Tips for Planning the 'Big Day' – Vegan-Style
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi did it. So did Chelsea Clinton, Alicia Silverstone, Casey Affleck and Emily Deschanel. Not only did these celebrities show their love for their spouses when they tied the knot, they also showed their love for animals by leaving meat, eggs and dairy products off the reception menu. With more and more people making a commitment to a healthier eco- and animal-friendly lifestyle, many brides and grooms are following suit and tying the knot vegan-style.
Below are some pointers to help ensure that this most special of occasions is memorable for all the right reasons.
What to Eat
Some caterers such as Skye Cooks in London specialise in catering events that are entirely free of animal products, but these days, most caterers are happy to "go vegan" – and the results usually impress everybody. Guests at the wedding of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi were treated to vegetable spring rolls and faux-beef mini-burgers, while Alicia Silverstone's guests enjoyed grilled tempeh with black rice, vegetables in a saffron-sage sauce with vegan aioli and individual chocolate-almond midnight cakes topped with raspberries and maple-almond pecan pralines.
Approach several caterers for prices and sample menus to help ensure that you are getting the best value for your money. Most caterers are open to suggestions, so go armed with ideas and even some recipes from great vegan cookbooks such as The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen – who has cooked for Oprah Winfrey – or The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone.
For the cake, a specialty bakery such as Blue Lotus Cakes is a safe bet, but more bakeries are branching out and offering vegan options. Vegan cakes by Sweetest Things are sure to be adorning wedding tables in Scotland this spring and summer.
Some of your guests will love the food so much that they'll want to try the dishes at home, so consider printing out the menu and its accompanying recipes. What could be a better wedding present than introducing more people to the delights (and the health benefits) of vegan cuisine?
Of course, keep the glasses topped up with quality cruelty-free wines, an extensive list of which is available at veggiewines.co.uk. Most wine merchants, such as Smithfield Wine in Manchester, offer a vast selection of vegan and vegetarian nectars.
What to Wear
If you're going for a bespoke gown, most designers have a wide array of satin, linen, taffeta and other non-silk fabrics to choose from. If you're on a tight budget, high street bridal shops carry a large selection of vegan dresses in a wide range of prices. Monsoon has a few fabulous cruelty-free wedding dresses this season, so it'll be a snap to find beautiful non-silk or faux-silk dresses for the bridal party, the flower girls and the mother of the bride. Top designers such as Stella McCartney offer several non-leather shoe styles, and there's no fancy footwork involved in finding a pair through Beyond Skin, an online retailer of vegan footwear. For the bridegroom, most outfitters carry several styles of formal wear made from lightweight synthetic materials instead of silk, wool, leather and shearling.
There are numerous vegan hair salons in the UK offering products that are not tested on animals and that don't contain any animal-derived ingredients; Salon Q is one of London's best known. Many hairdressers are happy to work with products that you bring in – just be sure to ring them up in advance to let them know and to find out what they'll need to work their magic on your mane.
If you plan to offer a small gift to your guests, consider the delectable vegan dark chocolates from British chocolatiers Booja-Booja or Montezuma's. Hipo Hyfryd's truffles are to die for – and they're egg- and dairy-free. You might also want to consider making a donation in each guest's name to an animal sanctuary or other charity – but first check PETA's website for lists of charities that do and that don't fund experiments on animals. Also, if you're planning on using confetti in the celebration, be sure to look for biodegradable confetti that won't harm birds. Some couples are opting for ultra-romantic dried flower petals such as those from Martins Dried Flowers, which are eco- and animal-friendly! PETA US also has a range of beautifully designed place setting cards that will "wow" your guests as they sit to dine, with the added benefit of making changes to animals' lives through a donation per card purchased.
In addition to an all-vegan gift registry at a department store, you can set up an alternative registry online that focuses on vegan and environmentally friendly gifts or gifts of time or services. You can also ask your guests to donate a gift to a local animal shelter or to the animal rights organisation of your choice in lieu of buying a gift.
If you need any additional help or advice, we're only an e-mail away! Best wishes from all of us at PETA – we hope that your special day is everything you've dreamed of.