HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Wedding RSVP etiquette - no vegetarain option


I got invited to a wedding and am filling out my response card, but under the food options it only lists "chicken kabobs" or "sirloin burger". Well, I don't eat meat.

What is proper etiquette? Do I write a "side note" or just order one of the options and not eat it at the wedding? I don't want to be a hassle, but was surprised they didn't have a vegetarian option.

  1. What about the kabob - you could eat all the veggie stuff unless just having the chicken touch it would be a turnoff? They will probably also serve salad and a dessert so I'd just order the chicken, eat a roll, salad and dessert. JMHO, Linda

    1. Perhaps you could write a note on the response card asking if it's possible to prepare a vegetable kabob. I can't remember the last time I had to choose my entree before I arrived at a wedding, although it's definitely happened at least once or twice. I just ask my server for a vegetable plate, and it's never been a problem. You can try that, too - the upside is that no one involved in planning the wedding will know what a terrible, fussy, demanding person you are (kidding, kidding).

      1. It could be worse - it could be "chicken kabobs" or "sirloin burger" or 'vegetarian option" - because we all know that vegetarians don't care what specific veggies they eat.
        Sorry, just my personal pet peeve!

        1. It's a wedding you were invited to, not a banquet. I certainly wouldn't burden the bride with your special diet request, she has much else to attend to. Eat a bit before, or plan to eat after. Write "no meal" on the response card so they are not charged. Maybe the servers could whip something up for you after the rush to serve the others is over.

          47 Replies
          1. re: Veggo

            Wow. Surprised you didn't tell the OP to brown bag it, or just go into the kitchen and cook her own damn meal. People who don't eat meat are SUCH a drain on polite society.

            1. re: small h

              For as occasion such as this, I think it is the bride and groom only who are deserving of special attention. And with no disrespect, is brown bagging it that bad of an idea? If I were kosher and invited to a pig roast or lobster bake and wanted to enjoy all the people and festivities, that's what I would do. I don't suggest that vegetarians are a drain on polite society, but in general I find people in a crowd who demand special treatment to be somewhat selfish and out of step with what the world owes them, and should be prepared to take care of themselves. Celebrating a special day when friends marry should count more than guests departing with full bellies.

              1. re: Veggo

                Yes, yes and yes. Weddings are about two people and two people only. They've honored the OP by inviting her/him. Eat the salad, the bread, dessert. DO NOT WRITE ANYTHING ON THE RESPONSE CARD. Check mark for chicken.
                BTW, I know that all caps is shouting :)

                1. re: Veggo

                  <...in general I find people in a crowd who demand special treatment to be somewhat selfish and out of step with what the world owes them...>

                  Yeah, me too. But what does that have to do with this thread? Unless you think "ask" and "demand" are synonyms. Usually couples invite people to their wedding because they actually want their guests to have a good time - imagine! even though some people think weddings are about "two people only" - and part of that is serving food those guests will enjoy.

                  1. re: small h

                    I couldn't agree more. I hate this "me, me, me" attitude that has come up these days with weddings. There are some couples that expect gifts at every step of the way, make people travel hundreds, if not thousands of miles to go to some fancy location, and then get annoyed when someone might ask for a vegetarian entree? Seriously? If it's just about the couple, then they can elope or go have a private ceremony for two where they have no guests to worry about!

                    1. re: queencru

                      no one is requiring you to go to the wedding. If you really think it is all about the couple, you certainly can decline the invitation. And personally, if I cared enough about the couple that I'd travel thousands of miles at my own expense to attend, there is no way I'd let the fact that I might be faced with not eating the entre keep me away!

                      It may not be all about the couple, but it isn't all about the guests either.

                      1. re: queencru

                        queencru, what am I missing? You hate the "me, me, me " attitude of marrying couples hosting a party for you? While you and small h cry "give me, me, me vegetables?
                        Some flawed ratiocinating here...

                        1. re: Veggo

                          You're determined to make this a guest vs. host, or vegetarian vs. non-vegetarian issue, which it is not. It's one of recognizing that it's desirable to have flexibility on both sides.

                          There is no harm in a guest asking to have an entree assembled from ingredients already on site. As mentioned, I've done it many times and no one has batted an eye. Caterers cater to guests: that's why they're called caterers.

                          1. re: small h

                            There's no harm in the guest being considerate enough to take care of hir own needs, either. Eat the veggie hors d'ouvres, sides, salads, dessert and no whining. I was veggie for years, and I never demanded attention to my own choice of diet at anyone's event.

                            1. re: mcf

                              <...I never demanded attention to my own choice of diet at anyone's event.>

                              Again with that word, "demand" (see: Veggo's post of 8/2 1:56pm). Where do I advocate making demands? Where does ANYONE on this thread advocate making demands? Requests are not demands. Questions are not demands. If you ask and you get turned down, so be it. But I don't understand why you can't ask. Asking is not demanding!

                              1. re: small h

                                As a guest, asking for special treatment makes you a PITA. My mother would've smacked me upside the head if I'd done such a thing. (I can see it now -- our family is eating at a friend's house and I ask for chocolate milk instead of plain. Ouch!)

