Carolyn Hax: Vegetarian-friendly wedding; tending to a medical need


Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

My fiance and I are vegetarians and would like to have a vegetarian wedding. We don’t want to spend money purchasing meat or fish, and feel that a celebration of our union and the home we are making together should not have meat or fish in it.

My parents vehemently disagree, complaining that it’s rude to impose our dietary restriction on our guests, that many older guests do not like the mainstays of vegetarian cuisine (cheese and legumes), and that my father’s dietary need for non-acidic foods requires some meat or fish at the event (tomatoes and eggplant are out).

Our response is that our guests will not suffer if forced to dine on quiche and risotto for an evening, and the caterer can make sure that a majority of dishes have a low acid content.

This is not satisfactory to them. They are contributing some money to the wedding, but we expect to pay for most of it, if that matters. What should we do?


Start working with a caterer on a vegetarian meal, and (within reason) allow your parents to weigh in on the menu. Tell them this is your compromise — that you will work with them to make sure the guests are fed amply without violating your principles.

As for the “It’s rude to impose your restrictions on guests” issue, I believe the range of food permissible within a vegetarian diet is broad enough to satisfy all, allowing me to duck the question of whether the guests’ comfort trumps the hosts’ principles. I believe it’s a case-by-case call, depending on both the principles and (dis)comfort involved for the guests.

I also believe that when people are being unreasonable — say, by declaring they can’t endure even one meal without meat — then the balance automatically tips in favor of the opposing side.

Dear Carolyn:

My daughter is getting married in the fall. My oldest and dearest friend and her husband will be attending the wedding. He has had diabetes for about five years and injects insulin a couple of times a day to keep it under control. It is common practice for him to inject the insulin at the table when we dine out, which I’ve never been comfortable with because he’s not subtle about it. Instead, he makes a big show of holding up the syringe, flicking it to remove air bubbles, and then pulls up his shirt and injects himself. My friend (his wife) is adamant that since this is a medical issue, he shouldn’t have to refrain from dinner-table injections.

I have chosen to accept this during casual dinners, when it’s just us, but I do not want it happening at the wedding, and I’m fairly confident it will. Is there any way I can approach my friend without damaging our relationship?

How Do I “Inject” My Concern?

No. Just accept this as one of the many things you can’t control about people. It will not collapse the tent.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or Subscribe at



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