Tomi Makanjuola, content creator from The Vegan Nigerian, shares her top tips for planning the perfect vegan wedding.
When I first announced to my family that my husband and I were planning a vegan Nigerian wedding, I was met with skeptical looks and gentle prods to rethink my decision. At one point, a fervent debate ensued at the dinner table. The underlying concerns were clear: how can you have a Nigerian celebration without our traditional food? Moreover, what would guests think?
Fast forward to the wedding day, and those same critics were lining up for seconds and complimenting the tasty renditions of jollof rice and pounded yam with egusi. With careful planning, we had the vegan wedding of our dreams and the event was no doubt an enlightening experience for many of our guests.
Vegan weddings can be a challenge to organise, but with some thoughtfulness and a pinch of creativity, you can make it a heartfelt reflection of your compassionate values.
Whether you're navigating cultural expectations or simply aiming for an ethical celebration, here's your guide to planning the perfect vegan wedding.
1. Vegan Wedding Catering
Curating a vegan wedding menu, especially with the rich and diverse flavours of Nigerian cuisine, was a delightful challenge for us. We enlisted the help of a Nigerian caterer that had experience making vegan food; they were aware of all the necessary tweaks such as using vegetable stock and substituting meat with tofu and other plant-based alternatives.
Appetisers like vegan 'meat pie', spicy suya mushrooms and plantain skewers were a hit. We were able to wow our guests with a buffet feast of well-loved classics such as efo riro with amala, jollof rice, fried rice, moin moin, pepper stew made with vegan chick'n, and desserts that included beautifully garnished puff puff and apple crumble with custard.
Here are some vegan catering tips to keep in mind:
A) Opt for universally appealing dishes
Some of your guests might be unfamiliar with plant-based food, so serve crowd pleasers such as hearty stews, finger foods and vibrant salads made with seasonal produce.
B) Seek out caterers who have experience with vegan menus
It is important to work with the right caterer when designing a vegan menu. This ensures a wide variety of food options and expertise in vegan cooking techniques.
C) Have a tasting session
A tasting session before finalising the menu is the best way to guarantee delicious food and allows you to adjust based on feedback.
D) Ensure that your sweet treats are as delectable as possible
Vegan desserts have come a long way, from decadent vegan chocolate cakes to fancy pastries and fruit pies. If you are planning to have a vegan wedding cake, this is also the perfect opportunity to support local vegan bakeries.
E) Make sure that you are serving vegan wine
One thing to remember is that certain alcoholic drinks, such as wine, can be non-vegan due to the type of processing used. Be intentional about choosing vegan wines or go for other vegan-friendly drink options.
2. Wedding Favours
Although not always necessary, favours can be a nice gesture of gratitude. Here are a few vegan and eco-friendly options that are so good your guests won't forget them on the table or leave them to gather dust at home:
A) Edible treats
Think vegan truffles, spiced nuts, or even personalised spice blends or tea.
B) Plant-based gifts
Small succulents or seed packets make for beautiful, eco-friendly favours.
C) Reusable keepsakes
Engraved bamboo cutlery, handmade soaps or personalised tote bags (which we gave to our guests) can be both practical and memorable.
3. Vegan Wedding Attire
When it comes to vegan clothing, it is all about material. Here are things to consider:
A traditional wedding dress or suit might incorporate materials like silk, wool or pearls. Choose vegan-friendly alternatives and synthetic materials to achieve similar looks for your dream dress, bridesmaid dresses and suits.
Vegan footwear can be just as stylish as their non-vegan counterparts. Whether you're looking for elegant heels, flats or loafers, there are cruelty free and cost-effective options out there that don't include leather or other animal-based materials.
Many jewellers now offer ethical and vegan options, ensuring no harm to animals or the environment in their creation.
The world of cosmetics can be tricky and it is important to do your research and choose products without animal-derived ingredients.
If you're hiring a make-up artist or hairstylist for your wedding, ensure they're familiar with vegan products and have them in their kit.
Foundations and concealers should be marked vegan and should not contain lanolin or beeswax. For lipsticks and eye products, watch out for ingredients such as carmine (a pigment from crushed insects). Opt for brushes made from synthetic fibres rather than animal hair.
5. Decorations and Florals
When it comes to decorating your wedding venue, bring your ceremony to life with sustainable options such as biodegradable centre pieces or reusable ornaments. For our high table, we had an autumnal display that featured fresh fruits, vegetables and leaves.
As for flower arrangements and bouquets, ensure that your florist doesn't use materials like silk ribbons.
6. Managing Expectations
Communication and empathy are key when dealing with scepticism from friends and family, and there are several ways to address concerns. Don't be afraid to share the reasons for your choices, whether they are ethical, environmental, health-based, or all three. Sharing documentaries, articles or even personal stories can further shed light on why you are choosing vegan options for your special day.
Giving your wedding guests a heads up will ensure that they are prepared, but beyond that sometimes the best thing to do is to let the vegan meal and special touches speak for themselves!
In conclusion, a vegan wedding is a joyous way to celebrate love while honouring your values. With meticulous planning and creativity, your big day can be a beautiful fusion of traditional and modern ethical choices. As I learned from my own experience, a vegan wedding can also serve as inspiration to your wedding guests!
Author Bio: Tomi Makanjuola is the content creator behind the award-winning platform The Vegan Nigerian. Her latest cookbook Vegan Nigerian Kitchen is the perfect resource for anyone who wants to dive deeper into Nigerian/West African cuisine and food culture. In there, you’ll find over 100 mouth-watering and accessible recipes. You can follow Tomi on Instagram and Facebook (@vegannigerian) for more vegan food inspiration.
The views expressed by our bloggers are not necessarily the views of The Vegan Society.