                                1. re: pikawicca

                                  the analogy with asking for chocolate milk is rather a stretch. Just sayin'. I'm not vegie but have plenty of friends and relations who are. Maybe I'm just more attuned to the difference here.

                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    So if someone comes to your home for dinner, and you've forgotten to put the salt shaker on the table, your guest is unspeakably rude if she asks for it? I'm trying to take this example to its logical extreme. And to understand this strange tribe of silent sufferers we've got goin' on in this thread. People must be gobbling Zantac by the fistful.

                                    1. re: small h

                                      Taking things to their logical extreme is of absolutely no value.

                                      That said, the usual etiquette norm in the USA when hosted has been not to request a condiment that is not available on the table, sideboard or such. The rules in Western culture about salt and pepper are not quite the same as other condiments because of their totemic role as markers of hospitality; hosts who had means would not in times gone by failed to put them out lest they be considered inhospitable, but since the cracking of the salt and pepper monopolies in the modern era, they have become somewhat less totemic in that regard.

                                      1. re: small h

                                        I would not ask for something not on the table, period.

                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                          Yep, that's the silent suffering I'm talking about. It must be very stressful.

                                          1. re: small h

                                            I don't suffer, and it's not stressful. My desire for a little more salt would not excuse causing my hosts any embarrassment. You obviously feel differently.

                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                              Yes, in that I don't think it would cause your hosts any embarrassment. I would not be embarrassed to be reminded to put the salt shaker on the table. I can't imagine anyone would, but then there are apparently myriad things beyond my imagination.

                                              1. re: small h

                                                I wish it wasn't so, but there are restaurants where the chef gets very put out if you ask that salt be brought to the table (they purposefully do not put it there) because he/she believes the food is perfect as is. So there are in fact people who would be upset if told their food needed salting.

                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                  And therein lies the crux of this entire conversation (maybe). In this corner, we have a crowd that thinks the bride/chef/host needs desperately to believe that the event has been planned perfectly, to the last detail. Any suggestion that this is untrue (and how could it be true? there are no perfect events) would send the bride/chef/host into a tailspin from which she has no hope of recovering. Must! protect! bride! Must! not! shatter! illusion!

                                                  In the opposite corner, we have those who think brides/chefs/hosts are - or should be - a little tougher (and more flexible) than that.

                                                  1. re: small h

                                                    On the other hand, there are those who thing guests need to be a little tougher and more flexible in terms of their expectations in this context.

                                                    Which gets us exactly nowhere. Fruitless discussion.

                                        2. re: small h

                                          actually yes it is rude to ask for a salt shaker at someones house, you are implying that the food is not good.

                                          1. re: LaLa

                                            Anyone that is so self centered to believe their food is perfect would make a pretty miserable friend.

                                            1. re: LaLa

                                              I think I've read that about some Asian cuisines. Adding anything implies that it's not perfect as cooked. Of course, little to nothing is perfect but polite society demands the illusion.

                                              Karl S, I think you've said before that the host's job is to host and the guest's job is to be the guest. Once the guest starts asking to change things about, then the guest has partially crossed the line and entered into host territory. Bound to cause friction.

                                              1. re: LaLa

                                                Or maybe I'm implying that I like my food saltier than my host does. How sensitive have people gotten? I'm amazed anyone has the courage to leave the house anymore.

                                                1. re: small h

                                                  I'm gonna hazard a guess that polite, non-demanding people get invited out alot more than other types. I saw Batali on the Daily Show recently. When asked what kind of food he prefers, he said "something that someone else prepares." That's a good guest.

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    Are you perhaps snarkily suggesting that I am impolite, demanding, and don't get invited out much? I invite you to clarify. I would hate to misinterpret you, because I've been generally in agreement with your posts in the past and want to keep my positive opinion of you.

                                                    1. re: small h

                                                      I'm not talking about you. I'm generalizing. And if you and I can't disagree then positive opinions be damned :) It's obvious there are two strong sides on this argument (what? On CH? I'm shocked!) and we're never going to agree. So until this thread gets locked,the heads are going to continue to butt. BTW, I think I'm clearly right and you are wrong :) hahahahahahaha.

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        I've actually forgotten what we disagree about. But who cares? The important thing is that we do not see eye to eye! And we never will!

                                          2. re: small h

                                            Altering the provided card to make an alternate choice is a demand for special attention no matter how you word it. There is no excuse for placing one's personal wants or desires ahead of the bridal party's choices. Call the caterer discreetly instead, if you can't take care of yourself otherwise. Don't require personal attention from people who are already swamped with details as a rule.

                                            1. re: mcf

                                              I word it as a "request," which is what it is. It's interesting that you are so particular about etiquette while being so cavalier about language. And you seem to have absolutely no qualms about telling ME what to do, which isn't very gracious at all.

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                I think one thing missing from much of this discussion, and which you've managed to bring up, is how monumentally different hosting a wedding is from hosting a dinner party or other small event. It can involve invitations, music, flowers, linens, hotel reservations, rehearsal dinner, etc. etc. etc. And it is being arranged by one or two or three people who likely have very little experience in handling events of this magnitude.
                                                Any guest should realize that their special request is one among potentially hundreds of others (if all guests felt they needed to make a special request). Thus, one should weigh very carefully whether it is really necessary to burden the hosts with a special request before doing so. If everyone took the attitude that it was no big deal, it would be unbearable for the hosts.

