Michael and I got married on the 12th of March 2016. We got engaged in Paris only 5 1/2 months earlier and started planning the wedding while we were travelling through Europe. I wanted to share with you some of the details of how we put together our minimalist vegan wedding.
I’ll also share some useful tips and minimalist vegan wedding ideas for when you’re planning your own. We also did a podcast episode on our wedding, so if you prefer to listen to it, you can check that out!
I’ll break it down into each part of the process and share some beautiful photos along the way that were taken by a super talented lady Lauren Campbell.
With so many more vegans globally, there are greater opportunities to start supporting businesses that are vegan and value eco-conscious business practices. This would have been ideal for us but there weren’t any options for us to pick vegan businesses specifically besides the business that made our wedding cakes.
Before we get into it, I’ve added a table of contents so you can easily go to what specifically interests you or to give you an idea of what you’ll find in this post.
Our guest list
We were both on the same page when it came to the number of guests we wanted at the wedding. Being minimalists, we were aiming for around 50 guests in total (which to some, may still be a lot!). I’d say making the guest list was probably one of the hardest parts of the whole wedding process.
Luckily, Michael and I both don’t have big families and only have our immediate families that live close by (well most of them). Our list got bigger and bigger as time went on and we ended up inviting around 80 people. Our wedding guest list ended up being 63 people in total.
We were happy with that number as it meant that we could still have a beautiful day but not feel like there were people there that we wouldn’t have noticed if they didn’t come (sounds harsh maybe, but it’s true). We knew well that we would upset some people because we didn’t allow children (besides our niece and nephew), partners that we didn’t know, and people we hadn’t seen in a long time or didn’t have much of a relationship with anymore.
This was a real challenge for us, and our minimalist mindset was well and truly tested. Like most, we don’t like upsetting people. I’m such a people pleaser that I really struggled with this part.
It meant a lot to us to have people there that we knew and to celebrate with close family and friends. It was just that simple for us.
I personally asked myself the following questions when making decisions on who to invite:
- Would I say hi to them if I walked past them on the street?
- Would I feel sad if I wasn’t invited to their wedding?
- Would I feel sad if I didn’t see them share our special day with us?
- Am I just inviting them because I would feel wrong not to?
- Am I just inviting them because they are family?
It’s worthwhile asking yourself these questions and setting your intentions before you start inviting people otherwise you might end up creating a guest list that you’re just not happy with. Sometimes family has a say in who you invite, but at the end of the day, it’s your special day, not theirs.
This was a no-brainer for us. The thought of creating physical invitations made me want to run for the hills! Knowing myself, they would have to be works of art, and honestly, I wasn’t prepared to spend days, even weeks on designing, printing, writing and posting them out.
Instead, we created a Squarespace website where people could fill out a form to RSPV and that would generate an email that was sent out to us to generate our guest list. It took us one full day to get it all done, and it was so worth it.
It’s much easier to make a website as there are plenty of templates to choose from. In total, the website cost us about $100 AUD. We had photos from a shoot we did with Lauren prior and some photos we got from the venue to include as part of the details of where it’ll be held.
It also made it easier as people didn’t have to save the paper and bring it with them to know where they are going. Having it online, made it much more accessible on the road.
We learned quickly that not many people seem to use this method of inviting guests in Australia, but it’s much more popular in America. All the people we spoke with wish that they’d done the same thing!
Note: A tiny portion of our non-technical guests needed some guidance on how to navigate around the website – so if you’re going down that road, be prepared to provide some support.
What we requested as gifts
I know I don’t need to say it but I will anyway. We aren’t big fans of gifting or receiving things. We’d prefer to gift or be given experiences or money to contribute to essentials that we may have on our wishlist.
This is something that we wanted to reflect through our wedding as well and wrote a beautiful poem about not needing to bring presents, but if they wanted to, they could contribute money toward our honeymoon or future experiences. As we decided to pay for the wedding pretty much ourselves and spent around $12,000AUD in total, every penny helped. More on this later.
The wedding favours
For the wedding favours, we decided to have beautiful handmade one-off presents. We sourced the little pots for the succulents second hand, and the succulents were mainly replanted from my parents garden. My dad did a fantastic job with them, and each one is unique in its own way.
We also had a little glasshouse where people could put cards in. It worked nicely with the planted succulents surrounding it.
The post-wedding thank you
After the wedding, instead of sending out Thank You cards to everyone, we waited for the photos to be finished and emailed everyone thanking them and sharing a link to our website that had been redone to share all the pictures from the day. Here’s a couple of outtakes of what it looked like. We sectioned each part of the day into different menus, so it’s easier to navigate through each part of our wedding day. This process also took us about a day all up.
