By Daniela Degrassi
Today we finally take you to Australia for our first real vegan wedding feature from the Land Down Under. The wait was worth, because Belinda and Jye’s wedding is set in the stunning woods of Black Hill, two hours away from Sydney’s skyscrapers, and it is as romantic as you can expect from a wedding surrounded by nature. The tranquil venue offers a vast structured garden marquee, natural bush surrounds and a rural feel which was the perfect space for their intimate DIY celebrations. As usual, we wanted to know as many details as possible from the bride! Enjoy their story and beautiful photographs captured by Lauren Anne Photography.
Belinda, how did you and Jye meet?
Myspace of all places. We had mutual friends, I was following Jye’s bands page and he added me to his personal page. After a few months of chatting, a few dates and countless impressive home cooked meals (Jye knows how to cook) we decided to give it a real go. That was 12 years ago!
What made you become vegan?
A combination of factors about 2 years ago made up go vegan. I had an awareness of the environmental concerns regarding agriculture in the back of my mind and we were also calling ourselves animal lovers but still eating them, it didn’t make sense so we went vegetarian. Soon after Jye was diagnosed with an inflammatory thyroid condition and with some research we found going full vegan was the best option for our health and to calm down his thyroid.
How did you decide to plan for a vegan wedding?
There was no doubt about having a vegan wedding. We knew it wouldn’t sit well with everyone but nothing seemed right about serving animal products on our big day. We wanted to day to reflect us, what we believe in and the things we value. This also meant keeping things simple and laid back and eco-friendly.
Were your family/friends supportive?
They were supportive, but maybe hesitant at first with a few “I’ll bring some jerky” comments from relatives but they understood that this is our lifestyle and we wouldn’t have the day any other way. On the day everyone respected our choice and it felt so good knowing that all the important people to us were eating vegan for that afternoon.
It was an entire DIY affair, just because the venue we chose was a simple blank canvas. My sister, friends and celebrant helped a lot with on the day set-up. We wanted to keep the focus on the nature and the beautiful setting without too many distractions. This meant we could put our touch on everything. We rented some furniture from The Wedding Designers and had a mix of vases and ornaments borrowed from our families. Jye’s Nan had recently passed so we had a table cloth she had gifted me and a big gold vase from my Nan which felt like a part of them were with us.
What were the major obstacles in planning your wedding?
I didn’t think planning a wedding in three months would be difficult. I enjoyed the pressure and not having to wait for months to see the images in my mind become reality. Although I booked the photographer for the wrong date, she was the first vendor I booked, and I didn’t release until we met her for coffee and she commented that Tuesday was different for a wedding. I was shocked and went back to the email to find I had written the wrong month! She was lovely and called another friend of hers who thankfully had our day free just three months out. We were very lucky.
The guest list is also an ongoing obstacle, culling people and choosing who to invite when having a small wedding is really difficult. I lost a lot of sleep stressing about this.
Budget is always a challenge, and we slightly blew it but that was expected.
What did you wear?
I had been following Grace Loves Lace on Instagram for years and was in love with one of their designs, but it had silk in it and when I tried it on anyway and it didn’t feel right. I was set on the dress being Australian made, second hand and vegan. I also had a preference for backless and sleeves. I spent months searching on Still White and Marketplace then I fractured some fingers which with a big fat cast made it hard to try dresses on – mentally and physically. With six weeks to go, a GLL design which was vegan came up for sale not far from where my parents live. I drove there, tried in on then 2 days later decided that’s the one and had my dad pick her up for me. It was the Mai design, one I had initially overlooked initially but adored when I tried her on. No alterations necessary.
Shoes were from Huntd, a Sydney-based vegan shoe company. They released the new Comfort heels just in time, they were actually my “something new” and the first wedding item I bought.
Jye’s outfit was also a surprise, why should girls have all the fun in hiding their dress until the big day? I knew he was keeping with the natural theme but he kept his suit under wraps which was an extra surprise for me. My sister only found a bridesmaid dress the day before (I said wear whatever you want, pick something comfortable that makes you feel amazing) and the groomsman pulled his outfit together that same weekend. I love this random mix and not overly coordinated feel.
Where did you get married?
We were married at The Registry at Black Hill, just 20 minutes from Newcastle and 2 hours from Sydney, Australia. The ceremony was under the gum trees and you could hear the birds chirping. We love nature and the outdoors so it felt like the perfect simple location for us and very close to where we both grew up. There was a big marquee with some seating, cake table, band and dance floor plus scattered outdoor seating. It had rained for days beforehand and I barely slept the night before, but luckily it cleared up just in time and we lit the bonfire to keep us warm after the sun set.
Who was your food caterer?
Catering was a mini obstacle as our initial caterer had double booked and didn’t feel comfortable juggling our event. After I received the email we headed to our local vegan markets in Sydney where we usually end up eating burgers. Thinking our wedding should reflect us, why not serve our favorite burgers. We got in touch with the guys from EZVE and they were more than happy to make the trip. They served “Chix” and “Beef” burgers with fries and cauliflower bites and the laid back market feel fit the vibe perfectly.
As a starter we asked Sharp and Co to do a vegan grazing table, it looked amazing! I didn’t get to try any as it was eaten so quickly. This included a range of veggies, dips, crackers and local vegan cheese from The Vegan Cheese Company.
Our cake was by Annabelle at My Little Panda Kitchen. We had the Coconut and Pandan in gluten free and a Black forest. Two cakes are always better than one! Because serving dishes were all used up with the grazing plater we had to improvise serving dishes. No one seemed to mind eating the cake with their hands of off serviettes which was loads of fun! There was only a tiny slice left at the end of the night which we had for breakfast the next day.
Drinks were served by The Roaming Eagle, a gorgeous vintage Jetstream van. Signature cocktails we requested were Pimms, Dark and Stormy and Prosecco Spritz. They also had plenty of vegan wines, beer, soft drink, tea and coffee. Their styling was on point and were definitely a striking feature.
Were your guests pleased/surprised by the food quality?
I think we fooled a few people with the burgers! A few people have commented on how good they were and raised their awareness of vegan alternatives. I think guests were surprised about how casual and laid back the afternoon was. The grazing plate was definitely well received and I’ve recommended Sharp and Co to quite a few people now. The cake was demolished and goes to show you can’t taste the difference between a good vegan and non-vegan cake.
Was your wedding all you wanted it to be?
Our wedding was beyond what I had imagined. Having everyone we love and care about in the same place was unreal. Everyone warned me how quick it goes, and they sure weren’t lying. Even though little things didn’t go to plan it didn’t matter in the moment. We had so much fun and were on such a wedding high for days afterwards. It was fantastic to have a little unconventional party to celebrate us, our love and the lifestyle we value surrounded by the beautiful Australian bush.
Special mention to our band Echo – Jye and I both searched separately and found them online. Jordie and Pat are vegan which made us super happy to have them on board and they’re such a talented duo, playing all the best songs to get everyone up and dancing.
An incurable enthusiast and independent spirit since she could remember (her childhood heroines were Pippi Longstockings and Katharine Hepburn) Daniela Degrassi found her creative outlet as a lifestyle photographer, working mainly in Northern California. Currently splitting her time between SF Bay Area and her native Italy to continue to be her autistic sister’s primary caregiver. Vegan since 2014, she found a perfect way to carry her message of compassion while celebrating her love for the wedding industry launching The Kind Bride in February 2018.