                                        3. re: Veggo

                                          Apparently you aren't aware of all these new trends- destination weddings where you have to stay in a set resort, several expensive events you have to pay to take part in, and engagement parties where you are expected to give a gift on top of the shower gift and the wedding gift. It may seem like if you cared enough about the couple you'd attend, but in this economy going to these types of events can be a real strain on the budget.

                                          1. re: queencru

                                            As I said before, you don't have to go...don't go if it is too much of a strain on the budget. "We love you and wish we could be there, but can't make it to the festivities. Will be thinking of you on your day" is a perfectly acceptable and polite RSVP.

                                            1. re: susancinsf

                                              Absolutely. Our younger daughter and SIL have ELEVEN couple-friends getting married this year. All over the country and one in Berlin (they went to that one). You do what you can.

                                              I think even putting a note on the RSVP card of "vegetarian if possible" is causing the wedding couple to have to consider something they shouldn't have to consider.

                                              1. re: susancinsf

                                                Exactly - it is an invitation, not an obligation.

                                                I don't eat red meat. When I'm invited to one of these things, occassionally the options will be pork, lamb or beef. I just go with the flow and eat around the protein. It isn't like anyone expects to actually enjoy the food at most weddings, is it?

                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                  Do the people saying it's ok to write in "vegetarian" on the RSVP card also think it's OK for Lulu's Mom to write "chicken or fish" on hers? My feeling is, if that was an option the hosts were offering, it would be there. If it's not there, it's not being offered, and requesting it is out of line with the behavior expected from guests.

                                                  1. re: Chris VR

                                                    Oh, no, no. Sorry if I didn't make that clear. I didn't mean to say that I then ask for chicken or fish. I just go with whatever seems most easy to eat around, and make do with sides. I also eat a bit before the event.

                                                    One time I was at a business dinner, sitting outside right next to the Adriatic Sea. And can you believe not a single seafood option was offered? Beef broth, cold meat platter, and then beef or pork for the entree. I didn't say anything, and just happily drank a lot of wine and ate what little sides were offered. Man, was I suffering the next morning (my own fault), but I had a GREAT time.

                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                      Sorry, I wasn't suggesting that YOU would ask that! You seem very reasonable and logical in your approach.

                                                      I was just wondering if the posters here advocating for a "write in" on the invitation would find any write in acceptable, or if it's just the vegetarian write in that somehow deserves a nod.

                                              2. re: queencru

                                                I live off -and-on in Playa del Carmen, Q. Roo, Mexico, which has become such a popular venue for weddings of Americans that several wedding planners there are overworked. I connected two C'hounds with contacts there, and I attended both weddings plus another of a friend. The wedding affairs are very expensive for all parties, but I assume that those guests who attend have thoughtfully considered the expense and are fortunate to have had the means. A high cost to a wedding guest due to exotic and expensive conditions is certainly a valid reason to decline a kind invitation.

                                    2. re: Veggo

                                      I completely agree with Veggo. If you don't like chicken or beef, should you then write in, "How about some fish? Or lamb?" Or "I don't eat ground meat, can you make me a steak, please?" The bride has ENOUGH to deal with. This is what is offered. Pick one and send it back. Eat before you go, push around food on your plate and have polite conversation, maybe even ask the server if there is anything vegetarian available when you get there. It's not about you having the meal of your life, you've been invited and this is what's being served. If you know you're not going to like it or can't eat it, eat something beforehand and/or afterwards.

                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        I have to laugh about this thread. We are invited to my wife's nephew's wedding later this month. Reply card called for a choice:
                                        Eggplant or Vegetarian..................................................

                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                          That's amusing. Maybe you could bring some meatballs in marinara sauce and they could work it in with the eggplant for you with some cheese.
                                          In the other extreme, I attended several wedding receptions at Green Gables, the jewish club in metro Denver. No reply cards asking for food choices, just mountains of food of every sort, among the ice sculptures.
                                          Maybe you and the OP could do the old switcheroo?

                                          1. re: Veggo

                                            Veggo, No meatballs, it's a Kosher wedding, apparently dairy and vegetarian main available

                                          2. re: Veggo

                                            The bride and groom will still be charged even if the OP writes "no meal". Most weddings also include a buffet and/or cocktail hour. Also, many will charge by groups of people and not by the individual.

                                          3. If it were a business or charity banquet or other function where you were paying to attend, (or a work meeting where you weren't paying but where you were required by your employer to attend) yes, I'd definitely write a side note. Indeed, at a business function where I was paying I'd send a note to the meeting organizers asking for vegetarian options both for that event and in the future.

                                            However, at a wedding or other event where you are an invited and hosted guest, to call attention to the lack of a vegetarian option (or whatever option you wanted that isn't there) is, IMO, rude. I think your options are:

                                            1. Put kabob on the card and quietly (without making any sort of fuss that the bride or family hosting could hear) ask the server if you could have a kabob without meat, or some other veggie option. As small h says, it probably wouldn't be a problem. Particularly if the event is held at a hotel or similar venue, they are used to folks asking for vegetarian options.

