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March 25, 2014

All Kinds of VEGAN WEDDINGS

This feel-good feature shines a light on the diversity among vegans. Their wedding; their style - some conventional, some unconventional. The thread that binds them is the vegan ethic (no small thing) and the Love feeling that was conveyed through each uplifting Vegan Wedding story. It ALMOST made me want to get married, again! 
JC (Jim) Corcoran and Rae Sikora were married in July 2009 at NAVS Vegetarian Summerfest in Johnstown, PA. “We have both been vegan for decades and were vegan when we met at Summerfest a few years back. For us, part of being ethical vegans is not supporting industries or businesses that engage in animal cruelty. And, we try, as much as possible, not to use up natural resources. There were not any disposables at the wedding and everything was created with re-used materials. Everything from Rae's dress to the canopy material was from a thrift store. We decided to have the wedding at Summerfest because most of our closest friends would already be there and not have to travel. It is also where we first met, so it feels like the Summerfest attendees are our extended family. We chose Howard Lyman to officiate the wedding because we both love him and he has known us both individually for a long time. He was in top form; came wearing shorts, a tee shirt and his Summerfest name tag. He stood his book, Mad Cowboy, up on the podium as the "holy book" and had everyone write messages to us in the book. He made the fire in the fireplace for the ceremony. I decorated the canopy with photos of us as children and various species in our big family and wrote: "It all began here; what brought them together, keeps them together." We made prayer flags with photos of our friends, human and non-human, who could not be at the ceremony. ~~ Fran Costigan, the vegan chocolate queen, made amazing cakes that were served after the ceremony with wine (donated from Frey Wine Company; vegan) and organic juices for the non-alcohol drinkers. ~~ Since we were marrying outdoors, we almost cancelled and were trying to find an indoor place for everything when a thunder storm came through the day of the ceremony. My father advised that I just trust and keep it outdoors as planned. The storm ended just before the ceremony and a giant rainbow appeared in the sky. It was a celebration of LOVE on every level. We focused on the love in our compassionate community and that the love that embraces all humans, all species, and the earth herself - is far more important than romantic love between two humans. ~~ We did not expect 300 people to come, but many attendees at Summerfest wanted to be at the first Summerfest wedding. Brenda Davis, Jo Stepanic, Michael Greger, Richard Schwartz, Colleen Holland, Kerrie Saunders, Joe Connelly, Victoria Moran and many other leaders in the movement were in attendance. ~~ The beautiful music was performed by Harold Brown, Jerry Cook and Rebecca Barnett. We began our part of the ceremony by asking everyone to please speak up in their own communities for the rights of all people to legally marry. Later on, most people came to the Summerfest DJ dance and we all danced like crazy.” ~~ Rae shares: “I feel we have grown even closer since that day we chose to publicly celebrate LOVE. I can easily say that I have found my family, my home and a deep enduring love in my relationship with JC. We encourage each other every day to be the best spokespeople for all life. I am grateful that we found each other. And, I think much of the strength of our love and our relationship comes from our joint desire to bring more compassion to the world and from the amazing and supportive compassionate chosen family we have. Our global vegan community brings us joy and hope and keeps us fueled to work every day on co-creating the world we want to live in.”

Eric Jonas and Susan Cho officially married in April 2010. “The marriage took place during a friend's vegan potluck. The person officiating for us was planning to go, so we decided it'd be easier to get married there, rather than try to schedule some other meeting time with him. A friend later described it as the best wedding she and her partner had attended thus far. She liked the fact that our oaths had no sexist ideas about gender roles, and that nothing detracted from the simple declaration of our love for each other. ~~ We deliberately wore jeans and sneakers, symbolizing the fact that our devotion to each other was demonstrated in our everyday lives, not just during crises of illness, etc. We use resources efficiently and don’t buy new items. Using the potluck was an efficient way to get what we wanted: gathering our friends, making sure everything was vegan, and not wasting any food. Many of the attendees were not only vegan, but also directly involved in various social justice areas. Some are peace activists; one friend worked with survivors of torture and terrorism. Many are involved in education, especially of disadvantaged and underserved populations. Some run humane education programs. One of the founders of VeganMania was also present. ~~ The actual wedding was in Maryland, with family and lifelong friends. No one officiated. We read oaths to each other and then invited guests to participate in a handbinding ceremony. This is a non-theistic ritual where the officiator binds the couple’s hands together with special ribbon. We expanded the idea to symbolize the role of our community in keeping our relationship vital. We encouraged guests to bring some sort of cord or ribbon that had some personal meaning. Our guests responded with more creative and loving gestures than we could have imagined. Eric’s mother and grandmother brought sashes worn to his mother’s wedding. His grandfather brought the bowtie that he wore to his first date with Eric’s grandmother. Two of my friends brought the leash and collar of their recently departed dogs, who had been important to me as well. At our request, no one brought anything that represented violence toward non-human animals. ~~ Among our guests were activists in various social justice movements, protesting war, genital mutilation, international human rights violations, gang-related violence. ~~ After the ceremony, Eric’s grandparents treated everyone to lunch at a nearby vegan restaurant. ~~ I had asked that there be no cut flowers anywhere, since I hate to see an entire industry based on the exploitation of plants. Flowers are a necessary part of a biotic community that includes animals; why would I take them for my own short-lived pleasure? There was no crepe paper or white fabric draped anywhere. A dear friend of ours made our wedding cakes. We used Evite to organize it, so no paper was used for invitations or RSVPs. Although we wore nicer clothes than for the certificate signing, we still used clothes we already had.~~ Eric’s mother also hosted a reception in New Hampshire for their family and friends. The caterers prepared vegan food, which was quite good. As we had for the other gatherings, we wore clothes that we already had. The place settings depicted residents of Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, and there was a sign at the buffet table that gave information for anybody who was inspired to send a donation. ~~ We specified that if anyone wanted to give us a wedding gift, we welcomed financial assistance for Eric’s student loan. This way, we ensured that new items were not purchased for us. ~~ Basically, we managed to get married and celebrate with quite a large number of people, without the usual exploitation of animals, plants, and natural resources. We minimized the manufacturing of new items such as clothes, decorations, and household gifts. Veganism is one important aspect that binds us together; in fact, it was the initial source of mutual attraction. The majority of the people involved were not vegan themselves. We were able to demonstrate a way of living and loving that deliberately minimizes any type of oppression, especially the exploitation of non-human animals.”

