By Daniela Degrassi
So pleased to share our first Jewish AND Vegan real wedding on the blog! I recently connected with Robyn, a Toronto based vegan fashionista, writer/editor, and operator of In Your Vegan Style. While I look forward to welcome Robyn to our awesome team of writers for The Kind Bride very soon, we can for now enjoy reading how she planned her own vegan wedding, and how she managed to make it Kosher too! Let’s get to know Robyn and her groom Evan.
Robyn, how did you meet your groom?
Evan and I met in class our last semester of high school. Then, two years after becoming friends, he told me he’d actually like me the whole time and asked me out. We dated a little while, but things didn’t work out between us for practically a decade.
What made you become vegan?
I stopped eating meat when I was 14 because I felt badly eating animals. I gradually went fully vegetarian, and finally vegan almost seven years ago. Over time, I’ve become more and more passionate about animal rights and advocacy. Evan isn’t vegan, which can be challenging, but I had already fallen in love with him years before I made the switch.
How did you decide to plan for a vegan wedding?
Fortunately, Evan figured I would want to have a vegan wedding before we even got engaged, and helped me deal with some of the adversity we faced. Despite not being vegan himself, he knows how important it is to me and understood I didn’t want to serve meat and animal by-products to our guests. He’s also had a lot of good vegan food since we’ve been together. When it came to planning, I also made sure our tablecloths and napkins were silk-free and there were no bone china dishes.
Environmental impact is important to me, too, so we used recycled paper for our Minted invitations, a wedding website from The Knot instead of reply cards, and no straws at the reception.
Were your family and friends supportive? If so, how? Did they help?
We had some doubters and some people who made jokes about it, but I tried not to let it bother me. Some people were great. Some seemed genuinely curious and interested to see what the food would be like. Ultimately, I knew we couldn’t please everyone regardless of what we served.
Did you have a wedding planner help out?
I love wedding styling so much and did a lot of it on my own, but I was fortunate to have help from my planner, Judy Stein, who is also a friend of my mom’s. She was especially helpful to deal with some of the vendors, organize and manage everything on the actual day with an assistant, and even to confide in leading up to the wedding.
What were the major obstacles in planning your wedding?
I had a lot of conflicting ideas, so making final decisions was hard, and then letting go at the end and leaving it in other people’s hands. Between Instagram and Pinterest, I think we build up expectations so much nowadays and they aren’t always realistic especially when trying to keep costs down. I would have adjusted some things if I could, but we had a beautiful wedding!
What did you wear?
I wore a Wtoo by Watters lace and tulle ball gown from Felichia Bridal in Toronto. The seamstress added some extra lace to the skirt and bodice for me, plus we removed the satin belt that came on it—it was nice to make it unique! Since I had to cover my shoulders for the ceremony, I found a “topper” from the boutique chain, Honey. For jewelry, I wore a couple pieces from my grandmother, which was especially meaningful because she wasn’t well enough to attend our wedding. I bought vegan-friendly satin Betsey Johnson block heels that I wore most of the day, and pretty vegan Toms for the reception that laced around the ankles. Evan handled his own look, but we ordered his velvet bowtie from Mrs. Bowtie and faux silk pocket square from Simons.
Did you have a vegan hairstylist and make-up artist?
Grace at the Kind Hair Shop (a vegan salon in Toronto) is my regular hairdresser. She doesn’t usually do weddings, but agreed to be part of our special day. My sister knew Candice from Blow Dry by Candy, who does both hair and makeup and uses some vegan-friendly products, so she did the latter. Both women took great care of my bridesmaids, our moms, and me!
What did your bridesmaids wear?
I love the mismatched look, so I wanted my three bridesmaids—sister, sister-in-law, and best friend—to wear different dresses and colors. For continuity, I sent them a few inspiration photos. It was more challenging than I expected, but I was happy with the result. One of them ordered from Morilee, one from an online company, and one bought hers at Saks. Then I bought them faux pashminas from Simons for the ceremony. Our flower girl wore a Macy’s dress with adorable glittery shoes from Joe Fresh.