                                            2. Eat around the kabob. Probably not a satisfactory option, but one to consider.

                                            3. Eat before you go and/or after you get home.

                                            4. Politely decline the invitation.

                                            BTW, while I think it is fine to let the serve know not to bring you a plate, I wouldn't write 'no meal' on the card and expect that they won't get charged. I think most caterers would charge if a person was sitting at a spot, even if they weren't actually served. Besides, won't you want to have a drink, and perhaps a salad or whatever if there are some vegetarian options? ( and see option number one).

                                            1. Any decent caterer should be used to a few vegetarians at a given event, but would of course appreciate the heads-up, so I would write in "vegetarian dish if possible." You may just get a vegetable kebob.

                                              Vegetarians are common enough these days that I bet you aren't the only one amongst the guests. The bride and groom can just tell the caterer 50 chicken, 40 burgers, 3 vegetarian. I genuinely understand all the stress that comes with weddings and that demanding guests are close to the top of the list of stress triggers, but I think this is one of those things that is no biggie - it's for the caterer to deal with.

                                              1. Personally I think it's very inconsiderate for any host to not offer a vegetarian options at a wedding these days. But with that said, I also think it would be impolite for you to impose another burden on the bride. So I would just go and just have the bread, salad, and whatever veggies come with either choices.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: PeterL

                                                  How is it inconsiderate? A host can't accommodate everyone all of the time. I don't eat gluten. If I was invited to a wedding with gluten option A and gluten option B, I should be entitled to pout? Come on. Yes, it would be nice if your food choices garnered respect, but geesh.

                                                  1. re: PeterL

                                                    It must depend on where you live....I know ONE vegetarian. It is not common at all for me.

                                                  2. I don't think there's any harm in putting in "vegetarian, if possible" because it would be nice to know in advance if it isn't possible so you can plan accordingly. I've been to weddings where there are more than enough vegetarian appetizers, but if you save room for the main course thinking something is going to be edible for you, then you end up starving by the end of the night. In this case, making a veggie kabob shouldn't be that challenging, so hopefully they'll be able to provide that option for you.

                                                    1. I would write in "vegetable only kebab" on the card. It will be a simple matter for the catering staff to put one together. Just if there's assigned seating at the meal, keep your assigned spot so they don't have to chase over the dining room to find you.

                                                      1. Pick one or the other, that is what is offered. It is their wedding, not a dinner they are throwing for you or any other individual.

                                                        I attended a relative's vegetarian wedding, and neither choice was one I could eat (dietary & medical reasons). I chose the one that I thought was least problematic for me. I did not write in "meat" or "no tomato sauce" or anything else. I ate before the wedding & nibbled on the bread, salad, and other items I could eat. The wedding couple was not obligated to provide me a meal based on my likes/needs. I was there for a wedding, not a meal.

                                                        1. I'm sure they'll have something for you. Catered events always come up with an alternate, even if it's not offered beforehand. It might not be awesome, but you'll get a meal. It might not hurt to write "vegetarian if possible" on the RSVP card. If there's a cocktail hour, try to load up on food there.

                                                          1. The reason Jfood and the President did not attend the event in Rhinebeck this past weekend was the menu. Do you believe it was a gluten-free cake and vegen entrees. The First Family wandered to CT instead and made a huge BBQ and Stuffed Chicago Pizza and hung out. For those of you who do not understand, let's quote Foghorn Leghorn, "That's a joke son, that's a joke."

                                                            Jfood has absolutely no problem with a simple request for a vegetarian option on the reply card. The idea that the bride has too much on her plate to think about this is silly. Here is the process:

                                                            1 -Receive all the invitation
                                                            2 - Total the entree choices. 100 people invited; 60 chickens; 38 meats; 2 veggies;
                                                            3 - Call the caterer and tell them.

                                                            Doesn;t sound like more than a 10-second delta in effort.

                                                            Option 2 is piss off 2 guests who will probably tell people how inconsiderate you were, write something on CH and Bridezilla .com.

                                                            Sounds like a pretty simple way to make 2 guests feel like guests versus customers at a local theatre.

                                                            18 Replies
                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                              I don't know if it is as simple as it appears. What if the vegetarian is really vegan but doesn't specify? Or thinks that a plate of steamed or grilled vegetables is *not* an acceptable vegetarian 'alternative' (as several have posted on this board in the past). Will be bride's family be wondering if the vegetarian needs are adequately met by telling the caterer, 'two vegetarian options, please?" Won't the host family feel just a little bad that they didn't think of that option, and perhaps wonder what other needs they are missing?

                                                              For that matter, does your reply change if the tally is: 101 people accepted, 60 chickens, but two of those with only gluten-free sides; 35 meats; 1 Kosher; 2 Halal meat only; 3 vegetarian, but one of those vegen only?

                                                              and what if there are nuts in the salad? Should you mention your allergies on the card also?

                                                              As I said in my first post, it is one thing if one is a paying customer and/or one must eat somewhere for work related reasons. However, I think when one is a guest, one should eat what is offered, or not, and choose among the choices one is given, rather than bothering the hosts for choice number three (or more).

                                                              1. re: susancinsf

                                                                Oh the wonderful world of "what-ifs".