Sean Scherer married Queenie Tsui recently married in February 2014 in Hawaii. “Sean; vegan for 8 years and a Naturopathic physician) and Queenie Tsui (vegan for 10 years and an Engineer and Analyst) met in December 2005 during Hurricane Katrina disaster recovery. Sean was deployed as part of Best Friends Animal Society rescue efforts and Queenie decided to spend her Christmas break of 2005 volunteering. Queenie helped Sean make the transition from vegetarian to completely vegan as his January 1st, 2006 New Year’s Resolution. ~ The wedding ceremony and vows were exchanged at an animal sanctuary on Maui, Hawaii. The Reception was at “Spirit of Aloha Botanical Gardens” on Maui. Both sites are run by vegan persons and have the collective mission of promoting the vegan lifestyle to the people of Maui (read more here) Queenie wanted an animal sanctuary to host the wedding as these rescue organizations hold a spot in our hearts due to our collective history. They also provide the opportunity for an outreach opportunity to our would-be guests. After visiting many of the sanctuaries along the West coast (Sean and Queenie live in Phoenix, AZ.) we finally found “the one” when we went to Leilani Farm Sanctuary. The setting is gorgeous and the people there are dedicated and “like-minded”; it was the perfect place to host a vegan “outreach” wedding ceremony! After we spoke with the founder and operator Laurelee, she recommended one of their board members as a potential caterer for our event; this is when we met Brook Le’amohala of Body Temple Gourmet who gave us a quick food sampling and explained her dedication to promoting veganism. We loved her and what she stood for so she became our caterer and point-person in Maui to help coordinate things for us. ~~ Brook recommended that we check out Frederick Honig of the Spirit of Aloha Botanical Gardens. After we met him and he took us on a tour of his beautiful garden paradise and bird sanctuary, he discussed with us what an honor it would be for them to host our 100% vegan event. He also mentioned his mission at the garden to bring the vegan diet back to the native people of Hawaii. Again we found a vegan whose mission and focus in life aligned with ours and so we made the decision to have our reception there. ~~ There was a dinner the night before to get everyone together which was 100% vegan. ~~ The simple ceremony, with no groomsmen or bridesmaids, included tours of the sanctuary with Laurelee telling stories about the animals and tons of awesome photo opportunities. Our vows were exchanged under an alter made of two white Hibiscus trees; which we donated and planted at the sanctuary. The sermon was crafted by our friend and neighbor Russel who spoke beautiful words and highlighted "compassion" as our theme! The sermon avoided any religious references or "man", "woman" references to keep marriage as sacred (and inclusive) as the love with which we enter it. ~~ We had 20 chairs plus 5 large blankets spread across the grass to host our 50 guests. There was a shaved ice table and 100% vegan menu executed with a ton of class. The feedback we received about the food was phenomenal. The reception was held at The Gardens where we offered 100% alcohol-free beverages, vegan appetizers, entrees, desserts, etc. The vegan wedding cake was decorated by my father and his partner; who found the “vegan fondant” we provided them to be better than any other they had ever seen. Every aspect we could conceive was vegan in its essence; our party favors were heart shaped cookie cutters tied to a vegan cookie recipe and vegan soaps from Bubbleshack (local Hawaiian company, handmade on Oahu, all-vegan, available at Target.com nationally). Our table settings were designed with potted plants from Native Nursery (the nursery is responsible for providing the native plants to Hawaii’s statewide re-planting projects to maintain the native flora) which were afterwards donated to be planted. The bouquet used by Queenie was made of “up-cycled” books made by an artist, the dress was recycled (purchased at Goodwill in AZ for $20). ~~ There was a fire dancer performance where the lawn was surrounded by tiki torches, and traditional Hula performance, followed by a Lei ceremony performed by Laurelee’s husband; a vegan doctor. ~~ One of the inspiring aspects about our wedding was the abundant diversity which was brought together, even in just a 50 person sample; there was a diversity of cultures. We did our reception toast in both Cantonese and English for the benefit of some directly from Hong Kong. Guests came in a diversity of religions (Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, Atheist, Mormon, Agnostic), as well as a diversity of politics, even diversity of what a “marriage” is defined as (2 friends of ours that came to the wedding are a same-sex couple, another is a transgender female. I’ve had long discussions with some of my family members where they insist marriage is ONLY between a “man and a woman” and no other arrangement is acceptable. But, when everyone is just being present and living with good intentions (seems to happen more when on vacation, which was one of the motivations for our destination wedding), the blinders go away, everyone just enjoys one another’s company and that kind of positive energy spreads. It was one of our goals for this wedding: to have a spiritually uplifting experience for everyone there. I think this was one of our greatest victories. We successfully created this experience and created the moment we sought. I never thought I’d see the day where my mom and dad were in the same location and didn't argue with each other (divorced for 7 years now). They not only respected each other but were even capable of getting along long enough to pose for pictures together as my parents! We felt an overwhelming sense of compassion, love, and just overall positive energy that day!”

Magic and Golden Rees were married September 21, 2007. “We feel really blessed to have had a wedding in such a beautiful place. We were married in Shangri-la; a beautiful veganic property in the far north of New Zealand. It is a vegan educational centre and is also a sanctuary for all life. No animal products or harmers can come in contact with its 454 acres. The Gentle World community provides a safe haven for humans and animals alike and all of its members are ethical vegans. ~~ Of course the food was incredibly delicious! It was prepared by the world renowned Gentle World chefs. The salads, fruits and veggies were grown in our amazing veganic gardens and orchards. The two tiered Chocolate cake was the best! It was made and beautifully decorated by our dear friend (and vegan blogger) Angel Flinn. ~~ Sun Waldbaum; author and co-founder of Gentle World, opened the ceremony with a dedication to our LOVE together which had grown together with our love for the truth. She then sang "Love the World Away" harmonizing with our friend on the guitar. The sun was shining and blessing the day with bright rays of joy!

