I’m going to take a small departure from the usual “what’s our business up to” type posts, to write about something that I’ve been keeping a secret for for years. Here goes….I’m a closet wedding junkie and I maybe always have been.
When I was a pre-teen, I would check out bridal magazines from the library and pour over the pages of decadence and sappy stories of people falling in love. As a 17 year old, I skipped school to watch endless episodes of TLC’s “A Wedding Story”, delighting in the poofy gowns, things covered in sparkles, and elaborate foods. Eloping the first time around meant I missed a lot of the ridiculous planning and excitement that goes with such an event, and then a subsequent nasty divorce turned me into many years a cynic. Ask me 6 years ago if I would ever be in this position and we would have both laughed and laughed, and then I would have launched into how the heteronormativity of both our culture in general, but specifically the wedding industry makes me want to barf, that love is dead, that marriage is an institution of the patriarchy and that none of it really matters and is a colossal waste of money. And yet. Here.We. Are.
For those of you that haven’t yet read about how I turned from a cynical (yet generally very happy because happiness comes from within, and is not actually found in another person. Until you are able to achieve happiness and satisfaction solo, you’re never going to be able to truly feel it with another-but I digress and will save it for another post :)) single parent, to a cliched bride-to-be…check out our delicious love story here.
I’m writing this out both because planning this wedding has become my most favorite job, but also because I have the unique perspective of someone who works in the wedding industry, is a queer person, and most specifically is vegan. Maybe some of you can relate, maybe your online searches for vegan weddings only brings you info from LA, or maybe you’re lazy and want to just let me show you the best of the best of vegan wedding stuff in Southern Ontario. Regardless of why you’re still reading….I promise to talk about cake.
I am happy to report that many things have changed since the last time I picked up a bridal magazine. At least in Canada, it appears that queer representation in the wedding industry has changed big time. I’ve had the pleasure of pouring over the love stories of Mrs & Mrs, Mr & Mr’s as well as a much better representation of people of colour and other cultures and traditions. What hasn’t changed much is what people eat at weddings. While the number of vegans and vegetarians in recent years has been nearly explosive (check out CBC’s latest report on that here), there still seems to be the expectation of the family that “you can eat whatever you want, but it’s unfair to force us to eat vegan food.” For one meal. On *our* special day. Just like it’s unfair that we have to live in a world that is burning to the ground because of climate change that *your* diet is causing? Mmhmm. Also, let’s celebrate two vegans getting married by paying someone to kill a cow for us. *Quietly stepping off my soapbox-I’ll show myself out* Just kidding, I built this soapbox and it’s actually a podium equipped with glitter bazookas. ✨🎉🎆🎇🎊🌈
With under a year to go until our September 28th nuptials, and the relentless excitement of my adorable mother in law to be, we’ve been convinced to not do what we do with everything else, which is leave it until the very last minute. This was surprisingly apparent when I made a few casual calls (approximately 6 months before I felt ready to commit to anything) to some of the beautiful barns around the Kingston area to arrange a visit to view the facilities. *Three* different places are already fully booked for fall 2019. W.T.F? Who are you people? With our only two other choices available, we set up appointments to see Dog House Studios in Napanee and Leopard Frog Farm in Battersea (aka the most elusive venue on the internet. Website? Nah. Phone number or address? Not that either)
We went to tour Dog House on what felt like the coldest day of the year, in an industrial area of the town of Napanee.
This venue is in an old dog biscuit factory, and has lovely details like exposed brick, original beams and charming wall signs from the original factory. It also came with everything included, and we’re lazy as hell so that was a big bonus! This seemed like a solid option until we double checked that our date was still available-the people who’s hand she was shaking when we walked in took our date. Well, f*ck. I didn’t want to have my wedding in Napanee anyways *pout*. Next up was Rad’s number one choice, Leopard Frog Farm, because in a post we had read about a skateboard ramp -which of course is a number one reason to pick a venue for your wedding. 🙄 Through a scenic drive through the Canadian shield, we followed a long tree lined road down to the spot- a 100+ year old barn,
on 200 wooded acres on Loughbourough Lake. Included is a beautiful old house, a bunkie with a sauna and unobstructed views of the water, and a mandatory 4 day rental-which means wedding time is now “all yer friends are partying at your compound” times. This one was a clear winner-we can even bring our dogs, which will mean my groom will be one happy pup.
Other things we’ve secured is our *food*, which as you can image would be the most important part. It’s never been a question of who would do our food-we’re the best at plant based catering, and that’s that. I’m not about to spend $10,000 on 100 stuffed peppers and side salads thank you very much. Radford has only ever expressed interest in a curry buffet, and that’s what he shall have. An easy choice for me, spending part of my childhood in Bangladesh means it’s one of my favorites too.
Part of my vision was having a wedding where as many hands as possible infuse our day with love, so us and some pals will have a cooking party in the lead up days to make our gorgeous buffet. It isn’t lost on me how lucky we are to have the knowledge, the commercial kitchen, serving staff already on our payroll and all the equipment needed to make this possible. Things that we have no skills at? Fancy cake decorating. Do you know who’s talented as hell? Becca Hetz, of Warrior Cakes.
Initially I hadn’t planned on getting a cake, but when my mother in law insisted that we have a cake smash, and that we could each get one-Becca was my dream cake designer.
After we embarrassingly took down 12 cupcake samples, we have our flavours-strawberry grapefruit for mine, and raspberry lemon for Rad. Her work is so beautiful I have no doubt ours will be both insanely delicious but *almost* too pretty to eat.
The last thing I’ll tell you about is the dress. I had very high hopes of a wedding as close to our sustainable values as we could muster. I am ashamed to tell you in this particular category, I’ve failed hard. I do feel like I put in a college try though, dutifully checking every thrift store in the city weekly and having my pals do the same. I also took advantage of the many online buy and sell message boards, going into many a stranger’s home to take off my clothes and try on their things. I didn’t enjoy this process as much as I thought, feeling both their high hopes of making some cash and their sadness when I couldn’t get it over my butt. I also let a couple people into mine, with the last dress smelling so heavily of cigarette smoke that I gave up the second hand message board game (for dresses only, everything and anything else previously loved is still fair game-it seriously is just for one day.) After a pretty okay day of looking, my mother in law and I wandering into a bridal store “just to find out what size I was”. At this point, I tried on a dress that angels may have made just for me, making me look like a mix between Audrey Hepburn and some sort of busty princess. I want to work in it, sleep in it, dance in it, do groceries in it, take pictures in it and most of all, get married in it. It’s perfect, and unfortunately it’s brand spanking new. Trying not to be too hard on myself, I did the math-and by feeding our 100 guests one vegan meal vs a meal of prime rib will save 120,00 liters of water, essentially 6 and a 1/2 semi trucks that hold 5,000 gallons worth each.
Wow! Also, if you still eat meat-please take a minute to reflect on how much impact you could make if you altered your diet even slightly. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.
So that’s it for now, which is frankly a ridiculous amount of planning that’s been done so far for this last minute-er. We have the pleasure of catering other vegan weddings in the upcoming season, and I look forward to seeing all the individual touches people bring to their big day. It’s always been a dream to go to a vegan wedding…life is pretty great when I not only get to go to (and cater) almost all of them, but I get to have my very own❤. I’ll try my best not to shamelessly steal all of your sweet ideas …