By Kate Harris
The perfect wedding is one that is a true reflection of the couple being celebrated. Not a cookie-cutter, pulled-off-Pinterest affair, but one in which the bride and groom could disappear and you would still be left knowing just what kind of a couple they are. After having been to so many weddings as photographers, we felt the need for this more strongly. We didn’t, after all, want our own celebration to feel less than authentic.
There were easy initial decisions. No paper plates or single use glasses as we thought about our environmental footprint. Sourcing decorations locally. Having a registry with options to donate carbon credits and to a local environmental organization. And asking our caterer to use local farms, basing the menu on what’s in season. These decisions weren’t going to impact our guests in any discernible way.
Our desire to have a completely vegan wedding, on the other hand, was not going to mesh with some. A few guests and vendors we knew were anti vegetable, and we struggled over this. Just as we struggled with our decision to have a dry wedding.
Having been together three years, we enabled one another to grow as people. It’s something we are proud of and feel very lucky to be in a relationship which inspires change and betterment. The first of those life alterations was the role of alcohol. It nearly broke us apart, and since that day, it hasn’t been a part of our lives. We are reminded of our happiness with this decision every time we are around those who have consumed too much. They are no longer representing their best self. Our wish at our wedding was to enjoy our friends and family in their truest form.
Having parents who believe wine should always be served at dinner, and toasts couldn’t happen without champagne, we felt our boundaries wobble. After all, they were footing the bill for the reception. Making them happy was just as important to us as upholding our values. However, it started with a compromise of wine at the rehearsal dinner instead. And then agreeing that champagne could be used during wedding day speeches. And suddenly wine was on the wedding day dinner menu as well, but just for certain tables.
We knew their changes were born from their excitement over our celebration, and desire to make it as wonderful as possible. But we decided to have the hard talk explaining how their view of a perfect celebration and ours were different, and why. They love us, and regardless of understanding, agreed to our wishes as they could tell it was important to us. Poof! Away went the alcohol! We immediately felt a sense of anxiety lift off our shoulders.
In retrospect, we wish we had held firm with our vegan convictions as strongly. In our defense, 90% of our food was vegan. However, with a caterer who did not seem interested in being creative, and parents who insisted that some of their friends needed animal protein, we compromised with cocktail hour.
Our initial motivation for becoming plant based was for environmental reasons. Ethical considerations followed later. So we allowed locally caught lobster and farm raised organic eggs on the apps menu. Now, looking back at photos we want to hide this. There wasn’t a single guest that was unhappy with the food, or left hungry. Even the carnivores. Our vegan lasagna and roasted veggies were from a farm half a mile away, and made with incredible attention to detail. Flavor was abundant. No one missed meat. In fact, within a year after our wedding, two couples also became plant based, along with three family members. And another family shifted to “plant preferred.” We’d like to think we had something to do with it. But in reality, it’s more likely that people are more open to options.
In the end, we realized that everyone was there for us. Only a few, buried under tradition, had preconceived notions for our wedding. And when it came down to it, we are the ones who will remember the day forever. What did last with our guests is how uniquely “Kate and Keith” our wedding was. And more than anything they appreciated and enjoyed this, feeling a lift from the stale wedding routine.
So, were we to do it all over again, here’s what we’d change. We would say “no” to alcohol from the beginning and explain our reasons why at the outset. We would say “yes” to 100% plant based foods, and have no fears or worry over what guests might think. If they didn’t love us that much, then we probably wouldn’t want them at our wedding! We mentioned both in our invitation, so there were no surprises. Good communication has always been our key to success.
Photographs from Kate and Keith wedding by Jenelle Kappe Photography
Kate & Keith are wedding and event photographers creating a work/life balance around sustainability and the outdoors. Both vegan, they are committed towards zero-waste initiatives and founded a non-profit (Sustainable Seacoast) in their home area to aid restaurants and events in eliminating single use plastics. Their passports show Southern Maine as home but are often found at family bases in New Jersey, Oahu, and Mount Desert Island, Maine. Loving to travel, they drive their Lobster Van (Promaster conversion) across the country for weddings, stashing their tiny Lagotto Romagnolo (dog) between camera bags and a Nutribullet, and using Happy Cow to explore vegan eateries along the way. They can easily be bribed with coconut milk cappuccinos. Read Kate and Keith’s articles