Claudia Michaela Potsch and Stefan Fritz Voit married on May, 17th 2014 in Germany. "We turned vegan together about 1.5 years ago. Before that I have been a vegetarian for about six years. When Stefan decided to become vegan I was so proud of him and supported him in every sense. Of course, I didn't hesitate a second to take this step together with him. I love him so much and we both love animals. When we planned our wedding there was no single moment in which we considered including animal products. None of our family members are vegan and a lot of them doubted that a vegan wedding could be fun or that the food and drinks could be even tasty. However, we remained consequent and I even said that I would rather refrain from marrying than harming an animal for our wedding. Fortunately, my husband supported my views and we had a wonderful vegan wedding. ~ We had a very good caterer who prepared organic vegan food and my mum who is very creative in baking taught herself how to bake delicious and beautiful vegan cakes and cupcakes. So our food was beyond any expectations. Our guests really enjoyed the food and some of them even thought that they were eating meat because they didn't recognize the difference. Additionally, we didn't want to support huge companies like the Coca Cola Company, but prefered local organic drinks from our local health store. We even found a really tasty organic coke. ~ Another aspect of our "green wedding" was that I made most of the decoration myself. I used various old things from flea-markets and upcycled them, so that they would make beautiful parts of our decoration. I painted, for example, old picture frames white and used them for table signs. Another example are the old wooden baskets for the flower girls and boys. I also painted the baskets white and decorated them. I enjoy using old things and giving them a new live instead of buying new things that have to be produced for me. Something very special are the old vases and tea pots which I upcycled as wedding decoration. Here is a link to some pictures of them (German and English). ~ Moreover, my husband and I didn't want to use cultured or even exotic flowers as decorations for the wedding tables, but decided to go for the more environmental-friendly way: wild flowers picked from a nearby meadow. The cute thing was that my dad and brother gathered a lot of beautiful flowers the day before our wedding. Furthermore, when it came to the decision which dress I should take, my first declaration in the wedding gown boutique was: "I don't want any silk, fur, wool, leather or other animal products included in my dress and shoes." I am so happy that I succeeded in finding my perfect and fully animal-friendly wedding gown. ~ We had a very beautiful wedding and I would recommend anybody to go for a vegan and green wedding. If you are interested in other aspects of our wedding, feel free to visit my blog michaelavoit.com

Photo credit: 'I heart weddings'
Clare Middlemas and Nathan Verney had a 'commitment ceremony' on 20 April, 2013 at Lamont's Bishop House in Perth, West Australia. “We have been together 7 1/2 years, and we decided to go vegan together 5 years ago. We haven't looked back since! We chose to have a commitment ceremony to celebrate our relationship, but didn't want to legally get married because as feminists we object to the institution of marriage itself. We really wanted to create an event that reflected our values, so it was very important that we have a vegan wedding. ~~ The first thing we did was try to find a vegan-friendly venue. We wanted to have a cocktail-style reception, and Lamont's restaurant staff was more than happy to create a custom vegan fine-dining menu for us. The food was amazing! All of the guests commented on how much they loved the food, even though many of them were skeptical at first! Although Lamont's wine isn't vegan, they were also nice enough to let us bring in our own wine! So we ordered Yalumba 'Y' series wine through our local bottle shop and the waiters served that to our guests. We also ordered cupcakes through a small local business called Cupcake Decorate. They had never made vegan cupcakes before but were happy to give it a try! The cakes were delicious and looked so cute! The other vegan food challenge was the lolly buffet. This was even more of a challenge because we also wanted pink and white lollies to match our theme! It took a lot of research and reading of labels, but we got there in the end. ~~ We took care to make vegan choices when deciding on our wedding outfits. Many wedding dresses that appear vegan are made with a silk underlay. That, along with the fact that Clare had a very specific vision in mind for the dress, led her to go with a couture dress. Louicol designs designed her dream dress, and they also used a polyester underlay instead of silk at Clare's request. Nathan got a poly and cotton blend suit and had his shoes custom made from Vegan Wares. ~~ We went with a vintage-rustic theme for the decor, and had lots of tea-light candles in jars scattered throughout the venue. We sourced these vegan candles from Soy Delicious Melts. ~~ Organising a wedding is difficult; organising a vegan wedding is a bit more challenging! We spent so much time online researching - we are now experts in men's suits, wine, etc.! But we learned that all you need to do is ask - our venue had never created an entirely vegan menu for an event before, but they jumped at the challenge and did an excellent job. Same goes for our cake maker. We found that when we explained what we were after, vendors were very willing to help, and our guests appreciated trying something different too! It is definitely possible to create a beautiful, classy vegan wedding, even in sleepy old Perth. It turned out to be a beautiful day and a perfect expression of who we are as a couple.”

Tereza Vandrovcová and Silvestr Vandrovec Špaček (Silvestr Špaček before the wedding) were married in Prague on 21st September 2013, at the gardens of Vyšehrad Castle. They are both vegans. “We first met as animal rights activists in 2009 and have become friends immediately. Unfortunately all the time at least one of us was always engaged so it took some time before we started dating. We became a couple on 21st March 2012 and we started living together the same day, because we knew that this was it. We scheduled our wedding on our one and a half year anniversary. ~~ The spiritual theme of the ceremony was love in terms of The Art of Loving by psychologist and philosopher Erich Fromm: not just as a strong feeling but as a skill involving care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge. ~~ The outdoor ceremony started at sunset and was celebrated by an agnostic Unitarian reverend. We composed our own rhymed wedding vows. There were about 80 participants. Instead of throwing rice the guests had bubble blowers and we walked through a cloud of bubbles on our way from the altar. Despite strong gender stereotype and disagreement of the family, the groom took the last name of the bride. ~~ The wedding catering was all vegan. First there was a family dinner right after the ceremony, which was provided by a new posh Prague vegan restaurant "loVeg". Although none of our family members are vegans, they enjoyed the dinner very much. We've had pumpkin soup, Thai coconut curry with jasmine rice, and vegan wedding cakes from another Prague vegan restaurant 'Loving Hut'. After the dinner we arranged the afterparty with plenty of vegan snacks (pasta salads, sandwiches, spreads, veggies) and sweets made by the bride’s mother and her best friend. We had also five kinds of vegan wedding cookies custom-made from a vegan baker. There were no complaints and even non-vegans enjoyed the food very much. ~~ Our first marriage dance was accompanied by the song "Why must we eat the animals". ~~ We remain animal rights activists and we even host a weekly meeting of the group called Open Your Eyes.

