How We Planned Our Eco-Friendly, Vegan Farm Wedding


Being authentic to who we are, and a little different from everyone else

Tanya, Environmental Lawyer/Floral Designer & Braden, Software Development/Entrepreneur

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: A handmade, eco-friendly, vegan farm wedding reflecting our values and shared with our closest loved ones.

Planned Budget: $12,000

Actual Budget: $14,000

Number of Guests: 54 (including the wedding party)

Where we allocated the most funds

The venue, photography, and videography. Braden and I started planning our wedding only five months before the big day and we locked down our venue right away as we knew there was only one place it could be—Piebird Bed & Breakfast in Nipissing Village. In addition to being a B&B, Piebird is a vegan organic farm and small animal sanctuary. We had taken an organic gardening workshop there a year before our wedding and fell in love with it. From the cute old house, beautiful grounds, adorable animals, and being a twenty-minute drive from Braden’s parents’, it couldn’t be more perfect for us. We made it a priority to fit it into our budget. We also invested a good portion of our total wedding budget on photos and videos since those are the main keepsakes from the day and don’t regret that decision even a little bit.

Where we allocated the least funds

Alcohol: out of respect for some loved ones who have struggled with alcohol dependency we decided to make our wedding a dry one and instead served tea, coffee, iced tea, and my favorite drink—lavender lemonade (which went very quickly!). So although it wasn’t a budget motivated decision, our bar bill ended up being zero dollars. As an outdoor, afternoon affair we didn’t feel anything was missing by foregoing the booze.

What was totally worth it

Getting a wedding video: we originally debated about whether to get video or just photos, and would definitely recommend getting a videographer if you can (or having a loved one videotape the ceremony at the very least). The day goes by so quickly and I missed moments such as the little ones walking down the aisle first. Although we love the pictures, video just captures a whole other element, and I know we will treasure having video of the day in the years to come.

What was totally not worth it

Wasting time trying to paint my nails before the ceremony. Because I made all the floral arrangements, I left my nails until the last minute so they wouldn’t get wrecked. I’m not a nail polish kinda gal so I stressed myself out at the last minute trying to do a quickie manicure without getting it all over my hands or smudging them horribly. I say if something like polished nails doesn’t matter to you on any other day, don’t stress about it on your wedding day. Your wedding will fly by so focus on what matters—spending time with your loved ones and being present in the moment.

A few things that helped us along the way

I definitely relied heavily on APW during the planning process for sane advice on creating a meaningful celebration. We also received help from family and friends on DIY elements, in particular both of our mothers and my aunt.

My best practical advice for my planning self

Focus on what matters to you and try not to think about what people’s reactions may be to your choices. We had a dry, vegan wedding which I imagine is not something most of our guests had experienced before. But it was authentic to who we are, and I think at the end of the day people enjoyed being a part of something a bit different.

Also, try to involve your family and friends if you can. Shortly before our engagement we moved about five hours away from our friends and family and were planning everything on a relatively short timeframe (five months). As a result, leading up to the wedding I didn’t do traditional things like go dress shopping in a group (I purchased my dress online), or have an engagement party or shower. But when when everyone was finally in one place, one of my favourite things about the weekend was seeing our friends and family come together to help out before and after the wedding. My friends and family were busy helping with flowers the night before while the groomsmen were tying caps onto jam favours, and everyone was super awesome helping with the set up and take down. It is not only helpful to involve family and friends, but it can be a great bonding experience and chance to create memories.

Favorite thing about the wedding: Hearing my husband say the most wonderful vows he had written just made my heart melt and is my absolute favourite moment of the day. I said my vows after him and I had a hard time remembering mine because I got so emotional hearing his. There was a bit of comic relief in the ceremony though when our puppy started digging a hole in between us.

There were so many other great moments in the day that I wish I could list them all. Like having my younger sister and maid of honour bring one of the affectionate farm cats into my room for some morning cuddles. Being away from our kitties for the wedding, it put a smile on my face to have a cat purring in my bed first thing in the morning. Also, I loved our first dance. We didn’t know they were going to do this, but our musicians got the audience involved by shouting lyrics of the song and everyone really got into it. I remember looking out and seeing my older brother with a big smile on his face. It was just a great fun moment where everyone at the wedding came together.

Other Notes

We were inspired by an article on APW to do a mutual proposal as we thought it would help us start the next phase of our life together as equal partners. We went to the cutest little log cabin in a maple sugarbush and both asked each other for their hand in marriage. We had ordered custom rings for each other, but there were delays with both and neither of us had a ring when we proposed. But it was snowy outside and we had a fire, wine, fancy cheese, and each other so it was perfect.

