1. J

    In the past when presented with this situation, I have consulted the spouse-to-be (whoever invited me, whichever ‘side’ I was on) about the option of vegetarian dishes. Every time, I was told there was the option of a vegetable-only plate, but the venue makes it on an as-needed basis. So on my RSVP, I made my own box and checked off Vegetarian, and every time, there was an appropriate meal waiting for me. I suggest you check with the ‘side’ that invited you, and ensure/ confirm there is a veg option before you order and waste a meat course you’re not planning on eating.

    • Country Girl

      I would agree with you J. I also agree with Winifred that this should be taken care of very promptly.

      As a future-bride, I would certainly be at least slightly displeased to learn that I was paying for not only meats that wouldn’t be eaten, but also additional vegetarian meals! If even just one couple did this, it could potentially cost the couple upwards of $50 if there are only expensive options like seafood and steak.

      I would actually not check any of the meat options, but make a small note instead on the side that says something like “*Side dishes only for us please, we are vegetarian. =)” Most brides will likely happily arrange a vegetarian meal for you anyway if given ample time. If it isn’t possible for them to arrange a vegetarian main dish, then at least you have spared them extra cost and headache. Simply omitting a meat will be more than easy enough for the caterer. In this case, be sure to just bring a few extra granola bars in your purse to fill up on.

  2. Elizabeth

    I think this is erroneous. Usually a vegetarian option isn’t listed on the invitation not because it isn’t available, but because such a small percentage of the population are vegetarians. I can’t think of an example in which a catering company or a reception venue couldn’t provide a vegetarian meal and wouldn’t like the benefit of advance warning. Unless you were having a potluck wedding, I think it’s always best to let people know ahead of time. What if you kept Kosher, had a gluten intolerance, etc? Perhaps the best thing would be to contact the venue yourself ahead of time? I realize a wedding isn’t like an in-flight meal, but I would think that most brides/grooms and most venues would want an heads-up in advance and so some kind of contact, whether that be written on the invitation or shared during a phone call.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      I agree, but I would like to add that this is only acceptable if you do it promptly. In preparation for my brother’s wedding, his now-wife called the people who hadn’t yet sent in their response cards well after the RSVP date. One of them responded saying “I’m coming, but I lost my response card so I can’t send it back to you. Also, I’m allergic to gluten, dairy, [and a few other things I can’t remember] so I don’t know about the meal.” At this point it was two weeks before the wedding and my sister-in-law had a whole list of things to worry about not including figuring out what to feed this tardy guest. My take on it was when she realized she had dropped the ball in responding she should have just said she wasn’t coming to make things easy on the soon-to-be newlyweds instead of making special requests.

  3. Eileen

    Absolutely agree with the two people above. I can appreciate not wanting to be the high maintenance guest, but I think it would cause me more stress to know that people weren’t able to eat at my wedding when it could have been resolved early with a quick conversation. You’re presumably still friends with these people…just call them and talk to them.

  4. Nina

    I absolutely agree with the other commenters. My wedding venue told me they can accomodate absolutely any dietary restrictions…provided they have at least two weeks notice. If you wait until the day of and then ask a server, you’ll not only likely have to make do with salad and bread, you’ll stress out the poor serving staff who will want to make you happy but probably won’t have anything to offer.

  5. Jenny

    I would definitely say something ahead of time to my side of the party to let them have plenty of time to put in the request. (I’ve been vegetarian for so long and my friends pretty much all know, I don’t really encounter this anymore.) It’s important to say that you’re vegetarian, you wouldn’t want to get stuck with veggies that have been cooked with the meat or in some sort of broth. After being vegetarian for 22 years, your stomach can’t really handle that food anymore and you can get a bad tummy ache! I’ve had it happen. The wedding couple would want you to have a great time.

  6. Yvette

    There are a lot of interesting comments here. In the frenzy of picking caterers, printing invitations and making sure Aunt Martha and Aunt Gertrude are seated in opposite sides of the ballroom, a couple can forget to ask their guests about dietary restrictions.

    Caterers can be very limiting in their options or charge a good deal for changes. I’m currently in the process of planning a wedding. My fiancé and I added a line stating “Please advise us of any dietary restrictions of which we should be aware on the back of this card.” Of course since we have done this, we will need to be responsible for providing a diet-friendly meal to anyone who gives us a heads-up. We are happy to do this because our caterer is flexible and our family-style menu is flexible. Also we are getting married in the country and it is not feasable for a guest to go to a restaurant in the vincinty and get something to eat before or after the event.

    In the case above, I would contact the couple and ask if a vegetarian option is available. They will want to know you are coming at any rate. If they answer that such an option is minimal or not available, you will know to pack almonds in your purse.

  7. Elizabeth

    I’m sorry to say this is bad advice. When a caterer is charging a minimum of $28 to feed each person, it’s certainly poor etiquette to check two complete dinner options that you’re not planning to eat and, as someone said before, have the bride calculate yet another two dishes to cater to these vegetarian guests.

  8. Mo

    I am glad to see that most of the commenters here support the idea that it’s better to raise the concern ahead of time than spring it on the waitstaff when you’re already at the venue. I am a vegetarian and I actually did once do exactly what was advised in the official response and it did not go well!

    It was the summer I was 21 and my then-boyfriend informed me that he had sent the response card in and checked the chicken option for me practically in the same breath that he was informing me that we were even going to this wedding at all. I was his +1 and wouldn’t have known how to contact the bride or groom if I had wanted to so I had to take his word for it that it would somehow work out for him to eat both the steak and the chicken and me to eat the side dishes. Long story short: when the food came, it turned out that I was actually seated next to another vegetarian who had indicated as much ahead of time and had his veggie option brought to him without further incident. Observing that there was in fact a vegetarian option and there were no actual side dishes on the plates of meat that were being set down (the chicken and steak were both served on a bed of lettuce with dipping sauces and citrus slices), my boyfriend had to awkwardly request a vegetarian option for me as they were trying to set my chicken in front of me. The waitstaff was clearly annoyed but also panicked about getting the veggie dish out to me in a timely manner because, in the meantime, everyone else at our table was feeling uncomfortable about starting while I was sitting in front of an empty place setting. In conclusion: I would definitely recommend AGAINST taking the advice that is given here. My experience is that it will not work out well at all!

    Moreover, I agree with other commenters that it could potentially come across as very rude to sit at the reception with an untouched plate of food in front of you. Imagine the bride, groom, or either set of parents coming around to see that you haven’t even touched the meal that they’re doubtless paying $40+ for you to have. If you contact the couple ahead of time to see if the caterer/venue might be able to handle your dietary restriction, it might be see as mildly annoying. But the alternative could easily be perceived as a much more egregious affront.

    That is actually why I searched this forum. As a vegetarian, I understand that sometimes I will not have much to eat at formal function and I’m okay with that because vegetarianism was my decision and I understand that I can’t hold others accountable for it. But I have a wedding coming up at which I would be very concerned about how it would be perceived if I just sat there not eating. This has to do with my relationship with the bride, groom, and their parents as well as things I know about them and their attitude towards such things (e.g. the groom’s mother is an Italian “mangia! mangia!” type who is always asking everyone if they got enough to eat, etc, etc). All of the previous advice I had seen said that you should just pick one of the available options and either eat what you can or resign yourself to the fact that you just might not be able to eat anything. I just really did not see that going over well with this family! So I am glad to see that others agree that it could easily come across as ruder to leave a plate untouched than to take the initiative to ask about it beforehand.

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