By Ashley Frohnert
This time last year, my husband Tony and I were on our honeymoon in Italy, coming off of our “I Dos”. Like we did, and as you all plan to, more and more couples are choosing to have vegan weddings to ensure that their big day is a love-filled occasion that does not cause suffering. After all, a wedding is not only a celebration of a couple’s love; it’s also a reflection of their ideals and what makes them unique. Even before we were married, one value that my husband Tony and I shared is treating all animals with compassion. When it came to planning our wedding, we knew that we didn’t want anyone to be harmed for our special day, so we opted for a vegan wedding.
Planning an all-vegan wedding is a truly rewarding and satisfying experience. You get to zero in on exactly what you want and choose from a like-minded, progressive pool of compassionate vendors and companies whose ethics are aligned with you and your spouses’, which adds even more meaning to your special day. From fabrics to food to favors, there is an abundance of vegan options at brides and grooms’ disposal to enjoy elegant, animal- and eco-friendly nuptials.
My husband and I had no problem creating the 100 percent vegan wedding of our dreams. In fact, we had two vegan weddings: One in our native Pittsburgh, and one in Los Angeles where we live. This gave us the unique opportunity to support vegan friendly vendors and promote vegan living to two different groups of loved ones in two major cities, which was extremely fulfilling.
When it comes to food and drinks, choose experienced caterers and beverage purveyors, and do not settle for boring plates of marinated vegetables. If you can’t find a caterer in your area who has pre-set vegan options, make sure you find someone who is willing—and excited—to work with you to create them. And don’t be shy about providing any potential caterer with suggestions, or even recipes, for the types of food you’d like to serve. You might end up influencing a caterer to add vegan options to their regular menu or even go vegan themselves!
For our California reception, which took place not too far away at The Mountain Mermaid in Topanga Canyon, we selected vegan (and woman-owned!) caterer Todo Verde, whose fresh Mexican and South American flavors stole our hearts and taste buds. Our guests feasted on jackfruit tacos with cashew crema, oyster mushrooms en mole, semilla salad with fresh strawberries, guacamole and chips, and coctél de oyster mushrooms. For dessert, we chose to work with local baker Kristen of Baby Love Sweetery, who made a gorgeous assortment of vegan cupcakes so guests could try even more vegan-baked goods, plus our stunning vegan pink velvet cake adorned with icing succulents.
We held our Pittsburgh reception at the historic Braddock Carnegie Library where our guests enjoyed an all-vegan spread of mac ‘n’ cheese, tacos, and fresh vegetables catered by Ladyfingers Catering. Choosing vegan versions of traditional foods that everyone would enjoy helps guests discover that the vegan versions are just as good (if not better) as the ones made from animal-derived ingredients. We had another succulent-themed vegan cake, this time by Butterwood Bake Consortium, which featured vegan crème de violette. We also brought in beer from local breweries Iron City Brewing Company and Yuengling because they make exclusively vegan beer instead of filtering it with isinglass, which is a substance derived from fish bladders that is used to refine some beers.
Let’s talk about those fish bladders for a moment. Many people may not realize that some adult beverages are not vegan friendly, which gives couples planning a vegan wedding another opportunity to raise awareness. For example, wine is sometimes filtered through isinglass, as well as beer. Barnivore.com is a great resource that provides information about vegan breweries and wineries, as is The Vegan Vine, but you can always ask your distributor or bartender for more information about the refining process of your favorite brands to confirm that they are vegan. We used Santa Margherita champagne, Frey white organic wines, and Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon at our receptions, which we discovered through those great resources.
You can let guests know in advance that the food will be vegan, or simply place “vegan” labels by the food on the reception tables. On our wedding website, we made it clear that we were having a vegan wedding and explained why – noting that 10 billion animals are killed for food each year and subjected to cruelty that you’d never wish upon your cat or dog – so that no one would be surprised when they arrived. If you’re worried that some guests may object to an all- vegan menu, you can send a polite e-mail before the event explaining that for you, being vegan is not just about what you eat, but about not contributing to animal suffering. Most people will understand and respect your choice.
Coming from an area where a vegan lifestyle is still pretty “new” and “different,” our parents both objected to us having all-vegan weddings at first, for fear that some guests would be upset. We made it clear, even before we were engaged and then a few times after, that this was our day and it was not only a great time for us to introduce vegan food to many new people, but as anti-speciesists that it was also hugely important to us to not have anything originating from animal abuse or exploitation on our big day.
I chose to wear a dress from Anthropologie’s bridal line, BHLDN, for both of my receptions. I definitely recommend this line for bridal or bridal-party dresses (ED: often featured on The Kind Bride!). Not only do they have dozens of affordable and beautiful dresses for under 1,000 dollars, most of them are made without silk, which is the fiber that so-called “silkworms” weave to make their cocoons. There are also several other companies that offer vegan dresses. I tried on sustainably and locally-made dresses at Kite & Butterfly, as well as priced out other LA bridal stores, but ultimately I chose BHLDN because it was budget-and-vegan friendly! I paired my dress with lavender sustainably made vegan leather sandals from woman-owned, LA-based SUSI Studio.