Louise Ryan and Ronnie Lee were married at Kidderminster Register Office (Worcestershire, England) on June 29th, 2002. “Both of us were (and still are) vegan. We had lived together for over 9 years before we got married and were both vegan when we met. Due to lack of finances we had our reception at Louise's sister's house; just close friends and family were invited. Louise and her mum prepared all the food, which was totally vegan. Most of the attendees were vegan, but even the few that weren't really enjoyed the food. It was an absolutely lovely day for both of us, despite having to do it "on the cheap" and, although we'd lived together for a long time before the wedding, we both felt our relationship was even more special after getting married. Personally, I don't understand why so many people spend a fortune on their weddings when we had such a wonderful day for only a couple of hundred pounds! Louise and I are both animal liberationists and believe that educating people to become vegan is vitally important to the animal liberation struggle. It's great being vegan, but just being vegan ourselves is not enough, if we want a world where other animals are no longer persecuted by human beings. That's why we're active members of our local vegan outreach group, doing street stalls and other events to take the vegan message to ordinary people. This is something I'd urge all vegans to do. We have to get out there and change people. Eating vegan cake and swapping recipes between ourselves is not going to save other animals from oppression!”

Kate Lawrence and Keith Akers, married February 11, 1989 in Denver. “We recently celebrated our 25th anniversary. A Denver newspaper considered our wedding newsworthy as a Valentine story because it was so unusual at that time to have a vegan wedding. Both Keith and I were vegans when we met in 1988, and that's what brought us together. The wedding vow we made to each other was one we wrote ourselves: "Do you take Name to be your companion, friend, and partner in marriage; to love, comfort, encourage and honor him/her, and to live with reverence for all life?" The officiant said the following: 'Kate and Keith have been drawn together through their vision of respect for all creatures, a vision of peace and prosperity for all people and the planet. In their hearts the love they are pledging to each other today goes far beyond their own personal relationship to encompass a way of life and a message to share with all people.' ~~ The food at the all-vegan reception was catered by our friend Radha. ~~ A bit of humor is that the top of the cake had (at our request) a lion and a lamb made of frosting. The joke going around was, which one of us is the lion and which one the lamb? ~~ Keith is the author of A Vegetarian Sourcebook (the book that brought us together), The Lost Religion of Jesus, and newly out in late 2013 is Disciples: How Jewish Christianity Shaped Jesus and Shattered the Church. ~ His blog. I am the author of The Practical Peacemaker: How Simple Living Makes Peace Possible and my blog. We are currently organizers of the meetup.com group Denver Vegans.

Colleen Mahoney Wedler and William Wedler were married on January 4, 2014. Colleen shares: “We had a vegan wedding at the Union Project, located in the Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh. At the time of the wedding we were both vegan, happily. I have been vegan over 6 years, and helped William to transition to veganism over the course of our relationship. He has been vegan for well over a year now, and he loves it. We had 70 guests for a brief, secular ceremony and we wrote our own vows. We mentioned our shared vegan lifestyle in our ceremony, since it is such an important aspect of our shared life together. Most of our guests were omnivores, which did not stop them from loving the food. Although our wedding was their first, Randita’s Organic Vegan Café did an excellent job catering, without the convenience of a kitchen at the venue no less. The dinner included: Kale and Bean Soup, Roasted Root Vegetable Salad, Eggplant Moussaka, and Lentil Loaf with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans. Some of our guests ate a gluten-free diet, so we decided to have the food be so as well. All night I had people who had probably never consciously eaten a vegan meal before compliment me on the food, saying it was the best wedding food they had ever had. This was a huge victory for us, since we were a bit worried about how our non-veg guests would react to the food. Our cake was done by My Goodies Bakery, which specializes in vegan and gluten-free baked goods. We had a Chai cake with Almond icing and an assortment of cupcakes; some of which were gluten-free to accommodate our guests. Later on in the evening we had popcorn from Pittsburgh Popcorn, as well as vegan beer and wine all night. William and I made sure that our ensembles were fully vegan: I wore vegan flower-printed Toms shoes, and an organic cotton hand-woven jacket, while he wore Vegetarian shoes, a polyester tie, and a black cotton suit jacket from Target and black pants he already owned. You would never know to look at him how cheap his outfit was, and his groomsmen were more than a little jealous. We did not ask our guests to dress in vegan attire, but it was important for us to do so, and we made a point of telling people about our choices. I am an active participant in the Pittsburgh Vegan Meetup, which has over 1,000 members, and I am also a committee member for Vegan Pittsburgh. Vegan Pittsburgh seeks to connect business owners and the vegan community by increasing the visibility and accessibility of vegan dining, goods, and services. I have met some of our guests through these two avenues and it was wonderful to have vegans there to fully appreciate the vegan wedding experience. One vegan guest said “Everyone’s vegan tonight!” My Maid of Honor is also vegan, and we started our vegan journey more or less at the same time. My parents are traditional in some ways, and paid for the wedding. We were so grateful that they never put up an ounce of resistance. The night proved to be magical in every aspect, and I ate and danced the night away (William danced with me when I asked!). We were thrilled that we not only had a beautiful and joyful wedding, but that our special night put the vegan lifestyle in a completely positive light, and impacted every person who attended. I feel so fortunate to have found a man so willing to learn about the vegan lifestyle, and to embrace it as his own.”

