Meet Clare and Xavier… a funky, creative, happy and passionate couple, based in the Blue Mountains, just outside Sydney. James and I met this special couple a few weeks ago for their pre-wedding shoot. These guys have booked our wedding photography company, Solas, for their Kangaroo Valley wedding in September and we caught up with them, near their home in the Mountains, for an Autumn themed shoot. While chatting we quickly discovered that both Clare and Xavier are vegetarians and in the process of organizing the meat free menu for their big day. Clare kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions and provide some much needed inspiration for those of you out their daring to plan a vegetarian wedding…

What prompted you and Xavier to switch to a vegetarian diet?
There were a few reasons. Firstly, both Xav and I had been discussing the impact of meat production on climate change as animal farming has a high carbon footprint and so we started eating less meat. Then, about a year and a half ago, the Four Corners investigation into live animal exports turned my stomach completely and I felt physically ill about eating meat. Xav and I both agreed that animal welfare concerns compelled us to become vegetarians. We no longer felt comfortable supporting the slaughter of animals for our dinner plate and felt that we would be happier eating a vegetarian diet. Considering I grew up on a sheep farm, this was a significant change for me.
 

How has switching to a vegetarian diet changed your lives? 

A vegetarian diet has changed our lives in a number of ways. We both have become more ardent animal rights supporters, supporting animal rights campaigns online, talking to our friends and family about animal rights issues and reading more about the food we eat. For example, while we aren’t vegan, we are starting to consider our consumption of dairy products as we are not supportive of the slaughter of bobby calves in dairy farms. We have found a great dairy, Barambah Organics, that does not slaughter its bobby calves and this has changed the way we shop.
 
We have both also become much healthier. We have both stayed at a healthy weight (despite our long commute and our sedentary jobs) and we eat much fresher foods. We do not eat any pre-made foods like sauces, soups, frozen foods etc and we are much more careful about what we eat, consuming much less sugar and zero soda. I think that for the first time ever I am actually really thinking about what I am eating!
 
Can you describe the look and feel of your wedding?
We hope our wedding will have a really fun, garden party feel. I am currently trying to make lots of brightly coloured decorations (eek! So much DIY!) and sourcing picnic blankets and comfy cushions for hay bales. We are having it during the day and will have lawn games and a live band. The food will be served cocktail style and we won’t be having a sit down meal.
 
Why is it important to you to serve vegetarian food at your wedding?
We both felt uncomfortable serving meat due to the reasons why we are vegetarian – animal welfare and the high carbon footprint. Furthermore, we both believe that serving good food to our guests doesn’t have to include meat, despite most people’s expectations. Vegetarian food is delicious food and we hope to prove this to each and every disbelieving meat-eater. Lastly, we both want to eat the food at our wedding!
 
Did you receive advice from anyone regarding planning a vegetarian wedding meal?
No, not really! For the reasons above, we both felt strongly about having a vegetarian wedding and so we made our decision quite quickly and did not ask for anyone’s advice. I can be rather stubborn and decisive at times. We did discuss however that we would include a few fish dishes on the menu. We do not eat fish, but this was the one concession we made to those people who may not feel a meal is complete without an obvious ‘chunk’ of protein on their plate.
 
How did you choose your particular caterer and were they familiar with vegetarian catering?
We chose our caterer, Duck Duck Goose Catering, because I noticed that they seemed to be a really popular wedding caterer for NSW South Coast weddings, and because they source their produce locally, including from their own vegetable garden! This really resonated with our own values. 
 
I was a bit hesitant about asking them about vegetarian catering, however I had no need to be concerned. Corrinne from Duck Duck Goose was more than happy to assist with arranging vegetarian catering and was happy to talk through the different vegetarian options they currently have on their menu and provide me with additional vegetarian options. It was exceptionally easy to organise.
 
What dish are you most excited about on your menu? Can you share any of the other dishes? 
I am actually most excited about the desserts! Anyone else drooling at the sound of bitter chocolate tarts with salted caramel? Or brandied custard pots with persian fairy floss? But enough of the desserts, the canapes are mouth watering too. Our dishes include spinach and gruyere tarts with sticky onion and leek crisps, arancini balls with spinach and buffalo mozzarella, mini zucchini and feta frittatas with smoky tomato jam, bruschetta with goats cheese, quince jam and rocket and six more delicious dishes. Yum!
 
Are many of your wedding guests vegetarian?
No. We are only aware of one other vegetarian guest that we know of out of about 130 people!
 
Negative and incorrect stereotypes leave many people expecting vegetarian food to be bland and not satisfying. Of the guests who are not vegetarian, have any expressed concerns? How have you answered/reacted to these concerns?
We haven’t yet received any negative reaction, just a bit of surprise that the meal will be vegetarian. However, we have only really told our family and a few close friends, all of whom know us well and are aware of our views. I think people have actually expressed more concerns regarding our decision to serve only canapes and not a sit down meal.
 
If you could be a fly on the wall during your wedding meal what type of comments and conversations would you expect your guests to have about the food?
We are hoping we will hear everyone stating how delicious the food is and that they overcome any initial reservations they may have had about not eating meat. We are also hoping that guests with perhaps more conservative tastes may be interested in trying different types of vegetarian meals at home once they realise the many different delicious things you can do with vegetables. Eating vegetables shouldn’t be a chore!
 
Can you describe your cake?
We actually don’t have a cake yet – oops. I am so in love with the desserts Duck Duck Goose are serving, plus I have seen the wedding cake go to waste at many of the weddings I have been to, so we thought we wouldn’t have a cake. However, this was met with gasps of horror (much more than when we said we were serving vegetarian food) so we may need to reconsider this decision. My sister wants to make some strawberry shortcake, so maybe we will use that as our cake. She just doesn’t know it yet!
All IMAGES ARE COPYRIGHT Megan and James  SOLAS WEDDING AND PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY 2013.