                                                                Noone brought up changing sides, just the basic simple to write vegetarian. And in your example, if there was a Kosher or a Vegan and if the caterer could accomodate, then yes jfood would try to accomodate. Adds another minute to the year long process of creating the perfect wedding.

                                                                You and jfood just disagree. And the hosts that you are "bothering" are probably good freinds, relatives or someone who has invited you to a life event.

                                                                To be clear, jfood would not do it as a guest but as a host if someone asked, he would try to comply.

                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                  huh? don't get your last sentence. OP IS a guest. He or She wasn't asked what s/he wanted, h/she was asked to choose between two options.

                                                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                                                    Yup that is the OP. He was stating the two sides as conclusion. He would not do as a guest; he would accomodate as a host.

                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                      ok, I admit, I am still confused by your answer. Not sure if we disagree or not, but I guess I will take your word for it that we do. :-)

                                                                  2. re: jfood

                                                                    What Susan is really trying to say is a reiteration of what is known in our family as "Grandpa's Rule" and was understood to be in effect at any situation in which we were guests (well, actually, STILL is in effect in any such situation...):

                                                                    "Eat it and shut up about it, or don't eat it and shut up about it."

                                                                    I definitely agree that Grandpa's Rule applies here....

                                                                    1. re: janetofreno

                                                                      Indeed, it remains the rule for proper behavior of a guest in the USA. People who wish to run afoul of it take the risk that they will be considered rude. That's their choice, and they should not whine if the risk is fulfilled.

                                                                      1. re: janetofreno

                                                                        That's perfect. And applicable in many setting --- that show up TOO often on CH IMO.

                                                                  3. re: jfood

                                                                    As to the Rhinebeck wedding, jfood is not that far off the mark - Chelsea is vegetarian. But at a cost approaching $5000 per guest, I doubt that broccoli florets were the main course.

                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                      Read this this morning:

                                                                      "Although the bride is a vegetarian, folks tucked into locally raised grass-fed beef or grilled fish, risotto and salad"

                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                        OMG! You mean, you mean, that the bride and groom actually accommodated the preferences of their guests? That it was NOT just about the two of them? How did this happen? (clutches pearls, faints dead away)

                                                                        1. re: small h

                                                                          It's probably easier to accommodate your guests when you have five grand per to throw around! ;)

                                                                          1. re: visciole

                                                                            Now aren't you the smart one?!?

                                                                            1. re: visciole

                                                                              No doubt. But being considerate is still free.

                                                                      2. re: jfood

                                                                        J, it can go to extremes and get out of hand.
                                                                        My nephew's wife is both vegan and allergic to wheat, What anightmare to feed.
                                                                        She grazes on salad and has the good breeding to make no comments about the meal served at a wedding.
                                                                        In our day, there was one main served by the caterer. Anything else you had at the cocktail hour.
                                                                        A bride and groom don't owe guests a selection.

                                                                        Certain weddings, we go have a drink after the ceremony and duck out before the meal. Usually let the bride and groom know that we cannot attend the reception do to prior conflict, but would be happy to share in their joy at the ceremony. They save the cost a mael that would likely end up in the trash.

                                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                                          Another reason to have late morning weddings rather than evening weddings. Luncheon is much more forgiving and civilized.

                                                                          Of course, back in the Old Days (like for my parents married over 60 years ago), for Catholics who were married at a Nuptial Mass, they had to fast from food and liquids from midnight; the wedding was in the morning (Mass was prohibited after noon), and then the wedding party, close family/friends and people who came from a distance broke the fast at the wedding breakfast, while other folks went to get lunch on their own. Then everyone convened in the afternoon for a reception with light food, cake and celebratory beverage (champagne or punch - frankly, a great punch is a wonderful thing that is neglected these days) and dancing.

                                                                          Much more civilized than trying to be everything to everyone.

                                                                        2. re: jfood

                                                                          If they wanted to entertain special requests, they would have offered "other." Or "vegetarian."
                                                                          It's just as bad manners as bringing any uninvited guests along. It's not up to the invitee to decide how much extra trouble the inviters can/must go to.

                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                            I expect you'll be at the Palin-Johnston wedding, though? :)

                                                                          2. You can decline or accept. It would very rude to request via the response card, which offers a choice (they didn't even have to offer a choice, just to be clear) but is not to be interpreted as a opening offer.

                                                                            A vegetarian option is not a universal thing in our culture, and is a long way from becoming even nearly universal, though it's not uncommon.

                                                                            1. I am unclear as to why you are surprised they did not have a vegetarian option. They also don't have a kosher one, a gluten free one, a low salt one, a weight watchers one etc.
                                                                              Surely people with food choices/limitations such as these may be attending as well? Remember that fable of the Farmer and the Donkey?

                                                                              I would consider the relationship you have to the wedding party. If it someone you know well, or family, a phone call might help. If it was a more distant relationship, (say, Boss's daughter ) I would just discreetly ask one of the servers ASAP at the reception if a non-meat entree was available.
                                                                              Otherwise, it's up to you. Why are you attending the wedding; for the food, a social obligation or be part of a joyful occasion.cause you want to celebrate with couple?

                                                                              For me, if I could not call and ask about it, I would just choose one, and deal with the idea that I might just be eating sans entree. Or decline the invitation.

