Planning our Plant-Based Wedding
It took us eight years to get here, but that happened to be just the right amount of time for us to get it together and plan ourselves a wedding. We were engaged for a total of a 18 months and I felt like planning took up every second. How does that happen?! Weddings are crazy guys, I'm not going to hold any punches there. They're crazy and stressful and beautiful and magic, all rolled into one. But man - am I glad it's over! I didn't start going into full on plan-and-panic mode until about 6 months before the big day. Before that, its hard to get other people interested in accomplishing anything. "It's still so far away!" they'd say, as I'd be obsessively reloading my email hoping for a response from a vendor. Here's my biggest advice for you: DON'T wait until the last second - on anything! The more you plan ahead, the more you can relax on the big day. I wasn't even stressed to get married - that was the best part, to me! Marrying my best friend and biggest supporter wasn't the stressful part - it was making sure everyone ELSE was where they needed to be, and that all the people who needed to be paid, got paid - on time. But they did, and it went off without a hitch! Okay, that's not true. Our speakers blew mid-reception and I literally ended up having to go bra-less, unexpectedly, in my wedding dress all day. But would we even remember the day if everything went smoothly? Probably not as well nor with as much fondness for all of the things that did go right. So without getting into too much madness, I'm going to break down how I planned this crazy thing and in a follow-up post we'll go over the event itself. I've broken up my planning into stages by vendor essentially, since that's how I went about planning. Now, we kept our wedding under 10K. How? Being smart + thrifty, whenever we could, and using any and all resources available to us! My Mom, Dad, and Alex's parents each gave us a little money to spend on the wedding, but we mostly paid for it ourselves. Look, getting engaged is the hardest part - the second is finding a venue. So we'll start there!
The venue was the biggest part for us. The first real decision to be made, and the first expensive thing we'd be paying for. We decided on The Riverbed Farm in Anaheim, CA for three main reasons: first, it was close to where we live, about a 15 minute drive from our house. That made it easy for us to get there for set-up, easier for our friends and family who live nearby to attend, and easy to bail at the end of the night! Second, we'd done a cooking event there months before so we were familiar with the venue set-up and employees. Third, the PRICE! I'm all about being transparent, so I'll be honest when I say we rented the space for just $2,000. Cheaper than almost ALL the places we looked at, and way nicer! We were only the 2nd couple to book a wedding here ever, so the price was still pretty low when we did. No guarantees what it is now - it's become a busy spot since we booked, nearly a wedding each weekend in the summer! We loved this space because as a working hydroponics farm, all vegetables and eggs raised on the property from the roaming chickens are donated back to the community. Schools and church crews regularly volunteer time here, as it's a totally non-profit organization. The space was about half-filled with guests and tables and decor and about half-filled with rows of towering, growing vegetables and ladybugs. We loved it! It was the perfect blend of our Maine and California lives. We set up a dance floor on a deck to the left and set up our ceremony and couples table on the deck at the front of the farm, so we could easily see our guests and socialize between snack breaks. All of the decor in the space was provided and arranged by Alex's Mom, Jennifer. We were so lucky to be able to use her design skills to make the farm into our perfect wedding venue!
PICKING A THEME / COLORS:
This is really a preference things, obviously, but there are a few things to consider before you decide. First, consider your location. If you're having a wedding with lots of green and brown - like ours - maybe you pick a more neutral, earth tones-based palette with lots of wood and natural decor. If you're getting hitched by the ocean, maybe you lean into blues, greens, and glass accents instead. Or maybe your favorite color is pink and you've always envisioned your wedding PINK. Then do that! I wanted to pick colors that both played up our outdoorsy theme and accented my skin tone and dress, personally. I have green eyes, so I wanted some green in there somewhere to help them POP in photos. We got married on June 10th, so I envisioned a light, summery color scheme. It was easy then to add cream and blush pink to our colors, and a bit of dusty yellow and maroon for contrast. I also used gold as an accent - no silver at our wedding. It's just not my fave! In the end, we had a gorgeous palette that wound in colors from from our venue and outfits, and looked beautiful in photos. We stayed as natural as possible with the decor. Since our colors were summer-inspired and our tones muted, we accented with a lot of lace + burlap, as well. We bought a few pieces - garland and hanging things, mostly - from Etsy, but the rest was conceived and brought to life by Alex's Mom, Jen. She's an interior designer, and we were so lucky to have her help decorating the space. She completely handled the tablescapes full of fresh fruit, greenery, blue glass jars and wood accents herself - and we loved how it turned out!
