweet child, your wedding doesn’t excuse you from your obligations as a host. No matter the occasion, whether you host one person or a thousand, your obligation is first and foremost to the comfort level of your guests.”

“Mother, the wedding must be vegan. The Friday night welcome/rehearsal dinner must be vegan and the Sunday farewell brunch must be vegan.”

“My beloved daughter, I cannot deny you; I never could. I promise that your wedding weekend will be catered vegan cuisine because I love you. I also promise that I will have every meat serving food truck lining the entire block outside of each venue every day of your wedding weekend.”

“Mommy! No animals can be harmed. It’s wrong!”

“Little girl, your mother has been a vegetarian for over three decades and my vegetarianism is as deeply ingrained in me as my sense of etiquette. There is no way in hell that I’m going to hold 230 people vegan hostage for a wedding dinner let alone an entire wedding weekend. If you refuse to compromise then you have no choice but to have a small wedding dinner with close friends and family who will lovingly tolerate your strict dietary restrictions.”

“Fine. We’ll have a small close family wedding dinner.”

“You would do that to me? We’ve talked about every last detail of your wedding day since you were three years old! Nowhere in all those years were plans made for a small gathering of a few friends and family wedding dinner. Vegan cuisine was never a detail, either. Are you really going to take this away from me? From us? Our dream wedding?!”

“Yes.”

“Oh, my god, where did I go wrong parenting you? I’m certain Emily Post would agree that I raised a spoiled, ungrateful child.”

Twenty-Two Hours of Hard Labor To Bring My Beloved into This World and This Is the Thanks I Get!

I realize that there’s a wide spectrum of the level of attachment one has to their child’s wedding. My level of attachment to my daughter’s wedding day was at the high end. The horror after the vegan bomb was dropped on me was something like a Stephen King novel. I was horrified, devastated, traumatized and furious. We didn’t speak to one another for about three months.

I called everyone I knew and let them know that I had raised a crazy child because who in their right mind would think it reasonable to hold guests vegan hostage. My daughter was extra crazy because her wedding was being held in New York City where maybe twenty-five of the guests actually lived while the other 220 guests were flying in from around the country. If we were on speaking terms I’d have advised her to seek psychiatric help. I thought about what her mental disorder might be, maybe narcissism? I knew that if I asked 200-plus people to take on the expense of airfare, hotel rooms, gifts, outfits and miscellaneous, and then forced them to be vegans for an entire weekend rather than showing my gratitude by doing everything in my power to make them comfortable, I’d find the nearest rock and crawl underneath it. Not my daughter, though. Since we weren’t on speaking terms I decided to seek professional help for myself with the hope I’d receive advice on how to guide my daughter back to planet earth.

Mother Resorts To Mental Health Professionals For Clarity

I didn’t know a psychiatrist- I only knew that she had to be in close proximity to my home and female (which was sexist but at the time I figured that a woman would commiserate with me better than a male). I found my female psychiatrist and went to see her. I burst out in tears after only two minutes into telling her about my crazy vegan daughter and the trauma of not being able to realize my wedding dream because I couldn’t feed 240 people vegan food. I was going on and on while balling my eyes out waiting for her to throw her arms around me and teach me the language that only crazy vegan children understand in order to set my insane child’s head on straight. Instead, the woman psychiatrist looked at me with an expression of irritation and told me she saw no problem whatsoever with the bride’s and groom’s dietary restrictions. She suggested an Indian cuisine menu. I thanked her for her time, paid $150 and left.
NOTE: Parents seeking psychiatric advice due to vegan children wedding issues should make sure the psychiatrist isn’t from INDIA where 350 million people are VEGETARIANS!

I have so much respect for my daughter’s conviction and know myself well enough that I couldn’t ever deviate from areas of etiquette so deeply ingrained in me. I lost my dream wedding for my precious daughter AND $150 and the only thing left for me to do was hope my child came around (without counting on it) and put my energy into focusing on learning how to let the wedding dream go. My 3 month mantra:
“She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails” – Elizabeth Edwards.

Sometimes Wind Is Fickle

After 3 months I found a reasonable amount of peace and traveled to New York to visit the kids- no wedding talk, just a long weekend visit. I’m not sure if it was by the kids’ design or simply by chance, but every single day they took me to a different vegan restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I couldn’t believe what I was eating. Each vegan restaurant was as good as the last and ALL was delicious. I started getting very excited, I mean, vegan or not, this was really good food. Suddenly, I knew that I could make a vegan wedding- a vegan wedding weekend! I wasn’t only excited that the dream wedding was back on but I was also very excited at the thought of holding 240 guests vegan hostage for an entire weekend. Listen to me because I’m speaking the truth. I’m not ashamed to admit that in terms of etiquette I’m neurotic. I won’t ever compromise so don’t think for one second that I wanted the wedding dream so badly that I willed myself into believing the vegan restaurants were wonderful. The excitement of holding guests vegan hostage comes from knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that our guests who shoot a deer, rip out its heart and eat it raw are going to walk away from this vegan wedding weekend wondering what just happened! No one will be hungry. No one will believe that none of their meals contained the meat from any once-living creature. The thought of the utter confusion is one that makes me giggle!

Parents Listen Up because This Part is about Food and It’s Important!!

Parents of vegan brides and grooms in NYC and the surrounding area, you’ve got it made in terms of food. The city is full of incredible chefs skilled in vegan cuisine. You will have no worries about the quality of food served to your guests as long as your chef specializes in vegan cuisine. Parents like myself who live in areas where vegan and vegetarian food is limited, I’m offering the following advice based on experience.