                                                                              1. I would be surprised if the caterer did not suggest a veggie option with the couple or that the couple did not suggest one to the caterer. In any event they have not included one. Maybe they discussed it and decided not to bother or maybe it's not a wedding caterer and a friend is catering and does not want to add anything extra to his or her workload.

                                                                                If you don't know the couple well I wouldn't say anything, and if they are close friends or family then call the bride or as others have suggested reply on the card 'is there any chance for something vegetarian'? However, vegetarian can mean many things including fish, lacto/ovo or vegan. Personally I would not make a fuss and just fill up on appetizers, bread and dessert especially if they are not close family or friends.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: smartie

                                                                                  In this case it seems like the obvious veggie option is a veggie kabob, which is why I don't think it would be a big deal to ask. They don't need to modify a dish that much to make it vegetarian- just take the chicken off the kabob and put in more veggies.

                                                                                2. I'm really surprised at how many people think making such a simple request, especially with the wording 'if possible', is rude.

                                                                                  Honestly, every couple I know that has had a dinner at their reception is doing so because they want to host their friends and family to a meal. I know I would be horrified if I found out someone wasn't eating at all because they thought I was too important and busy to be bothered caring that a friend of mine got something to eat on my wedding day.

                                                                                  We are doing a buffet, but we are making sure there are options for our vegetarian, vegan, celiac and diabetic friends and family members. Because we want them to enjoy the day and not have to bring their own food or starve. We want them to have the energy to dance the night away!

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: upsidedownorchid

                                                                                    I have to assume the couple (let's get over the Neanderthal notion that it's only the bride who's doing this) have not been living in a cave up to this point and that they are aware that there are vegetarians in the world. Maybe also assume they've been invited to weddings where there was a veg option. The invitations are out, the options are presented. To make a request at this point is, IMO, out of place. At the least, the couple would probably be embarassed that they were being "called out" for this omission. It's one meal out of one's whole life. Suck it up :) Pretend that it's overcooked chicken or beef and just push it around the plate. Drink alot. Let them eat cake. You get the picture.

                                                                                    1. re: upsidedownorchid

                                                                                      Quine cats reply:
                                                                                      We like the way you think....where is the raw foods option? PS we don't like to dance. can you offer us a Wi-Fi room and games instead? Oh yeah, Granny cat is having back issues so doesn't like buffets and refuses to ask others to get her a plate (Pride ya know) can she have the menu to order from?

                                                                                    2. Am I the only one that thinks this wedding may not be catered by a professional and that's why the omission of a vegetarian option? Having only chicken kabobs and a burger as the options leads me to believe this is going to a fairly modest affair and the cooking is going to be done by a friend or family member.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: bookhound

                                                                                        Exactly what I was thinking! I frankly found it a little odd that people are being asked to choose in advance between a chicken kebob and a burger...that said, I would not, under this circumstance, think it rude to mark the response card next to chicken kebab "veggies only if possible, please".

                                                                                      2. What is more important, you being at the wedding or you getting a veggie meal ?


                                                                                        1. I don't see any harm in writing in "vegetarian entree, if possible." I agree with those who pointed out that this event may not be professionally catered and they might simply have forgotten about this issue.

                                                                                          1. It's not about you. Eat before or after.

                                                                                            1. There is nothing rude or improper about noting "Vegetarian option if available" on the reply card. Vegetarians and vegans are not at all uncommon, and they are fairly easily accommodated by foods and sides that are likely already being served. It is not a burden by any stretch of the imagination. You were invited to the wedding because you are a friend or family member of the bride or groom, important enough to share in this important day. I would imagine that the bride and groom would much prefer for their guests to be able to eat a meal and be happy at their wedding than not.

                                                                                              1. I hate choosing in advance! I am a meat eater, but neither choice appeals to me, nor does any of the usual wedding-fare, so I'm much better off choosing under the gun when the server is there taking orders, and I choose the least offensive.

                                                                                                What would you do if you had to choose at the actual event? Probably ask the server if you could just get veggies, right? My guess is it can't hurt to check chicken and write a quick note asking if you could have a chickenless chicken kabob. I don't see the big offense about it, since you are clearly close enough to this person to be invited to their wedding. We had veg guests at our wedding, and although we were offering the traditional beef, chicken, or fish, I told the caterer that we had 4 veg guests and it wasn't a problem. They made sure that they would offer the table that they were at a vegetarian option. It was really just more of the side veggies, but at least the offer was out there for them.

                                                                                                1. Wow. Just, wow. My brother is getting married on Saturday the 7th. I am very close to him, as well as my almost sister-in-law. I do not eat meat, but guess what, there is no official veg option at their wedding reception. I am thrilled about this because they truly chose to make this occasion only about them. It is not my day, it is theirs. Period. I will make sure to eat enough throughout the day beforehand. I will probably have some Greek yogurt in between the ceremony and the reception. If anything appeals to me in terms of side dishes I will definitely help myself, Otherwise I will enjoy being in the company of FRIENDS AND FAMILY (sorry for shouting). I just can't believe someone would consider even gently suggesting altering the plans of the bride and groom. I doubt the OP intended to come across as a selfish individual, but this mindset sure rings, "Me, me, me."