HOW TO PICK A PHOTGRAPHER:
If you can't tell by this post, I LOVE my wedding photos. I'm happy to show them off because our photographer did SUCH a great job! Her name is Natalie, she runs Like Morning Sun Photography, and she's a recent college graduate who lives here in the OC. I found her through Instagram (the best!) and we chatted through email before meeting in person. I found a LOT of great photographers on Instagram, but I was immediately drawn to Natalie's photography because of her unique use of natural light. Her photos are bright and romantic, and she captures candids beautifully. Also, she was affordable. People pay an INSANE amount of money for wedding photos. And I get it! They're forever, and you want them well done. Plus, it is a lot of work for the photographer - they're often justified and fair in their pricing. But we were having a smaller wedding at smaller venue and we didn't need all the bells and whistles (video, 2+ photographers, ect), and we just couldn't see spending more on the photography than we had on the venue + food combined. Nat gave us a fair rate for her work, and then went ahead and exceeded our expectations over and over again. Her shots came out beautifully, and her energy and presence at the wedding were wonderful. Our family and friends raved about her afterward, and I just hired her to do the new shots here for the site. If you're looking for a phenomenal photographer, she's your girl!
DECIDING ON FOOD + DRINKS:
This was my favorite part - and maybe one of my biggest stressors in the beginning! As someone who LOVES food, I was pretty set on having really great vegan food at our wedding. We even got a little kickback from Alex's family at first about keeping the food vegan - but we quickly reminded them that it was our wedding, and that frankly, they could choose to eat one great vegan meal or skip dinner - not our problem. And honestly, that's how it has to be; You can respect your guests dietary preferences without sacrificing your own!
Luckily, we're blessed with all kinds of great, plant-based food here in Orange County, so I hit up one of my all-time favorite food trucks, Falasophy, for a tasting. They killed it, and we were happy to hire them to feed our 100 guests. They ended up serving two main dishes, a falafel-stuffed pita bahn mi and spicy falafel tacos, and served them right from the truck. They also provided a range of apps for us and our guests, including tabbouleh, dolmas, pita + hummus, which went straight to the tables.
For desserts we had both a wedding cake and a donut bar. Our wedding cake, something I originally thought I'd make myself, was handmade by Meghan from Dr. Raw Organics. She made us a custom marijuana-infused edible 2-layer white cake with strawberry frosting that she decorated beautifully with edible flowers and topped with a matching garland. I am still OBSESSED with it! We let our guests know it was medicated, should they choose to enjoy some, and also set-up a 6-flavor donut bar across the venue for those who'd rather not indulge in cake. The donut bar was something I saw become trendy a few years ago and loved the idea of. We called up the best vegan donut purveyor in the area, The Caffeinated Kitchen in Long Beach, to help us make it happen. We decided on 120 donuts in 6 flavors: matcha, blueberry coconut, strawberry sprinkled, churro, blood orange, and cookies and cream. Alex's mom set up the table decor and it was simply gorgeous - the donut bar was the busiest spot at our wedding for sure!
When it came to deciding on drinks, we kept it cheap and biased. Haha. We don't drink much alcohol (read: any, really) and din't want to spend a ton of money on it at the wedding since we wouldn't be partaking. So we opted to just buy two kegs of beer (Golden Road Hefeweizen and 805 Pale Ale) and then served Whalebird Kombucha on tap, as well. We let our friends know ahead and a few decided to bring small flasks with them for their own party enjoyment. Since we also had an edible cake and we didn't want everyone getting toooo screwy, we kept the rest of our drinks for the evening non-alcoholic. We had wheelbarrows around the venue packed with ice, bottles of water, HonestTea in two flavors, and fresh juices from 1915 Organic - which kept everyone hydrated and happy in the June heat. My rec: have a variety of drinks! Our friends still drank plenty and we ended up moving the after party to a bar later, anyway. Plus, everyone was well hydrated and no one needed to call a cab. It was a win-win!
It's all about the music! From getting you down the aisle to grooving the night away with your guests, you want music that'll keep the party going all night long. I've included an upload of our full playlist below, but I should note that about 1/2 of our music didn't get played because the speakers blew at our wedding...TWICE. We had a big span in the middle with no music - which no-one seemed to notice except me, of course! We did have a DJ, but I can't really blame him for that. He did a great job getting the party going as soon as the speakers were working again!
