By Daniela Degrassi

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! What better day to share another beautiful real vegan wedding on the blog!? And coincidently, this happens while I am enjoying a few days in mesmerizing New York, the State where our protagonists, Courtney and Peter, exchanged their love vows! As usual, we hear all about it from the bride herself, including her personal journey through veganism that lead her and her spouse to plan a cruelty free wedding.

Courtney, what made you go vegan?

I grew up in a house where animals were cherished. My parents were both vegetarian and when I was 6 I decided that I loved animals too much to eat them so I declared to my mom that I was becoming a vegetarian, too. It wasn’t until I was starting college that I started to make the connection and realized that to fully help animals I needed to become vegan. My mom, dad, and sister made the transition too so we became a family of vegans!

Fast forward to meeting Pete, who was not vegan or even vegetarian when I met him, but was an animal lover. It was not my goal to change Pete, but after eating out with me and seeing how easy (and delicious!) it was to eat vegan, he made the switch and has now been two years vegan!

In short, we look at our dogs and think, “Why love one but eat the other?”

Courtney and Peter enjoying a few moments with their pride and joy Maisie. They got ready at Courtney grandma’s house so Maisie could be part of the fun and being included in their formal photographs in the backyard at the gazebo Courtney’s grandpa built.

 

Was it an easy decision to plan for a vegan wedding?

Having a vegan wedding was the easiest decision we ever made (other than deciding to marry each other!) We knew we would probably ruffle some feathers with this decision, but we knew it was our day, that we didn’t want any animals to suffer for our celebration of love, and we stood by our decision. We’d make this decision 100 times over!

We were so fortunate to be surrounded by supportive friends and family. My mom and mother-in-law planned a vegan Hawaiian-themed bridal shower (complete with vegan doughnuts by Misfit Doughnuts & Treats) and for my bachelorette party my amazing bridesmaids made all kinds of vegan snacks and food to fuel our fun all night long. My parents and in-laws also planned us a vegan brunch for the morning after the wedding, catered by Room & Bloom Cafe in Buffalo, NY.

Who helped you plan the wedding?

As far as planning for our wedding, we did not have an official wedding planner- but my mom was my partner and sounding board for all decisions! Once we found our caterer, she was amazing and became like our event planner – helping us plan our menu, organize our timeline, and plan out all the little details. To say she was incredible is an understatement (shout out to you Amanda!).

What were the major obstacles in planning your vegan wedding?

To be truthful, our biggest obstacle was probably making sure we found delicious vegan food. We knew that if we wanted to quell worries over our vegan wedding and show people that you can have a compassionate celebration, that our food needed to be delicious so that was a top priority for us. We also wanted to keep our budget in mind and not let wedding costs spiral out of control so I would say making economical and ethical choices were our guiding forces. We also only had an 8 month engagement so there was a time crunch!

We love to hear about the fashion details…

I wore an Allure Couture dress with English net, crystals, and satin bought from a sample sale at Stella’s Bridal Boutique in LeRoy, NY.  My shoes were Jewel by Badgley Mischka (fabric upper and synthetic sole) 

6 of my 9 bridesmaids were from other countries and were coming back to America just for our wedding.  (They were all previously exchange students that lived with my family so they are my adopted sisters!)  To keep it easy for everyone, we picked a color palette and asked everyone to bring a short, sleeveless dress that fit with the color scheme.

What venue did you choose for your wedding?

We were married at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in East Pembroke, NY.  This is where Pete and I attend church. To keep it easy for guests, we wanted to be married and have our reception all in the same spot, so we rented the large church hall behind the church and put up a tent outside as well.

What catering company did you hire?

Food and drinks were provided by Partyman Catering & Rental

Pete and I love to travel so we used that as a theme for our food. Cocktail hour was complete with a Mexican nacho bar. Dinner was served in 3 stations- an Italian station, a Thai station and an American marketplace station (complete with a margarita wall!). After hours snacks were Buffalo-themed (Pete’s hometown) and complete with buffalo seitan wings and French fries. Partyman Catering even made sure that the creamers offered at the coffee station were all vegan as well.