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. You should be honest. A plate at a wedding can range on average from $100 to $150 easily per person. I am sure that the bride and groom would rather not waste money on food that is not going to be eaten. Most places are prepared for vegetarian/kosher/other dietary needs or at least will try to be accomodating. Better to tell them now then at the reception.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                                                      Are you suggesting that a veg/vegan guest may "cost" less? And surely the caterer will charge a "plate" charge no matter what. That charge would be determined, per guest.not choice. I am looking at what the OP stated as options. Sorta casual. Perhaps a cost factor may drive options. No matter what, I say, just pick one and when the server asks you at table-side, "chicken or beef" say, veggie.

                                                                                                      And the vegans I know would not eat the wedding cake (might have butter, eggs, etc. as well as suspect the veganess of all the foods) I disagree about "most" places being able to provide a Kosher option. That would need a certification, for place, food, items used, served on, etc.

                                                                                                      Again I suggest that the OP look at reason to accept invite. A social obligation? No, Do not "let them know" on that one. As a close friend, a family member, gee look at what enbell said.

                                                                                                      Consider this as well, it's one meal in the life of the OP. It's the wedding of their
                                                                                                      lifetime to the couple.

                                                                                                      I am also thinking that I am a child of the 50's-60's. And have not attended a wedding in a while. So that is sorta a WTF?

                                                                                                    2. I am not vegetarian, but have allergies. For a wedding (or other party event) I would choose an entree that is least offensive (if you don't choose, the bride/groom will have to call), then I would eat a little before, and pack some nuts or something in my handbag in case I become starved. If you can eat something off the plate, great. If not, just let it go. I would concentrate on the social aspect of the event, and not the food. Dance, drink, sleep with groomsmen, whatever.. It is only one meal, and generally at weddings the meal is one of the least delightful aspects.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: maxie

                                                                                                        lol @ sleep with groomsmen.

                                                                                                      2. Dear killerkelly7,

                                                                                                        You have been invited to be a guest at a wedding. Guests do not dictate the menu at a social event, the host chooses the food. It is impolite to second-guess your host(s). If you choose to attend, your job is to be a good guest. Period.

                                                                                                        As many others have suggested, eat before or after the wedding. Your food preferences do not the menu make. Therefore, you do NOT write a "side note" requesting special treatment. Your job is to be a good guest. Period. Eat at another time.

                                                                                                        Proper etiquette is to actually RSVP. Either attend with a glad heart (and already full tummy) or decline, but do RSVP.

                                                                                                        Do not expect the caterers do find something acceptable for you to eat. That is not their job. They have been hired to provide chicken kabobs and sirloin burgers. The caterers should not be expected to pick apart several kabobs to provide you with vegetables. Do your job, be a good guest. Attend with a glad heart for your friends or stay home.

                                                                                                        Expecting special treatment at someone else's wedding is selfish.

                                                                                                        Love, Mom (that part is a joke. Everything else is serious advice)

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Sherri

                                                                                                            Love it.

                                                                                                            Reminds me of when I hosted my parents' 50th anniversary party at my home a dozen years ago (they're still going strong, bless them). When my cousins presented them with gifts after the dinner, my mother was a bit upset and said to me "Why didn't you tell them no gifts?" and I replied into her ear with a big smile "Because you raised me better than that, that's why!* Just remember your job is to smile and say thank you." And then she relaxed and enjoyed herself. They probably received more gifts that time than they had received since their wedding. Not that they needed anything. But they allowed other people to express their appreciation to them, which gave joy to everyone.

                                                                                                            These old social rules do work if you don't fight them. They are not completely arbitrary and capricious.

                                                                                                            For example, in this case, if Guest A makes the side request, she may not only make the hosts feel like they were rude, but she might also irritate Guest B who would have liked another choice but restrained herself from asking and yet sees Guest A's special plate. Things like that happen, and social rules are designed to shift burdens around to avoid those things. When you start re-arranging burdens a different way, you better be prepared to own up to the consequences. And the problem is, most people appear not to be so prepared. Hence the reinforcement of the norms, as it were.

                                                                                                            * That is, it's long been considered rather bad form to forbid guests from giving gifts in this context. We didn't expect gifts, but we weren't going to forbid people from offering them.

                                                                                                          2. I am someone with food allergies who also thinks you should keep quiet about your preference of food. You do not know whether it really would be easy to get an alternate meal. The caterer may charge more for a custom plate, they may put the kebabs together ahead of time and then take them apart to give you just veggies, and they will be marinated with chicken juices, etc.

                                                                                                            At the very least, the fact that there are strongly differing opinions would tell me to not make a special request. You risk offending the bride and groom by essentially pointing out their poor planning and lack of consideration.

                                                                                                            1. I agree that a wedding is about the bride and groom, but I am really surprised by all the posts calling the OP selfish! Maybe there are regional differences or generational difference in play or something, but I really don't think it is a huge deal to inquire about the potential availability of a vegetarian choice. Maybe that's because among young people in L.A. (my demographic) vegetarianism is so common, and I always ask guests about restrictions like this when I have people over informally. At my own wedding, I would have much preferred that someone let me know about this issue and enjoy the day rather than go hungry!