I freaked out over the vegan wedding restriction due to living in a state that has maybe two vegan/vegetarian restaurants and plenty of regular restaurants that offer a garden/veggie burger. The few vegan restaurants are acceptable but nowhere near the level of quality that New York City offers. Why? My best guess is a lack of competition (but I strongly believe that’s changing). That lack of competition doesn’t give much motivation to vegan chefs to develop their culinary skills and so the restaurants remain average. If my daughter’s wedding was in our hometown rather than NYC the vegan restaurants would do. The food would be at least satisfying but the excitement of holding guests hostage wouldn’t be there.

Whether you live in the NYC area or a state with limited vegan option resources, please listen to me. The expensiveness of hotels and their ratings are irrelevant to their ability to provide delicious or at least quality vegan fare. A huge source of my vegan fear came after attending a beautiful high-end wedding held in a very ritzy hotel. We were provided vegan meals that consisted of brown rice, steamed carrots and asparagus. If that wasn’t disgusting enough, the portion size was like a diet plate. I was hungry and uncomfortable but I learned a valuable lesson which at the time I didn’t know I’d benefit from seeing as how the kids hadn’t announced their engagement yet.

Hotels, Non-Vegan Restaurants, Famous Chefs, Food Network I’m Talking to You Also

I don’t care how expensive a restaurant or hotel is and I don’t care how famous a chef is- don’t let yourself get caught equating money and rank with getting high quality food when you have special needs! They’ll talk a good game because they want your business or they’re full of ego but it ain’t happening! Think of it like this- you don’t go to a proctologist when you need a root canal. Quality vegan cuisine that’s worthy of serving to your guests requires a chef who specializes in vegan cuisine.

Compared To Embracing A Vegan Wedding and Planning One, Dante’s Inferno is a Cakewalk!

The process of embracing my vegan bride’s wedding and then planning it was nothing short of a continuous loop through all nine circles of Hell. Depending on the circumstances, the logistics of planning a vegan wedding is or can be very different than the logistics of planning a ‘regular’ wedding. In our case, the logistics were over the top difficult. So, the comparison to Dante’s Inferno was the truth. My future blog entries will detail the possible logistics, how I handled or mishandled them and offer suggestions including advice on how to find the best vegan caterers ESPECIALLY for those who live in locations where the definition of the word ‘vegan’ is understood to mean a person who only eats shrimp.

My Personal Investment for Agreeing to be a Contributing Blogger

I’ve been a vegetarian for over 3 decades. I’ve lived my life according to my conscience but never felt inclined to tell anyone else how to live. I married a meat eater and together we raised four incredible children. I never imposed my vegetarian diet on my husband or children but for their own reasons, two have chosen a vegan lifestyle. They taught me why vegetarianism wasn’t enough. They’re outspoken activists and I’m not unless I witness cruelty. I’ve agreed to share my personal experiences with vegan weddings, not in an effort to convert people but simply to help anyone struggling with their vegan wedding logistics including getting reluctant friends and family on board.

After I got past my fear of a vegan wedding, I spent the next 16 months traveling through those nine circles of Hell just to figure out logistics to accommodate a vegan wedding. I’m not talking about color schemes and centerpieces. New York City is the center of the world until 230 guests arrive for a vegan wedding weekend at which point NYC’s ability to accommodate such an event is on par with something out of the movie Deliverance. An NYC wedding is expensive but the bare bones logistics to accommodate a vegan wedding at least doubled the cost simply because veganism isn’t mainstream enough. When 230 guests fly back out of town, NYC will once again be the center of the world but for that weekend Dueling Banjos will replace New York New York! My struggle with the planning was unexpected and shocking but as a result, there isn’t anything vegan wedding-related that I haven’t experienced. My main goal is to be a resource for all my fellow vegan wedding-phobic parents and their bride and groom children. I get it! Been there, done that and I will reassure you while walking you through it.

A Little Perspective to Consider when You’re Vegan-phobia Creeps In

One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward
Parents, I’m not a gambler. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve purchased a lottery ticket so I’m not saying the following lightly- I’ll bet $10 that your guests bitch about attending an outdoor wedding on a hot muggy summer day and NOT the vegan menu! I’ll bet $20 they bitch about the cash bar and NOT the vegan menu! I’ll bet $25 they bitch about the hour and a half long cocktail hour that ran out of hors d’oeuvres after the first 30 minutes but NOT the vegan menu! I’ll bet $50 they bitch about the lack of grace for not being greeted by the bride, groom or their parents but NOT the vegan menu! I’ll bet $100 that your guests will find 100 things to bitch about other than the menu regardless if your wedding menu is steak, chicken, salmon or vegan. I will teach you how to create a vegan menu that will satisfy even your hardest to please guests. My dear phobic-parents, as a bonus, your post-wedding status will elevate to awesomely cool!
There Really Is a World of Vegans Out There Including Athletes, Politicians, Celebrities…. Here Are Just a Few….
Jane Velez- Mitchell, President Bill Clinton, John Salley, Russell Simmons, Carrie Underwood, Meredith Vieria, Paul Watson, Jim Morris, John Mackey, Carl Lewis, Jason P. Lester, Georges Laraque, Andy Lally, Coretta Scott King, Eric Johnson, Al Gore, Barry Gordy, Jon Fitch, Ellen DeGeneres, Lisa Bloom, Jocelyn Portney, Corey Brown

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