I’ve been vegetarian for half my life, and I’m finding myself gradually taking more steps towards becoming vegan. It’s super hard. I don’t drink milk at home, or eat eggs… but when I’m dining out it’s almost impossible here in the Lake District to find dairy alternatives or vegan menu choices. So when these tips from Niki Webster, founder of RebelRecipes.com landed in my inbox, I was delighted! I would love to see more weddings even catering for vegans, and the idea of a fully vegan wedding is a wonderful thing to me.
I was at a family wedding last year, sat next to my vegan cousin. The wedding was amazing, the venue absolutely beautiful – we had the best day. But has anyone else noticed that vegetarian options at weddings turn up last? That’s generally after every guest, at every table, has been served their meaty starter or main. There’s an element of suspense… will it be goat’s cheese tart? (The answer is always yes, by the way.) and when the food arrives, it’s nice if not incredible. My vegan cousin had to wait at least another five minutes after my veggie main course came out, and his food kind of surprised me. His starter had been a plate of colourful fresh salad with carrots and beetroot and tomatoes and leaves – it looked delicious. His main… the same thing, on a bigger plate.
Is it a numbers game? Do chefs prioritise catering for the 95% – and put 95% of their efforts into the meat dishes? It feels that way sometimes… sadly, especially so at weddings! Vegetarians get 4% of the chefs’ time, and chefs devote that final 1% of their time and effort to planning (haha) and presenting vegan dishes. It’s a shame.
But you CAN have a vegan wedding. A vegan wedding menu doesn’t have to be a plate of salad followed by a plate of vegetables followed by a bowl of fruit. It can be adventurous, delicious and varied. You just have to make the right choices so it can happen. Here’s how!
1. Find an open minded, flexible venue
Here in the Lake District I get the feeling most of our venues pride themselves on locally sourced meats – and they’d struggle with the concept of a vegan wedding. So any set-in-stone catering arrangements your venue has will probably put a stop to holding a vegan wedding. Luckily, there are plenty of venues where you can hire your own caterers! Make sure that when you are booking your venue you are able to choose one that either allows outside catering or to ensure that their on-site caterers have a great selection of delicious vegan dishes.
Be upfront and honest with all your venue staff from the beginning about your plans. This allows you to work closely with the venue to ensure that all areas are covered, and they are happy to work alongside you in creating your perfect vegan wedding.
2. Hire specialist caterers
There are so many different specialist vegan and vegetarian caterers in the UK but make sure to do your research; read other people’s reviews and speak to them directly to ensure they understand what you are looking for. As with any wedding caterer make sure to sample the dishes beforehand and tailor it to your specific tastes and needs.
Some of my favourite vegan caterers at the moment are:
http://www.cashewcatering.co.uk (based in East Sussex)
https://theparsnipship.co.uk/wedding-catering/ (Wales based, experienced veggie & vegan wedding menus delivered around the UK for you to reheat and serve)
http://eco-cuisine.co.uk (sustainable and organic catering with veggie & vegan menus, serving London & home counties)
3. Do it yourself
A brilliant way to ensure you are getting exactly what you want from your catering is to do it yourself if you dare! Here are some of Niki’s top ideas on how to wow your guests;
Canapés are always a great way to entertain your guests during the reception or before the ceremony. Make sure to have a variety of different choices so there is something for everyone.
Or why not go for hearty crowd pleasers such as: Mezze platters or big and hearty salads where your guests can help themselves and get stuck in.
Finish BIG with different vegan cheeses, chutneys and fruits to create a delicious board that has the wow factor!
4. Go festival-style!
Festival weddings are huge for a reason. They’re relaxed, familiar surroundings and the perfect way to spend a summer’s day. And any festival goer will tell you there are amazing vegan catering vans selling pizzas, curries, paellas and tacos – to be honest, one of my favourite things about any festival is always the food.
Those little vans though? They don’t just do festivals. They do foodie markets and events around the country. They travel (that’s why they’re vans). And they do weddings.
Picture the scene: hay bales around a grassy courtyard, fire pits, cosy shawls and blankets, sunsets, you in your wedding gear and everyone enjoying their choice of vegan treats from your catering vans. It’s perfect, don’t you think?
5. Don’t forget your vegan wedding cake!
Just like with caterers, it’s becoming increasingly more accessible to find a great vegan wedding cake company, so you no longer need to compromise on taste or appearance.
Some of Niki’s favourite vegan wedding cake companies at the moment are:
For brilliant Vegan and Organic designs: https://www.theorganicweddingcakecompany.com/vegan-cake-flavours
You will not find a cake that is healthier or looks more beautiful: http://www.nkshrewsbury.co.uk/bespoke-vegan-celebration-cakes
Don’t forget about cupcakes too! http://www.mscupcake.co.uk/weddings/
6. Make sure your drinks are vegan friendly too…
Surprisingly to a lot of people – certain drinks, such as wines and champagne are not vegan friendly. A handy trick I have learnt is to use Barnivore.com or the Vegan food & living guide to quickly check what brands are.
If you are looking for delicious vegan friendly champagne, prosecco and wine try https://www.thomsonandscott.com
7. Is your wedding dress vegan?
I was wandering around the internet last week and came across an article on feathers and their use in fashion… it shocked me (the processes involved in large-scale feather production are awful, and brands like TopShop have banned feathers from their lines), but at the same time it’s good to know there are ethical brands out there sourcing feathers in a non-harmful way.
And then there’s silk. The life of a silkworm is harsh, and non-ethical silk production is horrific. Vegans will most definitely want to avoid most silks at all costs; there are beautiful alternatives though (find out about Peace Silk), and the wonderful thing about the wedding industry is its makeup: so many designers are independent and bespoke and will I’m sure embrace the challenge of creating that once-in-a-lifetime dress or suit using ethical fabrics and embellishments. Don’t be shy – contact your favourites and ask the question!
Niki suggests Minna and Tammam, and we love US designer Tara Lynn for dresses AND suits. Etsy has some fabulous vegan designers – our fave is Dig for Victory (for gorgeous tea length vegan wedding dresses). Also check out Rebecca Schoneveld and Canadian brand Pure Magnolia Couture (some, but not all of their dresses are vegan).
For wedding shoes we love Beyond Skin, who are rather marvellously based in the UK!
Niki Webster is the founder of RebelRecipes.com – the qualified raw chef and award-winning vegan blogger who has over 260K followers and is growing daily. She is known for her delicious and easily accessible recipes and creating a sustainable way of including vegan into your daily life!