Margaret Simpson- Coughlin married Michael Coughlin on the 29th of December, 2013. “We married on our 7 year anniversary of being a couple...to the day ....of our first kiss as adults. We dated for two weeks when I was 14 and Mike was 15. I broke up with him because I loved our friendship so much that I wanted to preserve it. ~~ We are proud vegans, so a vegan wedding reception is the only kind of wedding reception for us. We invited all of our South Florida vegan friends as well as lots of nonvegans. We had 100 guests and about 85 of them stayed for our 100% vegan reception. The non-vegans raved about how surprisingly good the food was; some even said they were converted. They were astounded at how awesome the cake was and confessed they were afraid of trying vegan food because it was foreign to them. My father was so glad to see sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes as he recognized those items as food! ~~ Our theme was a holiday/Christmas wedding; everything was white and red. The food was half traditional holiday dishes and half Mediterranean. Our dear friend Brook Katz made Tofurky, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, vegan dinner rolls and salad. We offered an awesome Vegan Cashew Cheese served with crackers made by Katherine of Ethical Bounty. Everyone was amazed cashews could be made into a delicious cheese. Natasha and Nicole of Inika Foods made a vegan wedding soup, stuffed mushrooms, grape leaves, spanakopita, hummus, grilled veggies, baklava, vegan cream and fruit tarts and two gorgeous wedding cakes. The first wedding cake was white with edible red roses, leaves and vines and had Beauty and the Beast on top. It was an amazing vanilla cake with red plum filling. The second wedding cake was white with edible snowflakes, vegan pearls, and white poinsettias. It had Cinderella and Prince Charming on top. It was an awesome vanilla almond cake. We have the edible top of each wedding cake in our freezer, which we will eat on our 6 month anniversary and the other on our 1 year anniversary. ~~ We had 17 people in our wedding party. Mike made my wedding bouquet, all our bridesmaid bouquets, and boutonnières for all of our groomsmen. Our florist friend was unable to get a flight so Mike was up nearly all night assembling flowers the night before the wedding. They were beautiful red and white long stem roses. We also had a beautiful Rose Exchange Ceremony; a loving technique to put a rose in a vase in our home when one of us needs to talk about something important, to work out a solution, and to remember to resolve everything with love. ~~ Everybody said they loved the food, were touched by the non-denominational ceremony and had a great time. Chef Brook put out signs that the food is vegan and free of cruelty. ~~ Our wedding was at Center for Spiritual Living. They honor all religions and people from every walk of life. We have met many unaffiliated vegans there and many potential vegans. In fact our friends Keith and Elena have started a vegan support group at our Center for Spiritual living.”

Photo credit: gpix photography Australia
Tim Peters and Judy Bastian were married at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens October 2013. “The day was filled with beautiful bright sunshine! Around the time we became engaged we made a mutual decision to become vegan, both having been vegetarian previously. This meant that we wanted to remain true to our new convictions when planning for our big day. We also wanted our wedding day to be fun, enjoyable and reflect who we were both as individuals and a couple. ~~ We chose to get ready together and walk hand in hand through the gardens to where our ceremony took place. It was a relaxed ceremony filled with laughter and we even managed to surprise the celebrant when we chose to ad lib in a few instances. ~~ Our after party was held at ‘Bliss Organic Garden Cafe’ where we enjoyed a mouth-watering spread of vegan food and drinks. Only 3 of our 80 invited guests were vegan so it was really important to us to make a lasting good impression of what vegan food was. We also asked that the vegan groceries and other goods be left out on display for our guests to see and buy if they should choose. Our delicious cupcakes were made by ‘The Fakery Bakery’ and were snapped up in the blink of an eye – we were so glad that there were two reserved especially for us! ~~ Overall we had the best day; it was all that we had hoped for. We have received so much positive feedback from friends and family alike about how much they enjoyed our day and in particular how delicious the food was. Many of them admitted to being skeptical about it prior to the day, but were blown away by the quality and variety of food that was offered.”

Jacquie Szalay married Carey Smith at Nutcote, Neutral Bay in December 2012 in Sydney, Australia. “My name is Jacquie and my husband's name is Carey, we met in 1996 when we were in high school in the USA. Being from different countries it was easy to lose touch but when we got back in touch nearly 20 years later, we knew we had always meant to be together. I had a vintage 1900's Edwardian wedding dress so I wanted to focus the wedding around that theme, an "Edwardian garden party".  We were on a tight budget so it was a very do-it-yourself  affair. We had a stand up garden ceremony by the water followed by a garden party reception under a marquee at a heritage home on beautiful Sydney Harbour. We wrote our own vows and kept the ceremony somewhat traditional. Our celebrant was a real character. She turned up late and had forgot the ceremony notes, signing table and microphone which didn't help my stress levels nor did it help people to hear when the ceremony was interrupted by gale like winds! Luckily the wind died down toward the end of the ceremony and we had perfect wedding for the rest of the day. I decorated the tables with lace doilies and crystal vases and flower arrangements. I had vintage tea cups and lemonade stand. My dad provided all the alcohol which he made sure was vegan. Although my husband isn't vegan it was important after being a vegan for the past 3 years that I had my wedding be entirely vegan. A few of my friends who attended were also vegan so they definitely appreciated having so much choice! All the food and wine was vegan. I made some of the food myself such as the cucumber sandwiches and cupcakes but the rest of the finger food was ordered from a local vegan cafe. I am also gluten intolerant so some of the items had to be both vegan and gluten free. Honestly no one realised the food was vegan until I told them and they only thing they didn't like were some savoury muffins I had made which frankly had got really hard quickly! The venue was gorgeous. We had a string trio play classical music. The day feels like a dream now, everyone had a wonderful time and it was a really special day. I think the casual setting really allowed everyone to let their hair down and made it more social. I had a lot of people tell me afterwards that it was truthfully the nicest wedding they'd been to because it was so unique and felt so casual. If anyone is interested in pictures or more details they are on my blog here  ~~ Soleil Handmade Soaps - vegan soaps made by me. Soleil Handmade Soaps - facebook page 

Just before the wedding
Ann Hawks married Ferrol Johnson in September of 2010. “We were married in Bloomington, Indiana, overlooking beautiful Lake Monroe. Earlier that year, in January, we both became vegan after watching several videos showing cruelty found in factory farming and the abuse specifically inflicted on dairy cows. Honestly, we were horrified. The first thing my fiancé asked me was "what are we going to eat?" I replied, "I have no idea." We would eventually come to find out what a blessing veganism was and is to our lives. The food simply tastes better and the spiritual connection to animals and our planet flourished. ~~ For the wedding reception, all the food was purchased by us and prepared by a local chef who is also a friend. We served Gardein "beefless tips" and vegetable kabobs along with coleslaw and baked beans. I called it a "fancy" picnic wedding! The vegan cakes were made by a local baker and were so delicious. We had several different flavors including Holy Strawberry and Black and White cake. ~~ References to our respect for all animals were included in our vows and all guests were asked to make a donation to Farm Sanctuary in lieu of any gifts. We wanted our wedding to be about family, love and compassion for all beings, and that is exactly what we did!”

