By Daniela Degrassi
South Africa has already captured our hearts not long ago, with its magical landscapes and its vegan-friendly option making it a dreamy honeymoon destination; and I still have goosebumps recalling Riante and Bjorn wedding in Witzenberg Valley. Happy to be back again to share Amber and Michael vegan wedding and unveiling another South African fairytale worth wedding venue through the fine photographs of Courtney Gretchen Photography.
Amber, how did you and Michael meet?
Michael and I were in the same school and became friends in high school. I always felt so drawn to the kind and warm person he was, and it didn’t take long before I knew he was the person I wanted to spend my life with. He must have liked me too, because, well he proposed after 10 years of knowing each other.
What made you become vegan?
Our journey towards Veganism started with wanting to live a simpler life, with less stuff, and more meaning. This led us to explore eating a plant-based diet for health reasons, for sustainability, and eventually for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
Was it an easy decision to plan a vegan wedding?
We decided to keep our wedding simple and to focus on what was most important to us, which included good food, time and socialize and keeping our budget realistic. Having a vegan wedding was an amazing way for me to share something that brings me so much joy with the people I love the most. That was why we decided to have a vegan wedding.
Were you families and friends supportive?
Our families and friends were incredibly supportive of us and our simple vegan wedding. It was important to me that the word ‘vegan’ didn’t become the focal point. The way I see it and wanted our guests to see it was simply as ‘delicious food’, not a plate without meat. That has always been my philosophy towards vegan food, it is about what you ARE eating and not about what you choose NOT to eat. We had no major obstacles planning our wedding, we were extremely lucky.
What did you and Michael wear?
I wore the most incredible Bo and Luca gown which they call the Hudson. Bo and Luca were the only dress brand I visited and as soon as I put the Hudson gown on I was finished. It fit like a glove and was so comfortable. I remember walking into the showroom with one specification in mind for my gown. “I would like to be able to sit barefoot on the grass and cross my legs.” The Hudson gown allowed for that movement, especially when on the dance floor! The Hudson gown is made from the most beautiful satin that was silky soft (but not silk). For my shoes, I decided to wear a pair of heels I’ve owned for over a year, a nude pair which I knew would be comfortable on the day. I also brought along a pair of gold sandals which were almost brand new as my dance floor go to.
Michael wore a suit from Woolworths, a beautiful dark blue with a checkered pattern.
What about Hair and Makeup?
For hair and makeup, I used my own, which I purchase from cruelty-free stores. I had one of my oldest friends and bridesmaid on the day do my hair and makeup which was the best decision I could have made. It made me feel so much more comfortable having her there with me instead of a makeup artist and meant I could ask for certain things without feeling shy to be direct.
What did your wedding party wear?
My instruction to my 9 beautiful bridesmaids was to wear whatever it is that would make them feel the most beautiful. They knew it would be a warm February day and that a flowy long dress would be the most comfortable. They all wore such different, yet similar styles which when put next to one another looked like the most beautiful compilation I could have ever dreamed of. Giving them the freedom to wear whatever made them happy was a special way for me to share the unique and wonderful friends in my life through their different styles with my guests and family.
The groomsmen were asked to wear dark blue chinos and a white button-up.
Where did we get married?
We got married in Natte Valleij – We chose the most beautiful private residence which is rented out for weddings. The venue includes an overgrown fairytale garden with the perfect spaces for an outdoor reception in front of the manor house, an area for post-reception welcoming drinks and snacks, and my favorite section which is a stunning spot for that dream long table next to the risen dance floor which is also used for speeches. We decided not to use the indoor area to keep with our garden-themed wedding, although that is also an option. Natte Valleij also offers 14 sleeper accommodation on site!
Who provided food and drinks?
Our wedding food was the most exciting part of our wedding day (for me at least). I wanted to create a plant-based feast for our guests to enjoy and employed the help of my talented friend, Jüte Scott, a student at Silwood Kitchen to help me plan our menu and execute it for our 65 guests. Jüte and her catering partner, Meredith, let me be as involved as I wanted. We developed a buffet-style menu that we believed all of the guests would enjoy, with the hope that no one would even notice the lack of meat or dairy. I was so happy with the food, and the guests were extremely complimentary of the chefs. I still drool thinking of my stacked up plate of goodness.
Rentals by The Souk
Who catered your Cake and Desserts?
Our wedding cake was one thing I had sorted from the day we got engaged! I knew that I wanted to use Thank Goodness Foods for our cake and they made a beautiful one-tiered banana and chocolate vegan cake, topped with berries and flowers. It was delicious. For our wedding day desserts, we asked Rumsy’s Noose to make an assortment of vegan doughnuts for us. Oh my goodness, we are huge fans of theirs and cannot get enough, neither could our guests!
How did your guests react to your vegan menu?
Our guests were extremely complimentary of our chefs, and that made me happy. Our menu was heart plant-based foods that were meant to be delicious and hearty. Everyone seemed to be quite shocked that vegan food could be so tasty and filling!
Was your wedding all you wanted it to be?
Our wedding was 100% all I could have ever dreamed of. I didn’t necessarily even see it as a vegan wedding, it was simply a wedding which embodied our lifestyle, eating plant-based and living kindly. It was special to share our way of life with our loved ones and for them to get a better understanding of what it means to live a vegan life, simply.
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.