What did his groomsmen wear?
We asked our groomsmen to wear any black suit or tux, rather than make them rent those heavy ones from a specific place. I wanted them to be a little mismatched, too. Evan doesn’t like boutonnieres, so we got linen pocket squares from Hudson’s Bay. I also chose wool-free Calvin Klein suits and silk-free Tommy Hilfiger bowties from there for our “mini groomsmen”.
Where did you get married?
It’s an unspoken tradition in my family to get married in a synagogue. My mom wanted us to do that, and I know my late grandfather (who Evan and I were close with) would have been happy about it. The temple is really nice, and then we had a blank canvas party room to work with. I wanted a “rustic elegant” vibe, so we had mixed florals and greenery, vintage- style vases, candles, a twinkle light wall, and neutral linens. It was misty outside that day, so we took bride-and-groom photos at this cool library, Civic Centre Resource, just north of the city.
Who provided the food and drinks?
Since we got married at a synagogue, we had the added challenge of the food needing to be kosher. We chose Ace Kosher, who arranged a great food tasting for us and told us they were really excited about creating their first completely vegan wedding! The menu included:
A grazing station with mixed crudité, pita bread and chips, with hummus, charred eggplant and roasted red pepper dips.
Appetizers: Chickpea falafel, veg mac sliders, zucchini potato latkes, Bangkok slaw, grilled flatbread pizza, fresh rolls, and Thai chili squash soup shooters.
3-course meal: Middle Eastern chopped salad, sweet potato gnocchi, and fried eggplant.
Late night station: Double blanched fries with smoked ketchup, garlic sauce and chives, sweet potato fries with harissa spice, tofu chili sauce and chives.
The alcohol also had to be kosher, so we went to this place called Simcha. They provided a list of options and I used Barnivore and Google to ensure everything was vegan-friendly. If it wasn’t, or I couldn’t confirm it was, we chose something else.
Who made your wedding cake/desserts?
For our wedding cake and our nephew’s 4 th birthday cake (which we surprised him with the same night), we used Sweets from the Earth. They don’t make tiered cakes, but I liked the look of a smaller one with other desserts below on a tiered plate anyway. Then our florist, Wildflowers & Co., added flowers on top for us. Ace Kosher did fresh fruit, cake squares, blondies, and blueberry crumb bars for the sweet table. They also enlisted an amazing pastry chef because I really wanted donuts!
What did you use as wedding favors?
For Jewish weddings, we often have yarmulkes with the couple’s name and wedding date inscribed inside. Usually, the men wear them during the ceremony and then all guests can keep them after. We chose black polyester satin with turquoise cotton on the inside.
Were your guests pleased/surprised by the food quality?
We heard a lot of positive reviews from our guests that night and in the week or two following—especially about the appetizers and desserts! The dinner portions were a little small and there was supposed to be more sauce on the eggplant, but the quality was excellent. I think most people were pleasantly surprised.
Was your wedding all you wanted it to be? Please share what it meant to have a vegan wedding.
The biggest takeaway from our wedding was the warmth and intimacy—it felt like all 200 people were part of the fun. Our speeches (especially my husband’s and father-in-law’s) were big hits, and my brother-in-law and I separately surprised everyone with songs! As for making it vegan, I included a short line in my own speech about animal rights. I wanted to explain the significance. It meant a lot to me to ensure no animals were harmed in as many details that I had the right to choose. I couldn’t have imagined serving meat and animal by-products when it’s supposed to be one of the happiest days of our lives!
A special shout out to Robyn’s photographer Little Blue Lemon, and to videographer Shoy Pictures, band The Digs and Sole Power Productions for music/lighting.
A feminist 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 where she lived for 15 years before moving back to 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.