Rosanna and Aaron's Vegan Wedding on October 5th 2013 ~ "We had a Vegan wedding, the idea of which at first scared my Mother! We are Irish and it's unheard of not to have meat for every meal! My husband and I live near San Francisco (where it's not as unusual to be sans meat) with our two rescue pups, Marnie and Reggie. ~~ We decided to get married in Dublin, Ireland at The Shelbourne Hotel, a beautiful historic building where the Irish constitution was drafted. So because I am in California, my wonderful sister did a lot of the tasting and organizing, along with the help of other family members. ~ Solving the problem of a vegan dress was very tricky and in the end I had to settle on rayon though I wish it could've looked a little silkier. It was a beautifully made dress though... very old Hollywood and non traditional. ~~ The guests adored the meal, almost all telling me how it was the best wedding meal they had ever had and were surprised... as they had been WARNED by my mother! The chef did an incredible job, including a wonderful mushroom pastry dish, bulgar wheat salad, celeriac soup... and I had had a cake made in the west of Ireland, which was transported by train by the baker herself! It was an incredible rum raisin creation which we decorated with little ceramics of our dogs. I wanted our dogs to be part of our day, but sadly they couldn't be there so they were represented on the cake. Our rescue pups mean the world to us. I am a painter and presently working on a series or paintings in oil of rescue dogs, drawing attention and awareness to the plight, pain and recovery of unwanted dogs. My love of dogs is part of why I became vegan, as they made me understand how all animals should be loved and treated well. ~~ Our wedding was a Humanist wedding, celebrating the beauty of union, our family and friends and love.. we had poems read, cello played and kept it short, sweet and happy but respectful. ~~ I am so happy that we made the effort to have our wedding vegan. It was beautiful, memorable and unique. It was also wonderful to be able to draw attention to veganism in this way.

Robert and Simone Lea married 22 December 2012 at Mermaid Beach, Queensland, Australia. They are both vegans. “I was vegan first then Robert one year later so 2010 and 2011. We had a super casual wedding, in the outside garden at Mandala Arts Café. The wedding invitation was entitled "A very vegan wedding". All vegan food and wedding cake. Guest gifts were vegan soaps in the shape of pigs. All guests loved the food and especially the cake; it was all eaten. All the attendees were nonvegan. Instead of eating animals - shepherd them, we are born without speciesism so why teach it? Live kind, live vegan."

Diana Waldron and Elizabeth DeCoux were married in January 2009 at Dog Chapel in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, about six and a half years after meeting online by virtue of their vegetarianism. "When we learned of the Dog Chapel’s existence, we knew we'd found the right place. Our dogs are important members of our family, and we had wanted to schedule a winter trip up north for our one snow-loving dog before he got too old. The chapel honors the relationship between humans and dogs, and our three dogs participated in the ceremony. ~ Despite our having a “destination” wedding, we wanted to rely as much as possible on the talents of our friends and family to make it a very personalized experience. My mother hand-made our invitations. My aunt performed the ceremony. My sister and my oldest friend escorted the dogs during the ceremony. My uncle took photographs. My second mom made my dress based on my design. My sister baked and decorated the cake. I carried the bouquet from my other sister’s wedding. My sister and my oldest friend organized a games night the eve of our wedding for all the guests (vegan, with delicious Thai food from a local restaurant). Various friends and family did readings during the ceremony, held the broom for us to jump, and helped in countless ways that made the celebration a very special gift. ~ We don't believe in starting a marriage in debt because of an extravagant wedding; our investment is in our marriage. Aside from the rings and our honeymoon cottage rental, the entire event probably cost under $1000. We held the reception in the cottage where we honeymooned. We did our own hair and makeup. Guest favors were reusable heart-shaped hand-warmers, perfect for the unheated chapel in the Vermont winter. We wrote the ceremony ourselves, including our vows, and designed and printed the programs ourselves. We didn't see a need for flowers or other decorations. Our ceremony honored our Earth-focused spirituality and we had a traditional handfasting cord, woven of items personally significant to each of us. Our vows included the phrase “with my whole heart’s intent that this be a lifelong bond” in place of the usual “until death do us part,” because we recognize not all marriages remain good for both parties indefinitely, as we would never want to be bad for one another. We walked down the aisle together instead of being “given away.” ~ We were vegetarian when we met and had gone vegan together. There was no question that our wedding would be vegan. We had a sumptuous vegan meal prepared by a local caterer. My sister baked the vegan cake from a beloved family recipe. Our clothing was vegan and mostly cotton. None of our guests were vegan, yet the food was highly praised, with many return trips to the buffet. We registered with the Center for a New American Dream’s alternative gift registry.

Raghav H V and Preethi Shankaran were married in Chennai (South India) on December 9, 2012. "We got to know of each other through a social networking site. We first met after just 7 months of already being madly in love with each other. We turned vegan together after watching a video about the horrors in the Indian dairy industry. We were aware of the term veganism but the video woke us up! We turned vegans overnight and never desired anything that belonged to another species ever after November 2011. Ours was a traditional big fat vegan south Indian wedding which meant NOTHING in the wedding was non-vegan. The food, our clothes, our make-up, decoration everything was taken care of. Our photographers were vegan too. South Indian wedding ceremonies use ghee (clarified butter) milk for their holy ritual which we carefully replaced with oil and soy milk respectively after much struggle. Our invitation included a small write-up about veganism, the sufferings animals have to unnecessarily undergo to meet our greed and need, a request to donate to PETA and Blue Cross of India instead of giving us money/gift and even requested the guests to sport cruelty-free attire. To our surprise almost everyone who attended our wedding obliged. Donation boxes from PETA and Blue Cross if India were kept at the two-day wedding venue. It felt absolutely great to have successfully planned and executed a complete vegan wedding. We tried our best to have a win-win situation for both our families and us (for veganism)."