In case you don't want to dig through the whole playlist, I'll highlight the best parts for you:
While I walked down the aisle and while we exited after the ceremony, my best friend from childhood, Emma, played live violin to the tune of Jeremih's 'Paradise'. Alex walked down the aisle before me to Childish Gambino's 'California'. Our first dance was to 'Breathless' by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
FINDING THE DRESS (+ SHOES!):
It only took me visiting 4 different salons before I found my dress. That may sound like a lot, but I promise it isn't many. I tried on a few dresses as each place and fit like none of them seemed worthy of the big day. Luckily, I kept searching - I knew I wanted a lace, floor-length dress with sleeves - and found mine at a tiny showroom nestled deep in the Hollywood Hills. Kite and Butterfly is a funky space overlooking the Hollywood Sign and literally own by two sisters named Kite and Butterfly, a set of long-haired whimsical twin ladies with an eye for gorgeous, unique dress designs. Their showroom was full of sunlight and I tried on about 3 dresses before this one. I didn't exactly have a "THIS IS MY DRESS" moment; more like I put it on and was like - yeah! I look good! And these sleeves!! Haha. My dress was handmade and unique in that way, but we customized it a bit more by taking out some of the bottom layer of the dress and lowering the neckline an inch. I ended up losing a lot of weight before the wedding because of the sheer amount of stress I was under, and my last fitting ended up being about 8 weeks before my wedding. I should've waited. On the day of my wedding, I tried on my dress and the bra I had bought to wear with it only to realize that my breasts had gotten SO much smaller, the bra didn't fit any more. I was SWIMMING in that top half of the dress. It was annoying, but I ditched the bra wore the dress by itself on the big day. And it worked out just fine!
The shoes were a little harder to find. I hate wearing high heels, and because of the soft ground at our venue I was pretty adamant about wearing flats or something at least under a 3-inches. I wanted to be able to dance the night away, not complain about blisters and sore feet all evening! I looked online a lot without any luck, and one day while driving through Silverlake realized MooShoes was down the street. I stopped in - no expectations - and walked out with my wedding shoes! They were about $80 and have a low, wooden heel. I liked the cut-out accents and that they matched my dress - PLUS were the kind of shoe I could totally wear again.
And since I know you'll ask: Alex's outfit! He put to together himself, mostly. His pants and shirt are from Zara, the suspenders from Express. He owned the bowtie already, and he bought the shoes super last minute (thanks for the rush shipping!) from Insecta Shoes. They make really cool, unisex shoes that we totally love. He found a pattern with some florals in our wedding colors, and they worked out perfectly. Oh! And the flower crown, bouquet, and boutonniere were all custom creations from The Crown Collective here in LA. Carolyn made them to order based on my descriptions and our color scheme an they literally could not have come out more perfectly. They MADE our outfits!
USE YOUR RESOURCES!
Use who and what you have! Your friends and family are going to be so happy and excited for you - and they'll want to be involved! Give them small jobs here and there to relieve your own stress, and if you have a wedding party (we didn't - oops!) then DELEGATE! You can save a lot of time and money by reaching out to your inner circle before jumping online to try and search through thousand of reviews from people you don't know. Alex's mom ended up decorating nearly our entire wedding and my Dad was totally in charge of arranging the keg arrival and set-up. That doesn't speak to the tons of friends we had helping us arrange pick-ups, set-up, and break-down. It was less for us to worry about, and our parents and friends were glad to help. If you have those people, use them! Then thank them profusely and give them all the hugs for getting you there. We all need a support system, and you'll be far less stressed if you tap into yours early.
Stay tuned for PART 2: Our Plant-Based Wedding!
My Vegan Bachelorette Weekend!
Hi friends! This post has taken me a lot longer to write than it probably should have, between my crippling anxiety that dealing with this particular event gave me and the fact that my wedding was Saturday. If you wanna see some sneak peeks from our gorgeous, perfect wedding (posts coming soon!), check out my instagram page + story. If you're interested in reading more about my anxiety attack and how I am learning, in an ongoing way, to deal with it, you can check out my recent post on both subjects here. If not, then I'm going to dive right into this post and focus on the good: because that's really how I'd prefer to remember it! It wasn't a perfect weekend, but it was pretty great, and I'm really lucky that I had people there that had my back.