We knew from the start that we wanted our wedding to reflect our values so we tried to make purchasing decisions with environmental impact and fair labour practices in mind. The wedding party attire was made with eco-conscious fabrics such organic cotton, hemp, and bamboo. The outfits and accessories were largely handmade in Canada, with a few items made in the U.S. and Europe. Almost all of the decorations we already had, purchased secondhand, borrowed, or were handmade by family. We opted for electronic invitations from Paperless Post to avoid paper waste, and the meal and desserts we served were vegan and organic.

Another element that was important to us was to include our pets in the big day as they are such a big part of our lives. Our dog Tenley was co-ring bearer with my nephew. He was outfitted with a custom bow tie collar made to match his dad and wore the ring pillow on his back made by my mom. Since we couldn’t include our two shy indoor cats in a way that would be safe and comfortable for them, we had a very talented artist paint realistic life sized cutout portraits of them on wood. Our two-dimensional cats got to be part of the ceremony and some of our portraits and was one of my favourite details of the day (the other being the kids’ table for my niece and nephews).

In terms of the feel of the day, we wanted our wedding to be intimate and laid back. We had under sixty guests, with no assigned seating plan and a buffet style meal. We had a variety of lawn and board games for our guests to play while we were busy with photos and after the meal. Guests were also free to explore the property to meet the animals on the farm (such as goats and turkeys), or relax on a picnic blanket (including the one handmade by my aunt for the kids to sit on during the ceremony).

For decor, two of my favorite things featured prominently—cats and flowers. I used mason jars and teapots to house flower arrangements, and I collected ceramic cats to use as table decor in the months leading up to the wedding. Since floral design is a passion of mine, I did all the florals for the wedding (with the help of family and friends who I taught a floral crash course to the day before). My aunt handmade beautiful pastel bunting flags, and Braden’s mom made the signage. We also placed old bells collected from family members on the tables for guests to ring whenever they wanted the newlyweds to kiss. My five-year-old nephew was pretty enthusiastic about ringing the bells to the point where Braden’s grandmother yelled out for us to “save some for the honeymoon.”


The Info:

Photographer: The Love Studio | Location: Nipissing Village, Ontario | Venue: Piebird Bed & Breakfast | Florals: Presh Floral | Wedding Dress: Custom by Pure Magnolia | Garter: Alice by Florrie Mitton | Veil: The Handmade Bride | Bridal Sash: Custom by Reah at Luxe Bridal | Bridal Jewellery: Sarah Walsh Bridal Jewellery | Flower Girl Dress: Olive & Fern | Men’s Outfits: Rawganique | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Muse from The Handmade Bride | Bow Ties: Pomp & Ceremony | Suspenders: The Beau and the Belle from the Handmade Bride | Dog Bow Tie Collar: Custom from Rover | Pet Portraits: Rheal Imagination | Chair Rental: All Shelter | Bride’s Rings: Megan Thorne  from Magpie Jewellery | Invitations: Paperless Post

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  • guest

    What a sweet wedding.

  • jubeee

    Beautiful Wedding. I’ve been debating wearing a crown of flowers for your pictures have inspired me. We will be getting married and celebrating our reception at a wildflower preserve so it just makes sense.

  • Rhie

    This looks like a hobbit wedding in the best possible way!

    • I thought the same, so cute!

  • laddibugg

    Lavender lemonade sounds yummy.

    I love doing my nails everyday, but I understand not wanting to wreak the polish–there are a few companies hat make 3- and 5-free gel polishes so you don’t have to worry as much. IF I won’t have time the day of an event to paint my nails, I get a gel mani.

    • vegankitchendiaries

      I’ve had a tonne of gel manis but I still think dealing with your own flowers might mess them up. Your hands are just so bloody disgusting at the end of it….

      • laddibugg

        That’s a good point, the polish might be ok, but your skin might not.

  • scw

    I’m glad you mentioned the cats, because I missed them when first looking at the ceremony photos!

  • vegankitchendiaries

    WHAT, NO FOOD PICTURES?! ;-)

  • Do you have a link to the video? I LOVE watching wedding videos, even those of strangers, and I really want to see yours :)

    • Never mind, I found it on your photog’s website :)

      • vegankitchendiaries

        So do I so I’m going to go watch it now…. And probably well up.