Rima Danielle Jomaa and Pete Genender were married March 10, 2014 in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Rima and Pete had been acquaintances for years, and began dating after Pete expressed interest to Rima about turning to veganism. Rima had been an outspoken vegan for 3 years then and Pete asked her for tips on converting to a vegan lifestyle. They dated for 11 months before Pete proposed and were married 4 months later. ~ The wedding reception was catered by three vegetarian Costa Ricans. They were so excited to cater the wedding and delighted guests with their creativity and presentation. They created Indian-inspired arrangements including hummus, eggplant wraps, carrot and beet sesame salad, cashew-cheeze stuffed mushrooms, an assortment of Indian dishes (cauliflower coconut curry and Paneer - a spinach and tofu dish, among others), fresh made vegan Naan, and more! The guests were apprehensive at first about an all-vegan wedding. They exclaimed repeatedly, however, how amazing the food was and how it blew their expectations out of the water! Every single guest had seconds and thirds of the appetizers and we had to warn them to save room for dinner! Cake was a gluten-free, vegan strawberry shortcake with coconut whipped cream and was to live for. Pete and Rima's dear friend, Adi, made the cake as a gift. Even the cynics loved it and not even a slice remained. ~~ The officiant, Marcelo Galli, is a well-known vegan activist in Costa Rica, as well as being the top wedding officiant and lawyer in the country. It was an honor to have him as officiant and guest of the ceremony. The ceremony itself was imbued with animal rights sentiment and quotations, wrapping all the love and compassion together. The ceremony was held in the jungle and there were howler monkeys howling throughout the ceremony, as if they could feel the energy surrounding the event. It was a truly magnificent occasion which opened the minds and hearts of the wedding guests and gave them an introduction to a vegan cuisine and lifestyle.

Rithika Ramesh and Kaushik Ramakrishnan were married in Mumbai, India on 5th June 2011. The bride is vegan. She was not vegan when they met. "Ours was a traditional South Indian Ceremony. The bridal trousseau involves silk saris and the ceremony involves using milk and milk products. My trousseau consisted only of cotton saris. We are also supposed to gift saris to my aunts and all of those were cotton too. My jewelry also had faux pearls on it. One part of the ceremony involves the bride and groom to sit on a swing and the aunts feed them a mix of  bananas and cow's milk. We changed that to soy milk. The food was catered by a local caterer.The food at a south Indian wedding is always vegetarian and is served on a banana leaf. We asked the caterer to avoid using milk products in the dessert." More Facebook photos of our traditional Indian wedding.

Iain and Monika Lewis were married 8th March, 2012. "We are both vegan and have been for approximately 4 years. Monika was vegetarian since 10 years old and when she met Iain, he switched to vegetarianism without any pressure at all. The more we read about vegetarianism, the more we realised, we should be vegan. We both happily became vegans together. We see each other as vegan soul mates. From the moment we first met, we were inseparable. ~~ We have both been married before - unhappily.  Neither of us were interested in a traditional wedding the second time round. We wanted something that suited us; after all, this was our day. We are an awkward couple in that Iain is English, Monika is Swiss, and we live in France, so there were bureaucracy and language barriers to consider. Because Iain is British, Gibraltar was an easy, fun option. We also liked the fact that John and Yoko got married there; we stayed at the same hotel - the Rock Hotel. So we had done the same, without any guests, just a couple of hired witnesses. We wanted the day to be about us. The simplicity was bliss. The agency medweddings.com did a great job organising a vegan meal for us by the marina. ~~ Later that day, after the photo-shoot and the wedding meal, and after the tourist tour around Gibraltar, we came across the Cafe Madeleine, where we had our evening meal, which was superb. It wasn't just that the meal was great, but the dessert was rather simple and special - fresh, organic oranges from neighbouring Spain, picked that same afternoon. You can't beat fresh fruit for vegan wholesomeness! ~~ We were not too interested in a wedding dress, hence the jeans and shirts (and shoes from vegetarian-shoes.co.uk)! On the overall, HappyCow.net was an invaluable guide. On the way to Gibraltar we stayed in Marbella, Spain for a few days before and after. We chose our hotel to be within walking distance from the all-vegan Loving Hut restaurant where we must have tried nearly all the options on the menu.

Kellie and Eddie Blume were married in July 2008, in Queenstown New Zealand. “We've both been vegetarian since 1998, vegan since 2007. We became vegan in the lead up to my friend’s wedding and I was heavily involved in helping her organise it, being her maid of honour. During all the usual crazy wedding stress, Eddie and I decided that a big wedding was not for us, and as my friend’s wedding plans were being finalised, our wedding plans were beginning, in secret! We had decided to elope, and to tell no one about it. Seeing as it was going to be only us two, there was no concern about it conforming to our vegan beliefs. We knew we wanted to elope somewhere exciting, somewhere that we needed to travel to and enjoy a pre-wedding holiday and a post-wedding honeymoon all at once. I did a lot of research into the usual ‘destination’ wedding places – Fiji, Vanuatu, Hawaii. All were options, but nothing jumped out at us. Then, one day I saw a flight sale to New Zealand and the decision was made. We’d be getting married in New Zealand and we’d be doing so in the middle of a Southern winter! It worked perfectly for us, two people who love the cosiness of a snow capped mountain and a warm fire. As it turned out, New Zealand is also a great place for destination weddings and there were numerous options to choose from. We ruled out one all-inclusive package due to the calfskin and hunting trophies on the restaurant walls, another place because they weren’t so receptive to our inquiries about making a ‘reception dinner for two….vegan style’. We decided on a wedding package at a little privately owned bed and breakfast in a small town just outside Queenstown, the New Zealand ski capital. The owners of the B and B (Trelawn Place) organised the wedding, the paperwork, a cake, and photographer, and they were very open to making sure the cake was vegan. As it turns out, we decided to stay in a hotel in Queenstown centre rather than at the B and B, as it suited us better, and so we enquired with hotels about their restaurants being able to organise a special wedding reception menu for the two of us. The head chef at the Hotel St. Moritz got in touch with us quickly and was very receptive to our requests, taking all of our requirements and designing a lovely dinner for us for after the wedding. We explained that we also required a vegan wine to enjoy with our meal and they researched some local wineries for us, finding us a lovely bottle of red from a small, vegan friendly local cellar door. ~~ I also located a local hairdresser who used vegan friendly and non-animal tested products and who took bookings for wedding hair and make-up. I had to bring a few of my own make-up pieces however and non-animal make-up brushes, but they were very welcoming and happy to help us so as to ensure all aspects of our wedding were vegan, even the hair spray! ~~ The wedding itself, for us, was perfect! No nerves, no worry. Just us! We sourced some animal-rights quotes from the internet to include in our wedding vows. The celebrant did stumble a bit over the word ‘sentience’, but we were having such fun that it didn't matter!

