Here's how to ensure your food gets the praise it deserves on your big day.


Foolproof Your Vegan Wedding Celebration With These Catering Tips

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Your wedding is a major life event, and not just because you're saying I Do to someone and pledging to be their partner for the rest of your life. (Eep!) There's also that big-stakes component of the celebration that every vegan person about to get hitched has buried in the back of their mind, even if they haven't fully acknowledged it yet: what you serve will be judged, and judged with a uniquely critical lens, particularly by guests of the non-vegan persuasion. This can be intimidating, nerve-wracking, and even a little burdensome, but the two of you—just like all the vegan couples before you—are going to do GREAT, and your friends and family will be RAVING about your food. You just need a little prep time with a vegan caterer to get it right.

Suzy Silvestre of Chive Kitchen in Detroit, MI has catered vegan weddings and special occasions for years, and knows exactly what will please every kind of wedding attendee—even those nitpicky guests looking for every opportunity to find fault with your way of life. (You know who they are!)  Borrow her tips and tricks for creating a magical dining experience on your wedding day, and your guests will be singing veganism's praises long after you've left for your honeymoon.

Appeasing every guest

You’ve made the decision to host a completely vegan wedding—congratulations! Silvestre says you don’t have to advertise it, particularly if you are inviting a mixed company of eaters. The food should speak for itself. After enjoying a multi-course meal of Balsamic Roasted Portabello Steaks with Sour Cream and Onion Mashed Potatoes, Red Wine Demi-Glace and Caramelized Onions, Caesar salad, cheesy baked mostaccioli, and roasted seasonal vegetables, few guests will realize that not a touch of meat or dairy graced their plates. Instead, they’ll be content and curious about what was in that marvelous mashed potato dish. Bonus: unlike heavy animal-based entrées, your guests will feel light enough after a plant-based meal to hop out on the dance floor instead of sitting awkwardly at their assigned tables. 

Caterers like Silvestre focus on flavor and curb appeal—not on missing ingredients like butter or roasted chicken. “When we see our plated dinners come back after service licked clean, we know we hit the mark. I don’t put an emphasis on it being vegan. The emphasis is good food, creative food, and good-looking food,” she said.

Tip #1: You don’t have to advertise that your food is vegan; it should speak for itself! | CHUK NOWAK PHOTOGRAPHY

Custom orders

When asked about popular items served at weddings, Silvestre suggested couples make their decision based less on what’s routine and more on their unique party. Think of dishes and beverages that are sentimental to you as a couple or to your respective families. Do you want to nod to your mom’s famous holiday cheeseball? Is Taco Tuesday marked on your calendars? Does your partner really, really want vegan lobster rolls at your Maine wedding? Work with that and let it guide your menu. A quality caterer should be able to pick up on your vision, likes, and dislikes to create a spread that speaks to you as a couple. 

Silvestre offered just a few examples of custom wedding menus she’s crafted. “I have made a vegan dinner that was Wisconsin-inspired, a New Orleans-inspired, dinner, as well as individual dishes and cocktails that are special and sentimental to the family. I don’t want my clients to design the menu, I want to offer them something special that they did not know they could get,” she elaborated.

Tip #2: Think about dishes and drinks that are sentimental to you as a couple or to your respective families and let it guide your menu. | CHUK NOWAK PHOTOGRAPHY

Must-have hits

While personalized menus will always resonate with the happy couple, there are some edible elements that will have all the guests talking (and the bridesmaids taking note for whenever their special day comes). The portabello steak with sour cream and onion mashed potatoes mentioned above is always a hit according to Silvestre. It beckons a sense of a traditional wedding main while adding plant-based elements of je ne sais quois tasting notes. Expanding on the mashed potato concept, Silvestre admitted that guests can’t seem to get enough spuds no matter what time of year. She suggested a mashed potato bar where guests can help themselves to a variety of savory toppings from vegan cheese to fresh chives and more. Carbs in general tend to please—pasta is also “universally loved,” said Silvestre. 