The weekend kicked off in a caravan to Palm Springs and a visit to the Palm Springs Art Museum to see the new Jeffrey Gibson installation in the sculpture gardens. Our ultimate goal that afternoon before our AirBNB check-in would be to visit Desert X, his other running installation just a mile from where we were staying in PS. The sculpture garden was really neat, and I particularly loved the amount of blown glass artwork they had - so cool to see!
After the museum we headed a little further into town to the Palm Greens Cafe, one of my favorite places to grab a meal whenever I'm in town. They have a great, super vegan-friendly breakfast, brunch, and lunch menu, plus a board full of fresh juices and smoothies that'll keep you cool in the hot desert weather. My favorite is their Pineapple Jalapeño Cucumber juice - it's sweet, spicy, and super refreshing. We met up with most of the rest of our group at the restaurant for lunch, and texted final grocery and alcohol orders to the stragglers meeting us at the house later. At this point I was getting super excited to see where we'd be staying and to finally head over to the Desert X exhibit. We headed to the AirBNB for check-in, and were a little surprised at how small it was; cute - totally! But also super much smaller than it looked in photos (isn't that always the case?) and a little dingier. But it would do the trick! It was a strange setup - like a house with most of the rooms combined, plus two attached in-law apartments. A strange structure that made for even weirder sleeping arrangements, but it had a pool and hot tub! Not even the semi-creepy on-property manager (yeah, that definitely wasn't in the listing) could kill the vibe.
We split into rooms, my sister and I splitting one of the larger and more personal in-law apartments, and then headed back to the outskirts of town towards Desert X. The exhibit is basically a large house made entirely of mirrors - and it is super cool! Only about half the group made the trip, but we all thought it was rad and made sure to get plenty of cool photos. I mean, we had to! It was incredible to be alone in an entire room of mirrors - which you might've seen behind the scene footage of if you're following my instagram stories. 😉
Since I want to be super transparent and honest with you guys, you should know that I was lucky enough to have some really great brand support the weekend through product donation from the following brands: Dandies, Eat Pastry, Harmless Harvest, YumEarth, Organic Gemini, Tater Tats, Larabar, Ozery, Juicero, Hippeas, NadaMoo and Utopia Farms. I want to give them all a HUGE shoutout for being involved and for sharing their products with us for the weekend. They kept us fed, hydrated, full and ready to party, and for that I am so thankful. I love and support ALL of these brands, and recommend their products for real: no paid advertisement needed!
The snacks made the weekend a freaking blast - and saved us a bunch of time and money. Our fridge was fully stocked - it was truly a thing of beauty. I wish I'd gotten a better picture, but the lighting info ur AirBNB was total crap - lots of shade to block out that hot desert sun. There's a picture of every product on here, but the Ozery + Juicero (in the bottom right of the first photo set) are unlabeled - though were maybe the most eaten products! 😝
We loved using Organic Gemini's tigernut-based protein for our morning smoothies along with some fresh fruit (especially those that indulged in alcohol the night before, haha!) and munching on Larabars all day long between meals to keep us full-time on healthy fats. The Harmless Harvest and Juicero kept us hydrated around the pool, and the Dandies, Eat Patsry, YumEarth and NadaMoo made delicious desserts! Most of the attendees had never tried Hippeas before and they were and instant hit at the party. Utopia Farms provided the medicated edibles - which was AWESOME for me because I don't really drink, and Tater Tats gave us the temporary tattoo entertainment!
The first morning we woke up and everyone was a little hungover - except me - so I practiced a little yoga and made morning smoothies for the group. The rest of the day was the perfect pool day - lots of sun, drinking, poolside snacking, and floating around in fruit-shaped inflatables. I brought along a tie dye kit and we made rad, very nineties souvenirs take home. Turns out you can get a super easy, 30-dye kit with easy apply nozzles at Michaels for like $20. It was so worth it! The evening was a blur of games of Cards Against Humanity, late-night hot tubbing, and some serious dance sessions. We headed to bed late and got up early the next day for our 11 am check out. Everyone was sleepy, a little hungover, and tired of being in the sun.
Lots of long and loving goodbyes later, we were on the road home. I was exhausted from the weekend emotionally and physically, and was so ready to get home to see (my now HUSBAND!) Alex. We cruised back past the Cabazon Dinosaurs and home. Over - a great weekend. My tips? I've got a few!
And once it's all over, just remember - no matter how it goes - you are that much closer to marrying your partner and that part is so, so worth it. A snapshot of the crew below - thanks to all my friends for sharing my bachelorette weekend with me!