We have been meat-free for about five months now and vegan for only a month and a half. It’s been a relatively easy transition and in day-to-day “normal” life, there haven’t been any issues. I was, however, nervous about attending a wedding for the first time while having dietary restrictions. I hate making a fuss and was wondering how on earth I could make sure I eat and feel well-nourished while keeping things low-key about my lifestyle. If you are vegetarian or vegan, chances are that you know how these sorts of conversations can go. Mostly everyone that I have encountered is accepting of veganism, but some become defensive of their lifestyle in response. I will reserve my comments on how I have handled those sorts of situations for a later blog post. Needless to say, I wanted this to be a comfortable, fun, and mostly covert mission. This required a bit of planning, but mostly we just winged it.
What we did know was that we would be driving about four hours each way and staying in a hotel overnight. We decided to bring an insulated cooler bag with us and filled it with our favorite snacks from home. These snacks included clementines, apples, almonds, dates, raisins, rice cakes, and peanut butter. We didn’t make a special grocery trip, just packed what we had available at home. We even brought our own utensils that we could use and wash later if needed. Oh, and don’t forget water! We packed a couple mason jars full of water for our trip with plans to refill them when needed. We were so happy that we brought our own snacks instead of having to stop for something to eat along the way (because we forgot to eat breakfast before we left…ooops). So for breakfast we had almonds and fruit with water.
When we got there, we had over an hour to spare. After locating the venue, we finally went on a hunt for food. Sandwiches have become our guilty pleasure recently, so we found ourselves at a sub shop. We ordered a veggie sub sans cheese to share. They only charging us for the vegetables and bread that we wanted. We ended up paying less than $3 for a sub that we expected to cost us $13. I was so shocked and grateful (and full). If I could give you one tip for going to a wedding or event that might not be vegan-friendly, I would say to eat ahead of time. I’m sure my husband was glad we stopped for food because I get really grumpy when I’m hungry.
The ceremony was absolutely beautiful and the couple looked so happy and in love. It has been a long time since I’ve been a guest at a wedding and not the photographer. It was nice to be able to relax and enjoy the personal vows without having to worry about capturing every moment.
The cocktail hour was a lifesaver. There were so many fresh fruits and vegetables available. I filled up on cauliflower, watermelon, honeydew melon, and any other produce that I could find. A lot of weddings include veggies with dips or salads. Most veggie dips are not dairy-free, but the vegetables are! You could dip your veggies in vinegar if you find some at a salad station. Not to mention, salads are great too! Fill your plate with lots of greens to satiate your hunger. Balsamic vinegar (or oil and vinegar in a pinch) work as great salad dressings that are often available. Any option that you enjoy and is offered, take advantage of!
When dinner was ready to be served, I was still full from the cocktail hour. I ended up ordering one of the options and giving the meat to a family member while keeping the roasted vegetables for myself. You could always just ask the staff if they could send you a plate of whatever vegetables they have (with no butter added) or a salad instead of a meat option. I’m sure a lot of places could accommodate that! God forbid there weren’t viable options, I packed almonds and dates that would give me a substantial caloric intake to get by on.
After dancing and partying with family, we walked to our hotel and took our shoes off. We were so tired from traveling and then celebrating with our loved ones. But we were also super hungry! So we ordered a pizza for delivery without cheese, but with our favorite toppings (pineapple and jalapenos – go ahead and judge, you pineapple haters, but it is delicious). It was a great way to end an awesome day.
Our hotel offered complimentary breakfast and we fully took advantage of that. I ate some assorted fruits (orange slices, melon, and pineapple) with a slice of peanut butter toast. I also grabbed an apple to-go for the ride home. Oh, and don’t forget about water! They had water in one of the juice fountains and you could fill your cups (or mason jars) as you please. I took full advantage of that.
We were still on the way home around lunch time. We stopped for flatbread sandwiches (surprise, surprise) at a local shop off the highway. And then we continued on our journey home.
Sure, we definitely didn’t eat the healthiest, but we stuck to our guns and made it work for us. We definitely could have subbed out the sandwiches (pun intended) for salads. We also could have snacked on our healthy treats that we packed instead of devouring an entire pizza, but life is about balance. It’s about eating your chickpea and spinach salads (which I am currently enjoying while writing this), but also eating pizza and sandwiches sometimes too.
Maybe next time we will do things differently and make healthier decisions, but I definitely don’t regret the decisions we made. We got to enjoy some of our favorite foods and had a great time celebrating with family.
Don’t think of these types of events as a struggle, but instead as a challenge. Be creative and make it work for you and your family.