When I requested vegan buffalo wings, Partyman Catering had never made these before. I happened to mention to Amanda, our event coordinator, that our absolute favorite seitan wings were at a restaurant called Rise Above in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, Canada. Soon after this meeting, Amanda went to this restaurant, ordered the wings, and came back to her chefs to help them create the perfect seitan Buffalo wing! Talk about going above and beyond!!!

Our complete dinner menu:

Thai Station: Pad Thai, Massaman Curry, Summer rolls with Peanut Sauce, Vegetable Fried Rice, Thai Lemonade

Italian Station: Greens & Beans Flatbread, Ravioli with Marinara, Eggplant & Lentil Meatballs, Risotto with Herbs & Diced Red Peppers

USA Market Station: Roasted Potatoes with Pesto & Green Beans, Squash & Zucchini Ribbon Salad, Watermelon Wedges, Smashed Potatoes & Gravy, Hibiscus Margaritas

Non-alcoholic Drinks: Ginger Peach Iced Tea, Hibiscus Lemonade, Cucumber Mint Water

Alcoholic drinks were available at the bar as well.

What about your wedding cake and sweet treats?

All of our desserts were made by the fabulous 96 Lives Vegan Bakery & Cafe, in Lancaster, NY. Maxine, the owner, made us the most delicious spread of cupcakes, cake, cut out sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, cake pops, blondies, and brownies.

Did you hand out wedding favors?

Rather than spend money on wedding favors that guests forgot on the table or didn’t care about, we wanted this money to go towards a good cause.  In lieu of favors and in honor of our guests, we made a donation to Mockingbird Farm Animal Sanctuary, located down the road from us in Byron, NY.

On our reception tables, we included cards to let guests know a donation had been made in their name and why we felt this was a worthy cause near and dear to our hearts (and also secretly hoping to further drive home our vegan message!).

We always love to hear what your non vegan guests though about the food… 

When designing our menu, we wanted to offer foods that looked familiar to non-vegans, rather than offer the stereotypical vegan kale salads and foods of the sort (even though we find them delicious!). We knew this would be many guest’s first real vegan meal and familiar food would help make them feel comfortable. Although I’m sure people were skeptical, we heard countless times that night and for months after our wedding how delicious the food was! Our photographer even told us that it was the first time she actually took pictures of food at a wedding, rather than just taking pictures of people, because it was so plentiful and beautiful.  When it came time for our late night buffalo wings, the staff could not bring them out fast enough and everyone complimented them and asked what exactly they were eating- how could it be vegan and taste that good?! (It should be noted that impressing a crowd of Buffalonians- who are used to real Buffalo wings- with vegan setain wings is no small feat!).

One of my favorite wedding memories is ending the night in bed with Pete eating the leftover seitan wings together 🙂

Was your wedding all you wanted it to be?

Pete and I would not change a single thing about our wedding. We were confident that having a vegan wedding, without any animals on our menu, was exactly how we wanted our day to go. How could we have such a fun celebration of our love tainted by someone’s desire to have an animal on their plate? We knew that was not an option since we wanted our wedding to be a true representation of our beliefs and values.  We looked at so many venues and potential caterers until we were able to find vendors that truly understood our vision and brought it to life. We completely owe our beautiful, delicious wedding to our amazing catering company and baker, as well as our supportive families!

The beautiful images of Courtney and Peter are courtesy of photographer Jacqueline Connor – Courtney and Peter also would love to give a shout out to their videographer Tim Mieney of Productions by Tim (you can view their wedding video here) and their band: Twilight Entertainment (Rochester, NY) 

 

Wishing Courtney and Peter a very special Valentine’s Day! We always like to remind our readers that submitting your own vegan wedding is very easy here at The Kind Bride so please reach out to us!

 

 

 

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.