Here comes the bride ... and her dietary restrictions
May 11th, 2012
03:00 PM ET
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When it came time for Sivan Pardo, 31, to plan her wedding to her 28-year-old fiancé Scott Renwick, she knew she wanted a “big fat vegan wedding.”

“As Scott and I are both vegans for ethical reasons, it was very clear to us that we wanted our wedding, and everything around it, to reflect our ethics and values,” said Pardo, the founder and director of “The Vegan Woman” website.

Pardo has been vegan for one year and a vegetarian since she was 12. There will be no animal-derived products served at her reception on June 1.

sivan and scott
Scott Renwick and Sivan Pardo

She is hardly the first bride to use her wedding menu to express her beliefs. In 2010, former first daughter Chelsea Clinton famously served a vegan menu and gluten-free cake during her nuptials to Marc Mezvinsky to reflect her own dietary choices.

Clinton did, however, also offer the option of organic grass-fed beef to omnivorous attendees. She is among the brides and grooms meeting their guests halfway down the aisle on menu choices in the interest of making their big day more harmonious.

It's a fine waltz between “it’s my wedding and I’ll serve seitan if I want to,” and appeasing the average guest’s palate.

The compromise is one that Jennifer Fugo was willing to stomach. She was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity in 2008, and two years later, opted against a gluten-free wedding.

“At first I wanted the entire wedding to be gluten-free, however I came to realize that the cost was just too much to bear,” said Philadelphia-based Fugo. She runs the “Gluten Free School,” an online educational resource for the gluten-free lifestyle.

While her guests noshed on traditional wedding fare, Fugo enjoyed a personalized gluten-free meal. And when it came time to cut the cake, there was a gluten-free, vegan cupcake waiting for her.

For those with gluten intolerance like Fugo, the flour in a regular wedding cake would have wreaked havoc on her digestive system. Sick and bloated is no way to spend your wedding day.

“Most caterers should be able to accommodate health-related dietary restrictions individually and create a special meal for the bride or groom without serving it to all of the guests,” said Chicago-based wedding planner Camille McLamb. “But ultimately, whether the restrictions are health-related or due to religious or ethical reasons, it's the bride and groom's day, and they should choose a menu that they are most comfortable with.”

For Pado and her fiancé, the menu with which they felt most at home was entirely vegan.

“We could not imagine having our wedding tainted with the suffering of animals for the sake of keeping some of our guests pleased,” she said. “Especially as we know how wonderful, rich and exciting the world of vegan cuisine is, and that all people really need to do is just give it an honest try.”

Among the items the couple will be serving: eggplant rolls with sun-dried tomatoes and vegan cream cheese, mushroom risotto, coconut milk-based penne pasta with peanuts and chives and honey-melon soup with mango sorbet.

Pado says she and Scott are constantly invited to non-vegan events, and though the non-vegan food and drink “saddens” them, they attend as a sign of appreciation for the invitation - and hope for the same mutual respect on their big day.

“We hope that by inviting our family and friends to an event that is cruelty-free, they will respect us and our chosen lifestyle on our very special day,” she said.

McLamb says the menu can communicate something about the couple to the guests.

“I've had couples that served curry to reflect their Indian heritage and hushpuppies to showcase their Southern roots,” she said. “Dietary restrictions based on religion, ethics, or beliefs are no different; they highlight something that's important to the couple and personalize the wedding.”

When Siobhan Kent married her husband Aaron, they wanted to personalize their wedding with one of their favorite foods - Southern barbecue.

The mother of the bride, however, advised the couple that since their officiating rabbi kept kosher, the reception should reflect the same, even if Siobhan's half-Catholic, half-Jewish family only kept kosher on major Jewish holidays.

“I wasn't a bridezilla by any stretch, but I wasn't too mature about being denied bacon on what was supposed to be the best day of my life,” said Kent.

In the end, her mother’s opinion meant more than her persuasion toward pork, especially since her parents paid for the wedding.

No harm done. The Kents ended up getting more than their fill of barbecue on their big day, it just happened to be in the form of chicken.

“The kicker on the whole day was that the rabbi ended up not being able to attend, so this delicious kosher buffet was served to an audience where absolutely no one kept kosher,” she said.

Ultimately, the people invited to a wedding should know the bride and groom well enough to understand their choices. McLamb says a wedding should be treated like a dinner party; if you go to a vegetarian’s house for dinner, would you expect a T-bone? If guests know the hosts abide by certain dietary rules, they shouldn’t expect to be served outside those.

And if your second cousin twice-removed does end up complaining because there isn’t any schnitzel, McLamb suggests the bride and groom can simply reply, "'I'm sorry you feel that way, but this is important to us.' In the end, most people understand that the bride and groom's preferences reign supreme on wedding day.”

No further explanation needs to be served.



soundoff (270 Responses)
  1. Alicia

    Ultimately the wedding is about the bride and groom. I'm not a vegan, but I would either eat the food at the wedding without complaints or eat beforehand of afterward. You can go for a day without your meat!

    Weddings are expensive and it's inappropriate to assume or ask for the bride and groom to provide special food for each and every special snowflake, and if it's such a big problem, do not attend the reception.

    December 13, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  2. Alonzo Kottre

    I really love your site.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you develop this site yourself? Please reply back as Im looking to create my very own blog and want to find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Thanks!

    http://www.weddingwire.com/biz/bioandchic-hoboken/5b17509c34e3d3b0.html

    December 3, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  3. staygold

    People with dietary restrictions and picky people should ask the bride and groom what will be served at the wedding. If they don't like eating animals because it "saddens them", or vegan/veg food because it's "weird", then they can be in charge of feeding themselves.

    Also, if it's a dry wedding, everyone should be notified so they can know not to go.

    May 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Trying to feed myself!

      I've asked if I can bring my own vegan meal to a wedding wherein there was no non-meat option, and have been told that no outside food is allowed. I guess if you aren't allowed to feed yourself, and you are being told you won't be fed, then you go hungry for five hours or stay home.

      May 24, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  4. missthemister

    I enjoy eating meat, but I really like fresh, yummy veggies and fruit. I have friends who are vegetarian who throw two great parties every year...the strange thing...they NEVER have vegetables or fruit at the parties! They provide hamburgers for their meat eating friends, but everything else is pasta, potatoes, chips and bread. I love this couple's parties, but I learned after the first one to show up with a nice veggie and fruit tray...and they always get eaten up!

    I know you can't do that for a wedding, but I learned at a young age the wedding is about the couple....not what they've put out for me to eat. If I don't like, I know I won't starve to death before the next meal.

    May 22, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  5. eni

    I found out that I had celiac a few months ago, as a kosher only eater it was already hard to eat. But i figured there are so many products out there are both kosher and gluten free. Eating gluten free is not about no eating things just about replacing... this inspired me to start a one stop hun for all gluten free products. My website http://www.kosherglutenfreefood.com/ has lots of gluten free kosher products and is growing each day. I hope to one day open up a retal store as well.... take a look at my site http://www.kosherglutenfreefood.com/

    May 22, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
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