                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Nicole

                                                                                                                I always, always ask too, but hey, some people don't think of it, and some people don't have lots of vegetarian or vegan or whatever friends. I do think it is generational.

                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                  I have lots of vegetarian friends. In my peer group, a guest asking for a choice not provided would be a source of mortification, just a basic misunderstanding of what a guest is and does in this context. Maybe things would be simpler if hosts simply provided no choice whatsoever.

                                                                                                                2. re: Nicole

                                                                                                                  I was wondering about that as well. I'm in my early 30s and have lived in a variety of places where vegetarianism is pretty common among people in my age group and younger. It doesn't seem that big a deal to me to ask about whether it's possible to do a vegetarian option. Worst case scenario is that the couple says it isn't possible and the guest can prepare accordingly. People invite guests they may not see all that frequently, so it's not that hard to forget/not know that people are vegetarian.

                                                                                                                3. If the option is chicken or sirloin I wouldn't think it rude for the guest to write 'neither'/'none (vegetarian)'. It's not demanding special treatment, just stating a fact. Why should they be forced to order something they won't be able to eat?

                                                                                                                  1. I just recently had a wedding and I didn’t want to put the venues’ vegetarian option on the card as a possible choice, the vegetarian options were boring and in my option not all that tasty plus we would be charged extra for adding a 3rd option. I wanted the pork and beef options, they were awesome. However both my sister and my MOH are vegetarians and I was worried that they would not be able to eat (they love the vegetarian option maybe I was a little too harsh about it not being tasty). The venue’s planner told me that most vegetarians know to call the venue and request a vegetarian option so I did not need to include it as a choice, same with people with food allergies. She was right in the end 5 vegetarian meals were requested, not one person mentioned anything to me, they all called the venue directly. It is the Brides & Groom’s day but they have invited you there to celebrate with them and they want you to be happy and enjoy yourselves. In most cases they have paid a lot of money and for one I would have hate for people to go hungry at my wedding due to dietary restraints, especially if I paid for their meal. Contact the venue ahead of time and let them know of your dietary restraints, this way you don’t bother the Bride & Groom in the final days before the wedding and they don’t end up paying for a meal that won’t be touched.

                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Hungry_Ladybug

                                                                                                                      interesting post. I agree that in 9 cases out of 10 the bride and groom really don't want someone to sit hungry.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Hungry_Ladybug

                                                                                                                        I don't know that one could call the venue directly. Personally I'd just suffer in silence. So 5 vegetarian meals where requested directly. But how many vegetarians were there not knowing that they could call ahead directly?

                                                                                                                        1. re: PeterL

                                                                                                                          Assuming there is "a venue" willing to take these special orders ......... my mind is running full tilt toward all the "what-if" possibilities ...........

                                                                                                                          Calling with special requests:
                                                                                                                          Riiing - Hello, I know the bride wants her guests to be very happy. My husband only drinks Macallan 20 year old single malt whiskey and I know he'd be pleased to have this available for him.
                                                                                                                          Riiing -- Instead of the California "champagne" being served to the rest of the guests, the bride wants us to be happy and we prefer to drink Veuve Cliquot Grande Dame champagne.
                                                                                                                          Riiiing -- We know the bride wants her guests to be happy and we really like caviar so please have a caviar service for us.

                                                                                                                          Hungry_Ladybug suggested not bothering the Bride and Groom in the final days before the wedding. My guess is that this will bother them much later; like when they are billed for all the special requests generated by calling the venue.

                                                                                                                          1. re: PeterL

                                                                                                                            And how many of them were annoyed when they saw the vegetarian plates they didn't realize they could have....

                                                                                                                        2. When I got to thinking about our wedding ca 40 years ago I had to chuckle. We did have it in a very nice restaurant, but we were young and frugal and paying for it ourselves. The music was provided by Musac. Except for the champagne toast, guests could choose to drink or not, on their own. There were some nice pass around appetizers. I believe the choice of entree was stuffed chicken breast. Back then I don't recall anybody being a vegetarian. All of our friends were either pretty much just out of the service (we had all been drafted right after garduation) and starting their careers late, and/or starting in graduate school, and just happy to be having a celebration.

                                                                                                                          1. Kelly, you can put in "vegetarian option if available" The caterer will often give a price break to the couple, and it is usually not a big effort. I work in the biz, and it was never a problem for our restaurant to make special vegetarian and kosher dishes.

                                                                                                                            1. Just pick whichever one, and pick around the meat. It's a good bit of extra effort to offer vegetarian entree, if the wedding couple hadn't planned it.

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                                                                Picking around the meat is pretty difficult on a kabob because all the vegetables will be coated in the chicken juices and what is there to pick around on a burger?

                                                                                                                                1. re: bookhound

                                                                                                                                  My suggestion is to consider that they are a guest on a special day with 100 details, and it would be polite to not add any additional stress to the day. By writing in another choice (which is rude by any measure) they are only drawing attention to themselves. As a former vegetarian, I never mentioned it unless asked, in any social situation. I either ate before I arrived, or made do.

                                                                                                                              2. We've had to remove a number of angry responses from this thread, and the discussion as a whole is increasingly unfriendly. We're going to lock this topic now.