By Daniela Degrassi

 

“Our wedding had a bit of a mixed theme, our decorations were mainly Japan inspired with decorations from video games and Studio Ghibli around the venue, and I used sakura blossom as a color theme for a few things. In the evening guests were encouraged to change in to Hawaiian shirts and relaxed clothing and to our surprise Paul’s brother in law had brought Hawaiian Flower Garlands for everyone to wear, which was a really special touch! We wanted a really relaxed, fun vibe and it certainly was a lot of fun!”
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You would think that with such exotic details this real life vegan wedding took place in a remote Pacific Island… and you’ll be so far away from the truth! Hazel and Paul, our bride and groom of today’s feature, have staged this ambience non other than for their UK celebrations.
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“It was really important to us to have a vegan wedding, and alongside that we also wanted to reduce the negative impact our wedding had on the environment. We kept the guest list reasonably small, and had the wedding in a city so people traveling could use public transport or car share, the decorations were either borrowed, second hand or things we already own, and a lot of the flowers and confetti were provided by my Auntie from her garden. We used recycled paper for things like napkins and thank you cards, and really tried to think about our environmental impact.”
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Hazel reached out to me explaining she used The Kind Bride as an inspiration to plan her wedding, so I am particularly proud to share her story featuring images by Katie Jade Photography and also starring Hazel and Paul’s furry baby Kirby.
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Before diving into more wedding details lets rewind and ask Hazel when Cupid’s arrow struck!
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Paul and I met almost 13 years ago now! We’ve been best friends since we first met in our teenage years, and have always wanted to spend all of our time together. I feel really lucky to have such a kind, funny and supportive person in my life, who I can now call my husband!
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What made you become vegan?
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My mum raised me vegetarian, so for my whole life I have been aware of the animal cruelty involved in meat production, so when I realized the same cruelty was involved in milk and eggs I couldn’t participate anymore. I have always loved animals, my mum raised me to be caring and thoughtful of those around me, and that has always included animals.
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How did you decide to plan for a vegan wedding?
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We knew from the start there was no way we would pay for animal exploitation on our wedding day, and we are lucky that Norwich is such a vegan friendly city, so it was just a case of finding people to help make it a reality!
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Were your family/friends supportive? 
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Not all of our family members see things the way that we do, but they do support us. Our Mum’s came to food tastings and helped us make sure there would be a variety of food for everyone. In the lead up we had a couple of jokes about vegan food from guests, but overall none of our friends or relatives were negative about it. We didn’t announce it was a vegan wedding or make a big deal about it – at the end of the day, food is food!
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What were the major obstacles in planning your wedding?
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I wouldn’t say we faced any major obstacles. It was a challenge to keep within a reasonably tight (for a wedding anyway!) budget. We really wanted the day to reflect us, and to just be a lot of fun. We were really lucky that all of our vendors did their absolute best to make it perfect, and we made some great friends along the way! Our families also helped a huge amount with planning and the set up the day before, we couldn’t have done it without them.
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What did you wear?
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I originally planned to get a second hand dress, or a dress from the high street, but for fun one afternoon my mum and I went dress shopping in Wed2B and I absolutely fell in love with their Asteria dress. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so a few weeks later we went back and picked it up. The bonus of a budget friendly dress is that no silk or real pearls were used! I had already bought the shoes a few years earlier, and so more than a year before the wedding I had my outfit sorted! The shoes were my dream wedding shoes from Irregular Choice which I managed to pick up at an absolute bargain price, thankfully their website lists if anything is made of leather or suede. My accessories were a veil and belt both from Wed2B.
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Did you have a vegan hairstylist/make up artist?
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I decided to do my own make-up. I wanted to make sure only cruelty free & vegan products were used, so I spent lots of time in the run up practicing my make up, and I am so pleased with how it looked on the day. I even managed to keep it pretty sweat proof in the 30°C weather!
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I did not feel at all confident doing my own hair, so I contacted Norwich School of Beauty, and they put a bulletin up with my details for any students who would like some experience of styling a wedding. I was contacted by a few people but Sue Barber from Twist and Twine Hair Design really stood out. She had recently completed a hair creativity course, and came up with beautiful designs for myself, the bridesmaids and our Mum’s. She really went above and beyond to make it all perfect.
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What did your bridesmaids wear?

.I wanted the bridesmaids to be happy and comfortable in their dresses, and to hopefully have a dress they can wear again and again! I love to wear 1950’s style dresses so we visited our local shop Pocketwatch and Petticoats and the bridesmaids picked which ever dress they liked so they all had a unique 1950’s style dress!

What did Paul and his groomsmen wear?
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It was a little bit tough trying to find a suit for Paul which was a fun and interesting color and also didn’t contain wool! We finally managed to get a 3 piece suit from Burton’s, in a raspberry color which was perfect. The ties and pocket squares which the men wore were hand made by myself and my mum.
The groomsmen wore their own suits and they had the matching ties and pocket squares we made, and Kirby our dog had a matching bandanna!
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Where did you get married? 
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We knew from the start that we wanted our Ceremony in Norwich Castle. The park on the top of Castle Mall where Paul first asked me to be his girlfriend (12 years ago now!) is right across from the Castle. It is a really sweet and fun place to get married. We absolutely love to say that we got married in a Castle, especially one so special to us.
Antheros Arts Foundation is where we had our reception. It is a beautiful, historical building and felt really unique. Antheros is also a charity, so knowing that our fee was going towards helping artists and young people in the city was great.
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Who provided the food and drinks?
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Antheros provided our drinks, and so we simply asked for a vegan bar, and it was not a problem.
In the afternoon we had a Japanese style buffet, with delicious noodle salads, sushi rolls, tempura veggies and so much more! In the evening we had a buffet of pizza, burgers and chips. Guests couldn’t believe the delicious cheesy pizzas were vegan! The food was provided by North Café in Norwich, who created our incredible vegan Japanese menu, which went down incredibly well with our guests.
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Who made your wedding cake/desserts?
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We had a Sakura blossom themed 2-tier double chocolate cake accompanied by 84 cupcakes in seven delicious flavors, provided by The Iced Vegan. The cakes were incredible, and even since the wedding guests have been saying they were the best cakes they have EVER had!
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What did you use as wedding favors? 
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We wanted a favor which wasn’t wasteful and also supported charities which are important to us. What could be better than personalized packets of wild flowers which give a percentage to charity. Paul chose Friends of the Earth flowers for bees and I chose Bat Conservation Trust flowers for bats. Hopefully our guests will get planting, and any leftover packets will be planted in our garden!
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Were your guests pleased/surprised by the food quality?
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It seems as thought our guests were really pleased with the food. It was a hot day and so having a buffet with sushi and salads went down really well. We have had so many compliments on the amazing cakes, even since the wedding we have had so many compliments on the food!
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Was your wedding all you wanted it to be?
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Our wedding day was absolutely the best day of our lives. We put a huge amount of work in to it and it came together perfectly. Spending the day with out closest family and friends, full of so much emotion and love was a dream come true, and the day unapologetically reflected who we are and what we believe in.
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Hazel shares more details of her wedding in her blog Karuna Conservation where she writes about her passions for conservation, environmentalism, veganism and discusses intersectionality between these causes as well as feminism, mental health and a whole variety of other issues which are important to her.
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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.