Bianca Zvorc Morris and Charlie Morris were married the 5th of November 2011, in Murska Sobota, Slovenia (Bianca’s birth town that she left at age 16). “We pre-ordered two vegan menu options - in a non-vegan restaurant. I asked the attendees to respect my wish for a vegan wedding, and out of respect for us, they all ate vegan. Luckily we have very open minded friends and family. We had another party in NYC and Boston 1 month later (Christmas time). My husband is from Boston, and I grew up in Manhattan, where we met in 2007. We met on Facebook actually. ~~ We made our wedding clothes and accessories under my brand BeeZee EcoKid (on Facebook) (vegan, fair trade, natural, ethical, locally made in Slovenia - my low profit social and sustainability awarded EU project helping women that lost jobs because of cheap poisonous Asian clothes. I illustrate for my brand and it is all animals. There's also a vegan messages line "Viva La Vegan Revolution". ~~ I wore old shoes (fake leather) because I could not get any appropriate vegan shoes in the small town in Slovenia. Since I am vegan for 21 years and Charlie 4 years, everybody knew it would be a vegan wedding. The food in Slovenia, NYC and Boston was amazing so nobody was complaining. ~~ I am mentor for Slovene Vegan Society where I help young people switch to vegan diet.

Jessica Crisp married Samuel Pourasghar at a service at Fynn Valley Golf Club in Ipswich on June 28th 2013. "I've been vegan about 3 years, and helped my husband convert to a vegetarian lifestyle, and he's on the way to veganism. We agreed that it would be only right for the wedding to be 100% vegan, and we wanted to show our guests how incredible vegan food is. It took a while to find a venue that didn't either fob us off with boring food (one of them offered us pasta in tomato sauce as our main wedding meal!) or a venue that outright refused, but the chef at Fynn Valley was genuinely excited to create a good vegan menu. We had three courses, and three options for each course, as well as an evening buffet. And our 80 guests all said that it was the best food they'd ever had at a wedding! As well as the incredible 5-tiered cake made by our dear friend (bottom layer was vanilla and raspberry, the next layer was chocolate and orange, the next was lemon and blueberry, then the fruit layer that we have kept, then a vanilla and cinnamon layer at the top.) I also made rose decorated chai cupcakes for all our guests. Of course it wasn't just food; but finding a dress and underwear that contained no silk or pearls was an easy and fun task, and the husband's beautiful animal-free shoes are his favourites to wear on a daily basis now! ~~ Finally, we didn't want flowers to be cut and end up dying just for our day, so we went for artificial flowers. Again, finding ones that contained no silk was tricky, but the great thing is, we can be reminded of our day every single day, because the beautiful flower arrangements still adorn our home and look as great now as they did nearly a year ago!"

Bindu and Rajiv had a vegan wedding in 2010. "Both of us are vegan; we were vegan activists when we met. Ours was the first totally vegan wedding in India, that we're aware of, and we were very excited to show everyone that Indian weddings, rituals, outfits can easily be cruelty-free; for it to be completely fair-trade is still a challenge, unfortunately. We requested that all guests wear vegan clothing to the wedding and reception party, and as far as we know, our guests complied. We also did not want to use non-fair-trade flower arrangements, blood and non-fair-trade diamond jewelry, etc. so we found other alternatives. ~~ We refused the sexist ritual of using Thalis (a necklace worn just by the woman to indicate she's married) and settled on rings instead. We wish we had also opted for a wedding that didn't necessitate a 'high'-caste male poojari to officiate the event because it's an oppressive casteist and sexist practice; we're now aware that weddings don't need to be officiated by them to be legal in India. Both of us dislike the sexism and oppression involved in the practice of married women having to change their lastname (voluntarily or otherwise) so we've retained our original names; our plan is to come up with an amalgation, so we can both change our last names eventually. The buffet was vegan, we had south and north Indian dishes, and of course, vegan cake! ~~ Website: veganaisle.ca - We own a vegan online store in Toronto, Canada that sells vegan, ethically-made [wherever possible] products.

Michelle Olsen and Lee Breinholt were married on July 12th 2014, in Denmark. Michelle tells us "I met Lee for the first time when I was 16 years old (he was 26). I was goth, he wore a suit. Needless to say; I was not impressed at the time. But he was; because we met again 6 years later at a concert, and he remembered me. I didn't remember him, but he looked divinely handsome and I was instantly attracted! As was he, I later found out. Alas, we were both going steady with other people, so nothing happened until 3 years later, when I saw on facebook that he and his girlfriend had split up. I immediately broke up with my boyfriend at the time,  and started dating Lee.  At first it was difficult for many reasons; one being he ate meat, and I was both vegan and an animalrights activist. I showed him Gary Yourofsky's "best speech", and that did the trick. I proposed at a christmas dinner, very drunk too, and he accepted. I did it again 6 months later, not drunk this time, and he accepted again! We married July 12th. 2014, and we have been together for little more than 3 years now. ~ Our wedding was of course vegan, with great buffet and the best cake we, and most of our guests, had ever tasted! Our wedding had a theme: "Fairytale", and every single guest had to look amazing, preferably inspired by a fairytale, and it turned out to be a lot of fun for everyone! Lee and I were dressed as elfes of some sort. I made my own dress and my own headpiece. ~ Being vegan is so rewarding to the both of us, and I am proud to say that I have been vegan for nearly 9 years now. We plan to have kids, whom of course are going to be raised vegan all the way. We are not religious, but we believe in love for all! And that is why we are together and why we are both vegan!"

4 comments:

Brad Klopman said...

We had a vegan elopement!

Over 4,500 people came to see it.

www.BradAndCynthia.com

Sejal said...

Hi there are two 100% vegan weddings in India that are missing from this list. Please consider adding them.

1. Ruchi & Jay - http://ruchiandjaysmusings.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/our-wedding/

2. Preethi and Raghav
http://veganweddingshq.com/south-indian-vegan-wedding/

Dil Siri said...

What a soothing article to read thank you for the site .
i am vegan from Sri Lanka who lives between US AND SRI lANKA ..
i really hope wish pray that we all live this world peace and harmony with other beings causing ho harm to any one <3 x

trish said...

This is so exciting!!! I always thought if I ever got married I'd have a vegan wedding....though it is unlikely happen in this lifetime, I' so happy for all of these couples! Really wonderful!