My Big Fun Vegan Wedding!
July 23, 2016 … the best day of my life, the day I married my best friend and made lifelong memories with our closest friends and family. I had a few “must haves” that went in to our wedding planning:
I wanted it to be the truest representation of Nathan & I, our family, our story and for God’s orchestration of our love to be seen by all.
I wanted to honor our parents by planning a celebration that not only was about the bride & groom, but also about the people who made us who we had become.
I valued having only our closest family and friends there – people who mattered most, people who supported and loved us, the people who played vital roles in our lives; and I wanted them to have the BEST time dancing & laughing the night away.
It needed to scream our love for WVU (if you know us you understand)
And as a plant based dietitian, with Italian roots and who LOVES food, I wanted people to have a delicious culinary experience and to truly enjoy their meal. Since food is a huge part of my career, my passion and my family – this was VERY important.
So, how does one have a vegan wedding? And how do they do this in the state of West Virginia with 98% of the guests NOT vegan? Well, as someone who did this on a budget, with university catering, a smaller than small town bakery, a nutrition degree and who has guests raving about the dancing AND the food to this day… let me tell you! :)
Let’s start with dessert FIRST:
Mt. Morris, PAis a tiny town 1 mile across the PA-WV state line, and is where my family roots began long ago. When I was in college at WVU, I moved back to this tiny town and worked during the summer at a smalll bakeryin Mt. Morris, coincidentally named after my Great Grandma Addie’s famous Salt Risen Bread and the creek my Pappy grew up on – The Rising Creek Bakery. This was not a vegan bakery, not even in the slightest. But as I worked there they would make special sandwiches and baked good substitutions for me. I cherished my summer memories there and could think of no better people to ask to make the most special baked good of my life. While they had never made a vegan cake before, they encouraged my input and vegan baking experience to help them create, what I would say was, the best wedding cake I have ever had.
The Cake Details:
Vegan Vanilla Butter Cream Icing
2 Tier, 6 total layer wedding cake (chocolate on the bottom tier, lemon on the top tier)
Dozens of mini and full size cupcakes with the assortment of lemon, chocolate and vanilla flavors all with the same icing
All cakes were with NO animal products. Using flaxseed, applesauce + baking soda to sub the eggs and to cut down the oil
Reception Goodies & Dinner Delights:
When I have anyone to our home who isn’t vegan, I like to make meals that are recognizable to most omnivores but that are free of any animal products. I keep the flavors very familiar and the food items pretty common place. I typically don’t stress the fact that we are “vegan” or that the meal will be “vegan” to not skew perception or create any bias on what I will be serving. I like the food to do the talking so that people can see how easy it can be to eat this way and how great it can taste! I wanted to have this same experience present at our wedding. A vegan, plant based diet has brought SO many health benefits to my family. I try to share this possibility with other families as often as I can, and what better time to do so than at your wedding right? So, this Italian girl and her mama put together a menu idea for the catering company that was vegan, plant based, full of nutrient dense colors and flavors – pretty much a plant based pasta party (with Gluten Free options for some of my friends with gluten intolerance) that was delicious!! Who doesn’t like pasta and marinara sauce right? Along with a few other delicious hors d'oeuvres listed below, we served an under the radar plant based meal that everyone enjoyed. For my family, and for many others, food is love. And I LOVED being able to serve a delicious and beautiful meal to those who mean the most to Nathan & I.
Stuffed Mushroom Caps
Dinner – Build Your Own Pasta & Salad Bar:
Option of a Pasta or Rice (GF) base
Toppings: Mushrooms, artichokes, grilled zucchini, grilled Brussel sprouts, grilled eggplant, grilled asparagus and roasted potatoes
Mixed greens salad with toppings: peppers, tomato, olive, cucumber, peas, corn all cold with a few dairy-free dressings
Our wedding day was the truest representation of us. The ceremony celebrated our journey up until that point, the people we had become and the life and love before us. Our reception party was filled with dancing, laughing, smiling and the BEST Proud Mary flash mob surprise put on by our family! It was a day I will forever cherish. It was a family reunion and wedding all wrapped up in to one beautiful jamboree.
If I can give any advice to those about to walk down the aisle I would say to:
Make it as authentically YOU as possible – don’t feel the need to copy any one else’s plan. This day is about the love you both have for each other.
Take a moment to step back with your new spouse and look out to see all the people who have gathered to celebrate you. Forever hold that gratitude in your heart.
Honor your parents – It is as much about celebrating them and all they have done as it is the both of you.
Keep a quality over quantity mindset when making your guest list – you don’t need to have a huge amount of people to have a GREAT party. You want people there who will support the vow you are making on your wedding day and who will be there to support you throughout your future together.
And as my wonderful and wise wedding planner said, “invite God to the wedding.” – He is love, He will be the one guiding your future. Build your foundation on Him.
Advice I would give to anyone looking to have a plant based wedding or large event:
Find a caterer who is willing to work with you – they do not even have to be plant based/vegan (although that would be a plus), as long as they are open to suggestions and ideas.
If most of your guests are not accustomed to eating without animal products, keep the meal simple and recognizable.
Create great flavor with herbs, spices and fresh produce.
Have enough of a variety so that guests can pick and choose what they would like to try and enough quantity so everyone feels full and satisfied. We really enjoyed the customizable menu option because this gave everyone a chance to create a personalized meal.
The time has truly flown by, and it is hard to believe it has already been 3 years since this magical day. I am so grateful for that first meal as one big united family. Cheers to many more years and meals with the same family, new and old friends, and my strength coach bestie forever by my side! Happy Anniversary to the man who makes me better every single day!
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