Wedding preparations can be stressful enough. A family that disapproves of your vegan wedding plans can make things even more stressful. But it doesn’t have to be that way, sometimes it’s just a matter of understanding the real concerns underneath the surface so you can address them.
The following three step guide should help you navigate towards sailing down the aisle with ease:
Step 1: Make sure you have your partner’s support
The last thing you want is to deal with a disapproving partner in addition to a disapproving family. Hearing your partner say “I told you so”, or “I think it’s a bad idea too” while you deal with a raging family member who won’t accept the idea of a vegan reception , is not exactly the direction you want things to go…
If your partner is vegan then this step should be easy as he/she probably understands why you are so committed to pursuing a cruelty-free wedding day; In fact this is probably something your partner desires as well, which makes dealing with the outside world much easier.
But what if they are not vegan, and not on board?
Sitting down for a one-on-one honest conversation with your partner, prior to the planning stage, where the two of you are able to express your desires and wants for your big day, can be crucial. This is your space to discuss what is really important to you and what you are willing (or unwilling) to compromise on. The most important thing is that when you end the conversation, you are united in whichever decision you have made, and whatever you will face from now on – you will face together, backing each other up.
Is there another alternative?
If you try your best, but find that you can’t come to an agreement, you could consider going completely outside the box, by planning an alternative wedding that you will both be happy with; for example you could choose not to include a full sit-down meal, and focus on the actual ceremony, or have an outrageous cocktail party with creative finger food, that will keep everyone talking of that “great night” that was your wedding. It’s your day so the only limit is your imagination.
Step 2: Find out what your family’s real concerns are
Family members, and especially parents, can have a tremendous effect and influence on your big day. The closer you are to someone, and the more they mean to you, the more you are likely to want them to be on board with your decisions.
If a close family member is opposing your vegan wedding plans, it could be worth while to take some time to understand their concerns as this may help you find solutions; be sure to initiate this conversation when you are both relaxed, and it’s only the two of you around, so they can feel comfortable to express their concerns and worries without judgement.
From my experience I expect you will find that most of their concerns probably relate to one of the following:
What if the food isn’t tasty?
They are worried that guests will not enjoy/ be happy with the foods served
What if there isn’t enough variety?
They are concerned that the meal will not be of satisfaction, and/or that there won’t be enough choices to suit all palates, leaving the guests hungry.
What if people talk?
They are worried that the guests will find it hard to accept a wedding that doesn’t follow the standard conventions, and/or the guests will think that you went “cheap” (i.e. chose a cheaper catering option).
Step 3: Offer possible solutions that will get them on board (Get them involved!)
Once you understand the real causes behind the objection, it will be much easier to come up with ideas that will help resolve them and that allow your family member to get on board.
If they are worried about the food not being tasty, offer to let them join your tasting sessions with different caterers; taking an active part in the process of choosing the food and the catering company, will allow them to make sure that the foods served would be something they will be happy to share with the guests.
Worried about not having enough food or having foods that won’t suite everyone’s palates? Ask them to participate in the negotiation process with the caterer, to ensure there are a variety of dishes on offer. Make a decision to serve (alongside creative and sophisticated dishes) some favourite classic dishes as well. Another solution could simply be offering a buffet style dinner, where everyone can just pick and choose whatever appeals to them the most.
Are they worried about what people will say? We all know that guests who arrive out of genuine love for the bride and groom will enjoy the wedding and focus on the positive no matter what. Some people will always talk and you really can’t please everyone. At the end of the day, the people that will remember the wedding most are you, as a couple, the important thing is that you will be happy and proud with the decisions you’ve made, loving family members should try and understand, and support you on that.
Some final points to keep in mind (a sanity list!):
In all of the pressure of wedding planning and possibly dealing with criticism around your choices here are some things that you already know, but it may help to remind yourself of:
There is no reason in the world why you should abandon your principles and ethics on your big day. If you don’t participate in animal suffering in your everyday life, you should not be expected to so on your wedding day.
Unlike many other couples out there, who operate on auto-pilot and do things just because they were done a million times before, you and your partner are thinking people making conscious decisions, which you won’t have to be embarrassed about in years to come.
If you choose the right caterer, and allow for as much variety and choice as possible, you have a great chance to expose how wonderful, how diverse and how satisfying vegan foods can be.
You are a beautiful person who cares about something that is bigger than yourself; and you are not alone. There are millions of others like you, and every day the numbers keep on growing. Soon, vegan weddings will become part of the mainstream – and you were one of the ground breakers in making that happen!
Wishing you a beautiful wedding, and that your love and compassion will touch the lives of all those around you and will inspire each and everyone of your wedding guests.