And a vegan bride will surely feel her most beautiful when she creates her look using cruelty-free makeup and hair-styling products. PETA has an extensive online database of vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics, personal care products, and more for you to glam up with on your wedding day, just Google “PETA Cruelty-Free Database” to see the over 4200 companies on our
I already had a stylist in Hollywood who drove out to Topanga, Jenn of Naked Eye Beauty (who I recommend for hair cutting dying as well as makeup!), but I searched vegan Facebook groups for recommendations near our venue in Pittsburgh and found a great artist who came to my hotel room to do my hair and makeup.
Plus, most salons will let you to bring your own vegan, cruelty-free products and brushes if they aren’t equipped with them already. Just remember, if you’re getting false eyelashes or extensions, be sure that your stylist isn’t using mink or silk. Personally, I felt beautiful inside and out knowing that my wedding look was totally animal-friendly, from head to toe.
For once in life, menswear can be more difficult, as suits are often made with wool. We looked at wool-free suits and silk-free shirts at Topman, Target, and H&M, which all have several vegan options, and landed on a great one from ASOS. If you want to splurge, celebrity favorite Brave GentleMan by Joshua Katcher is an all-vegan, sustainable brand with wool-free and even custom suits. For Tony’s shoes and accessories, we stopped at MooShoes and decided on a “future leather” belt by Brave GentleMan and vegan leather oxford shoes by Novacas. Companies such as ASOS and even Target also offer several synthetic, animal-friendly dress shoes – just look for words like “man-made,” “polyurethane,” or “synthetic leather.”
Believe it or not, there are more ways you can veganize your nuptials, such as with fresh flowers. The most notable thing to look out for in this department is silk. Let your florist know that you’d like your flowers to be wrapped in satin, burlap or a natural twine because you don’t use silk. And make sure to request soy candles instead of beeswax, and silk-free tablecloths at the venue.
If you’re having a bridal shower, politely ask the host to honor your veganism and attendees to only bring vegan gifts. My family and friends showered me at a stunning vintage vegan brunch café and even donated a portion of their gifts to the local shelter where we adopted our dogs. Another fun idea is to plan a trip to an animal sanctuary in lieu of a shower or bachelor or bachelorette party.
You can also incorporate the animal companions in your life into your wedding. Our two rescued dogs are a massively important part of our life and family, so for our California ceremony they were our “best men”.
Another great way to help friends and family see how easy vegan living can be is through the gifts on your registry. I selected stunning down-alternative pillows, wool-free rugs, and animal-friendly bedding, and requested donations to some of our favorite animal sanctuaries and charities, including PETA.
For our honeymoon fund, we chose delicious vegan dinners and wine tours, and only activities that do not exploit wild animals – instead of zoos, elephant rides, or “swim with dolphins” programs.
And instead of giving traditional wedding favors, why not present your guests with a gift that will help save animals? For example, PETA offers wedding favor cards that you can place by the table settings at your reception to let guests know that a donation has been made in their honor. However, be sure to send guests home with a little treat for themselves too, such as a gourmet vegan chocolate bar or a bag of heart-shaped seed paper confetti, which they can plant at home to grow wildflowers, we gave small succulents with the phrase “Let Love Grow”.
At both of our receptions, we had a traditional Pittsburgh cookie table – veganized! The cookie table originated during a time when folks spent a little less on weddings and asked their guests to bake cookies in lieu of cakes. Now you can’t go to a Pittsburgh wedding without seeing them. Of course we asked guests to make their cookies without eggs, butter, or milk, and ended up with dozens of varieties for guests to take home as favors. Several of our friends and family members commented that they had fun baking the vegan cookies and enjoyed the taste too!
Planning a wedding and honeymoon can be challenging at times, but know that sticking to your vegan beliefs is a cinch. It was really important to my husband and me that our big day reflected our values, and we were excited to show our guests just how easy it is to celebrate the occasion in an animal-friendly way. Having vegan weddings made us feel even closer to our family and friends. We were blown away by how many of our guests enjoyed the food and felt inspired to go vegan. Marrying my true love was the best feeling in the world, but inspiring our loved ones to protect animals, their health, and the environment was icing on the vegan cake.
California Wedding Photos by Abbie Tyler Photography
Pittsburgh Wedding Photos by Ben Petchel
Ashley Frohnert is the Senior Social Media Manager for PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the largest animal rights group in the world.
Ashley kindly attended The Luxe and Kind Bridal Boutique, the World’s first vegan wedding fair we co-hosted on September 8th, sharing her vegan wedding planning story and tips. We’re so thrilled to be sharing her vegan coast to coast weddings on the blog too!