      • vegankitchendiaries

        OMG IT WAS AMAZING! That’s a beautiful Canadian wedding song too… :)

  • Anna

    that GOAT!

  • up_at_Dawn

    Gorgeous.

    Now I have a serious crush on your photographer…

  • veganatarian

    If either the bride or groom is here, could you discuss how you managed expectations (if there were any to manage) for the omnivores re: having vegan food at your wedding?

    My beau and I are vegan and when we get married, we want vegan food there. I would prefer to not have any animal products around whatsoever, but important people to both of us (including my dad and sister, who are both lovely people) roll their eyes whenever I explain this.

    They also think eating vegan for one meal will leave them starved. I explain that everyone can go get late night burgers after the reception or what not if they’re hungry, but vegan food is tasty, filling, not just “rabbit food,” and is an important value we share.

    And if any other vegan brides see this…help!

    Thanks!

    • vegankitchendiaries

      I’m not the bride but had a vegan wedding! My (now) husband and I are both vegan and we knew about seven thousand percent that our wedding wasn’t going to involve any animal produce. Veganism is likely just as important to you guys too so I hope you’re able to stick to your guns (and values) with it!

      I think my advice would be to ignore the eye rolls and if your family start doing anything close to insisting, BE STRONG. And nobody is going to complain if you serve shit hot food. We had a vegan burger food truck (http://lovinghutvancouver.ca/) and they served up some meaty-as-hell fare. People RAVED about the food and I made damn sure there was more than enough to go around because I didn’t want even one person to be able to moan some “wah, wah, twigs and berries” comment.

      Whatever you serve, maybe just try to keep your protein high? The burgers we served were Gardein brand patties, and filled everyone up a treat. I honestly believe the food at my own wedding is the best of all the weddings I’ve ever been too… #bias #ego

      • veganatarian

        thank you! and I HATE those conversations. and any that go: “well it’s great you can go without meat, but I could NEVER do it.”

        Um, ok?

    • Mandi P

      I’m not the bride from this fantastic outdoor vegan wedding. I am a vegetarian (perhaps on my way to veganism). My fiancé likes meat & eats it about once a day. We’re having a vegetarian+ dinner at our wedding reception — meaning, all of our food with be vegetarian, plus there will be one meat dish. That’s fine with me and I decided it’ll be easier this way, rather than having to explain that yes, you can feel full when eating vegetarian.

      Decide what’s important to you and go with it! (That’s some of the best advice I’ve learned on APW – for many aspects of the planning process!)

      • veganatarian

        Thanks Mandi!

    • We had a vegetarian wedding, and I found, as vegankitchendiaries pointed out, that staying strong was key. Once my parents understood (and they were the real hold outs) how much it meant to my fiance and me to not have meat at our wedding, they got on-board. What also worked for us was having something that even omnivores often eat without meat. For us, that was quiche. Over the summer before our wedding, my mom, now-husband, a couple of friends, and I made about sixty quiches and froze them (we had a big wedding in my parents’ backyard). We then had fruit, veggies, hummus, and cheese beforehand along with salad, rolls, and this amazing dairy-free sweet potato casserole my mom whipped up the weekend before.

      Not publicizing the fact may have also helped, if you don’t mind being sneaky. A few weeks after our wedding, we were on the way to another vegetarian wedding that had been highly publicized as such. My husband’s friend was grumbling about it and when we asked him if he’d been hungry at our wedding, he started going on about how good the food was. He was shocked when we told him it was vegetarian. Obviously quiche won’t work

      • Disqus is weird for me! I wanted to say that obviously quiche won’t work and a tofu based vegan quiche might be a bit much for some of your less adventurous omnivorous guests. But I definitely advise having foods that are seen as “normally” vegan. So, you could have something like pasta with lots of beautiful and delicious veggies tossed in

        • veganatarian

          Now I’m thinking of making my bean and walnut based quiche (with asparagus or peas blended in). yum :)

      • veganatarian

        That’s a great idea! I think our families are freaked out by fake meat.

        And that’s awesome that your mom made food after being a holdout :)

        • Yeah. She’s a pretty awesome lady! We were really lucky to have her planning and cooking skills heading up the team!

      • Sara P

        I am neither vegan nor vegetarian, but we are having a (possibly) big wedding in our backyard and I’ve been trying to figure out what to serve (we’re also self-catering). Quiche might be the best idea I’ve heard so far! How’d you go about thawing it and such beforehand? Was it a pretty good way to go?