When we see our plated dinners come back after service licked clean, we know we hit the mark. I don’t put an emphasis on it being vegan. The emphasis is good food, creative food, and good-looking food.”
— Suzy Silvestre

Appetizers, buffets, and plated dinners

Appetizers are a must to keep guests happy and occupied while the wedding party takes its time to get the perfect pictures. Personally, Silvestre loves appetizer stations. While she admits more variety means more money, multiple options enhance the guest experience and allow the food-loving couple to have fun selecting the different light bites. 

When deciding on a buffet versus a plated dinner, Silvestre outlined the pros and cons of each. “I think guests can equally appreciate a buffet or plated dinner. A buffet is more affordable, and it allows guests the opportunity to choose their items and fill their plates. But there is something about a plated dinner that really makes one feel special and taken care of. We do have a lot of requests for family-style dinners which encompass both the buffet and plated. I find family-style fun and a bit more affordable than plated.”

Tip #3: Consider a dessert station. Like a buffet, they allow for more variety and guest interaction. | PAIGE YOUNG PHOTOGRAPHY

Time for dessert

We asked Silvestre about popular cake flavors, and while she provided a few options, she reinforced the concept of customization … and forgoing the traditional tiered cake altogether. Dessert stations are trending, and like a buffet, they allow for more variety and guest interaction. To combine tradition with trend, Silvestre recommends ordering a small cake to display, cut, and freeze for the one-year anniversary coupled with a dessert station showcasing a medley of sweet treats (among which, of course, can include cake in the form of cupcakes or slices). 

Still hung up on cake flavors, we coaxed a few options out of Silvestre. Strawberry basil, lemon-blueberry, mocha, and carrot cake are popular, along with her signature creation: Pink Squirrel. She assured us it is completely vegan. The delight is a rendition of a Pink Squirrel cocktail (creme de noyaux, heavy cream, and white creme de cacao), inspired by a bride’s grandmother. While this may only be available at Chive Kitchen, it demonstrates that you don’t have to go with the standard white-on-white with raspberry filling—get creative and see what your cake artist can do. 

Tip #4: Tiny embellishments and intentional touches help to enhance guest experience. | CHIVE KITCHEN PHOTO

It comes down to the little things

Silvestre emphasized that it’s the attention to detail and unique touches that elevate a wedding celebration. Obligatory wedding favors are in fact falling out of favor, but food-related takeaways are always appreciated. This caterer extraordinaire suggested giving away mini liquor bottles, chocolate truffles, or bottle openers. “One can never have too many bottle or wine openers,” she reasoned. “And to keep it edible, a truffle or piece of chocolate is something that everyone can be happy with.” Personally, we wouldn’t mind taking home a piece of cake as a favor. Cake-sized to-go containers or Tupperware is sure to be a hit if you plan to have leftover sweets. 

Tiny embellishments and intentional touches to every drink served and appetizer enjoyed also help to enhance guest experience. “A guest leaving the ceremony being handed a tiny pink cocktail adorned with a rosemary sprig or fresh flower will start the vibes. The guest might not know that a bit of garnish gave them such joy—they just know that they had a great time,” Silvestre said. 

Tip #5: Forget flowers and blow the budget on food. It’s far more fun! | CHUK NOWAK PHOTOGRAPHY

Sample menu from the soul

After catering hundreds of weddings and events, we had to know what Silvestre would serve at her own shindig. She didn’t hold back. The focal point would be a soul food station complete with vegan fried chicken sandwiches, coleslaw, hot sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, smoky collard greens, mac and cheese, and Caesar salad. But she’s not done. A self-professed partier, Silvestre envisions multiple food stations to keep the guests involved. In addition to the Soul food station, her event would offer a taco station, a carnival station of mini corn dogs and funnel cake, a cold appetizer station lined with salads and canapés, a cocktail station with a wall of margaritas, and a dessert station featuring “a multitude of desserts in different colors and sizes.” 

What we make of this: forget florals and blow the budget on food. It’s far more fun. 

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