Weddings don’t require any significant planning or expense—if you elope to Las Vegas. For everyone else, a decent wedding can seemingly require a master’s degree in project management. Fortunately, a vegan wedding need not be any harder to plan than any other wedding. There are a few added details to attend to, but nothing of real difficulty. It’s best to think of the vegan provisions in your wedding as the fun stuff, since there’s nothing about this part of your planning that will add measurably to your workload.
You can have a vegan wedding on the down low with none of your guests being any the wiser, or you can frame things in a way that animal protection and your mutual commitment to compassionate living is front and center. If you choose the latter approach, consider holding your wedding at a farm animal sanctuary. Nearly all of them will be well-equipped to host your wedding, as hundreds of weddings have been held at these sanctuaries. The venue costs associated with a sanctuary wedding will significantly benefit the shelter’s rescued animals, while gently exposing your guests to the issues surrounding food politics and farm animal rescue.
Wherever you decide to host your wedding there are three topics that require attention for vegans: the catering, the dresses and menswear, and the photography. Let’s look at each:
Catering, Alcohol, and the Cake
By all means choose a caterer who specializes in vegan foods if there’s one available. You’ll not only likely have a much better range of hors d’oeuvre and dinner possibilities, but you’ll be supporting a business whose values align with your own. The bigger and more progressive the city you’re in, the more likely you are to easily find such a caterer. A few tips:
- If you’re getting married at an animal sanctuary, the staff is likely to be able to recommend a vegan caterer.
- Your recently-married friends may also know someone suitable.
- If all else fails, try Google searches for vegan caterers in your city. Be sure to check the ads that come up as well as the organic search results. A smart vegan caterer will have a website that’s easy to find through an appropriate web search.
Couples shopping for wedding caterers often schedule a preliminary tasting so they can decide which foods will be served on the wedding day. You should consider choosing entrees that are a little heavier than the meals you typically eat, especially if you’re someone who generally shuns vegan meats. Many of your guests are probably accustomed to eating meals that are meatier and more substantial than the foods you typically consume, and you don’t want to have people making cracks about rabbit food.
As to your wedding cake, this is no longer the bad old days where there are eggs in every baked good. Every competent bakery should know how to bake a cake without animal products, and vegan cake and icing recipes abound. And once again: Google is your friend. Do a search for vegan bakeries and vegan wedding cakes in your area. The vast majority of vegan bakeries have experience baking wedding cakes.
If you decide to serve alcohol, don’t forget to check the vegan status of the drinks you’ll be offering. Most wines and many beers are processed with non-vegan ingredients. But you can find excellent brands of booze through the definitive vegan alcohol website, Barnivore.com.
Wedding and Bridesmaids’ Dresses, and Men’s Dresswear
Since both wedding and bridesmaids’ dresses are often custom made from whichever fabrics you specify, you’ll have a great range of possibilities. These dresses are traditionally made largely of silk, but there are rayon and nylon-based fabrics that are high quality and indistinguishable from silk.
You may also consider purchasing a used wedding gown. If you buy a used gown, regardless of its vegan status, and then donate what you’ve saved to animal protection you’ll likely save far more animals from harm than if you spent that money on an expensive custom gown.
The clothing for the groom and groomsmen will be trickier to arrange than that of the bride and bridesmaids. Men’s suits and tuxedos are often made from wool or from silk. A custom-made suit or tuxedo can be made from whatever materials you specify. But things will be harder for the groomsmen if you’re doing the traditional route of renting tuxedos. You may decide that worrying about something that’s only rented and worn once isn’t worth worrying about. Where groomsmen’s apparel is concerned, you might take a route akin to religious dispensation, knowing that $50 thrown to a great animal protection organization can protect far more animals than hundreds of dollars spent in the name of achieving Level 5 vegan status for your groomsmen. Or you might just eat the expense and find a creative way to jump through the requisite hoops—it’s up to you.
Dressy vegan footwear for both men and women is easy enough to find. Zappos.com has an entirely vegan section of its store that offers a variety of dressy shoes for men and women.
Not so long ago, back before digital cameras, vegan wedding photography was immensely challenging to navigate. That’s because traditional camera film is usually coated with gelatin. But now you can just hire a photographer who shoots purely digitally. Remember that because the wedding industry is inherently conservative, many wedding photographers still shoot with film, so don’t take it for granted that your wedding will be shot digitally unless that’s something you’ve agreed on.
One reason many weddings are still shot with film is that many wedding photographers insist on owning the negatives, and then you can only get prints of your favorite shots by paying whatever exorbitant costs they charge. This demand is outrageous. Wedding photography doesn’t come cheap and photographers who try to assert ownership of your photos ought to be run out of town by a pack of wolves.
You’re more than likely to encounter a photographer who’ll try to keep rights to your wedding photos. If you do, don’t even try to argue or negotiate—just move on to the next photographer. You’ll find someone fantastic who’s able to shoot terrific photos to beautifully capture your special day. When you sign the contract, make absolutely sure that no rights to the images are owned or assigned to the photographer. They’re your photos, and you should be given every last image on a USB drive and explicitly own all rights to them.
If you and your beloved have made a lifelong commitment to compassionate living, a vegan wedding offers the chance to celebrate your values, while gently exposing your guests to the very best food and experiences a vegan lifestyle has to offer.
Remember that celebrations are a perfect moment to give compassionate living a soft-sell. You might, for instance, want to have photos of rescued farm animals at each table. Or you might announce after everyone enjoyed their food that there wasn’t a speck of meat, milk, or eggs served. Your bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts can also vegan. Vegan purses might be ideal for bridesmaids, while SlimFold wallets are a great choice for groomsmen.
Never lose sight of the fact that a wedding is all about celebrating your love and your commitment. Know that there are limitless ways to elegantly work vegan foods and compassionate values into your wedding, and with a little thinking you’ll come up with a way forward that works perfectly for you.