        • Quiche was a great way to go to feed hundreds of people. My parents have a big freezer, so we stored most of them in that. Also, in my hometown, there’s a community center with an industrial kitchen anyone can rent. So, we used that freezer, too. My mom and aunt moved them all to refrigerators around town the Thursday before the wedding. We hired people to do the actual heating in a rented oven that my parents had put in their basement for the weekend. This method worked well for me because I’m a teacher, so we could make all the quiches in a marathon baking weekend over the summer and then we froze them until the wedding in early October. I actually keep meaning to write up our wedding because we managed to self-cater and have an at-home wedding for about three hundred people for less than $10,000 without feeling cheap. This knowledge seems important to share, so please feel free to ask any other questions!

          • Angela

            OMG. Please share the details soon! This looks really interesting!

      • TeaforTwo

        I think the best advice here is not to publicize it. People will eat what’s there in the moment, and will be JUST FINE. Definitely nobody is going to complain to you at your own wedding about the food. (But for some reason they will complain in advance.) And frankly, if you’re not self-catering and needing to recruit a team…just keep everyone out of it. No need to have parents, in-laws, meat-loving uncles etc. going over the menu in advance.

    • Tanya

      Bride here – we had maybe one comment before the wedding about the vegan menu along the lines of “we’ll have to stop and get McDonalds on the way” and I think I just rolled MY eyes at that. If people can’t skip animal products for a few hours to share in a clearly important day in our lives that is kind of lame. Get McDonalds on the way, I don’t care. Also, while we clearly publicized in advance that it would be a dry wedding (due to family members with substance abuse problems), I don’t think we did the same for the fact that it was vegan wedding. It wasn’t a secret given where it was being held, but we didn’t make a big deal out of it.

      Overall our family was really supportive or our unconventional choices and our guests seemed to enjoy everything, food included. We had a lot of comments about how great the food was and that they were happy they got to try good vegan food.

      I also think it helped that our guest list was relatively small. Since everyone there was close to us they knew what was important to us and weren’t going to try to rain on our parade with complaints about the menu.

    • Rachel

      Good for you choosing to stick to your values! We had a vegan wedding and I struggled with some of the same concerns. We had a non-vegan rehearsal dinner, which was not totally comfortable for us. Looking back I wish we had stuck to an all vegan weekend. But the vegan reception food we had was incredible! We got lucky and found a really excellent caterer who used local, organic produce and just made really interesting, unique dishes. We knew once we tasted her food that people would not complain. When people made jokes leading up to the wedding about being “starving” I would just say, “Just wait. You will not be disappointed.” And no one was. My husband’s father who is extremely picky went back for seconds he liked it so much. So I would suggest choosing food that you know is delicious and just ignoring that snide comments. It’s easier said than done, I know! Stay strong!

  • Jim Corcoran

    Delicious vegan food is one reason why the number of vegans has doubled in less than 3 years. Here’s a video to help everyone understand why so many people are making this life affirming choice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKr4HZ7ukSE

    Join the revolution! http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/step-by-step-guide-how-to-transition-to-vegan-diet/

  • Stacy {Woodsy Weddings}

    The tea length dress is adorable and I love, too, that the men rolled up their pants. This is such a cute and low key wedding.

  • fluffisacoolword

    YAY go team vegan!!

  • Rachel

    What a gorgeous and sweet wedding! Love the flowers, Love the dress, Love the GOAT! Yay vegan weddings!

  • oh helllllll yes. I missed this last week but will bookmark it in my heart. best part: vegan! :) (and you know, your love and all …)

  • All the wedding venues should have a vegan menu these days, it is obviously becoming an everyday thing and i do believe that every guest a vegan or not, can enjoy a vegan menu. There are so many wonderful vegan meals. A friend of mine is planning a wedding at The Inn at New Hyde Park (http://innatnhp.com/), I hope they will indulge us with a great menu, maybe even something for our vegan friends.

  • Lia

    This is amazing!!! We are having a veggie wedding in southern Ontario in June. Your post and pictures and description actually made me cry! It was so sweet and sincere :) We are having our 9-year old pup as ring bearer too, such a tension reliever! Happy you had a wonderful day.

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  • Christine Fallabel

    SO GLAD I found this thread. We are having a mountain, vegan wedding, and my family is FLIPPING out. We kindly put a note on our website stating that it will be an entirely vegan wedding, and if anyone is allergic to vegetables, to let me know. A little tongue in cheek goes a long way ;)