What we wore
We were very keen to support local small business as much as possible. My dress was from an Australian Designer called Rachel Gilbert, and it was bought off the rack. A little tip, if you decide to buy off the rack, you’ll typically save some money as they generally give discounts for the dresses that have been tried on and aren’t custom made.
Keep in mind though that some shops don’t sell off the rack, so make sure you call up and ask before you go in to have a look.
Another great way to save money is to have a look at the previous seasons dresses on their website/catalogue and see if there’s anything there you like. Sometimes it’s worth asking as they may have them at the back and will do a reasonable price for them because they don’t want them sitting in their storeroom.
One of my friends did this and got her dream dress for almost half price! Let’s face it, anything with the word wedding tends to be more expensive so don’t feel bad for asking.
My shoes were ones I have owned for a few years and matched the dress well, so I just wore those. I didn’t think I’d have much luck finding nice vegan and fair trade white or off-white shoes to match my dress. Not to mention that I’d probably never wear them again!
Michael wore black pants that he already owned, and wore a jacket he bought just a few days before the wedding (one stressful experience we would both like to forget!) and shoes were from Will’s Shoes that we bought when we were in London from The Third Estate.
We wanted to keep things pretty simple but still feel amazing on the day. All those extra things that are traditional like wearing something old and something blue wasn’t part of our day.
A small local jeweller made my ring at the coast in Mogo called Juela. This ring was my engagement and wedding ring. Not being a ring person, I wanted only one and something relatively subtle and elegant.
Michael’s ring was from RevolutionBA Shop on Etsy. He wanted something that suited him and that was a little more unique. He had thought long and hard about what he wanted and loved what he picked.
Our ceremony was simple and only took 15-20 minutes. Our celebrant knew that we wanted something laid back and fuss-free. We wrote our own wedding vows and were happy we did.
I’ve always wanted to get married in a forest because it’s what reminds me of my childhood. I love nature and think that this was the perfect spot where we could celebrate our love for each other. It’s what really made our minimalist vegan wedding amazing.
Why we hired a photographer
Photography was an essential part of our wedding day. When we got engaged, that was the first thing we booked. We knew we wanted Lauren to shoot our wedding, so we worked with her to find a date that she was available.
This is something that many people regret not investing money into for their wedding. As a photographer myself, I knew what I wanted, and I was confident in Lauren’s ability to deliver on that. Michael loved her style as well, and how easy going she was.
Tip: Make sure you allow yourself enough time to find the right photographer for your day. Meet with a few and pick the one that you and your fiancé feel most yourselves around. Being picky is imperative! In saying that, not everyone can afford a professional photographer.
Our most significant investment was our photographer, but we value this a lot more than some other things.
Our vegan wedding food
Besides photography, this was the most important thing for us. As vegans and vegans that run a blog that shares recipes and lifestyle tips on veganism, this was the testing ground for all of our guests to sample what we’re about. Mainly catering for omnivores with maybe five vegetarians and two other vegans, this was our way to show how amazing vegan food can be. And no, it’s not just rabbit food!
My sister, who’s an amazing cook, offered to tackle the enormous task of catering for the wedding and delivered beyond anyone’s expectations. She made all the canapés and most of the dinner buffet.
We decided to outsource the curries last minute as she wasn’t confident in delivering something she would be happy with. Mind you, she’s not vegan herself, so it required a bit of out of the box thinking for her. We had more than enough food for everyone, and from the feedback, some people would convert to veganism if they could eat this type of food every day!
For canapés we had:
- Vegan cheeses from Sprout & Kernel and Damona from The Cruelty-Free Shop
- Seeds, nuts and dried fruit from a local bulk buying store
- Bread from our local bakery
- Marinated veggies and crackers were ordered through my sister that has connections in the catering industry
- All the vegetables for the dips and olives were from the local farmer’s market.
I collected an extra few boxes of fresh produce a few days before the wedding from a farm 15 minutes from where we live. They grow amazing organic food.
Our photographer didn’t get a chance to get to the canapés before people started eating them so unfortunately, you have photos of half-eaten platters.
The food for the buffet was terrific. We wanted to have a buffet so people could pick and choose what they wanted to eat and how much of it. We’re both big eaters and don’t like it when we don’t get enough food and feel hungry 30 minutes later.
Feast your eyes on the food we had at the reception!
The menu consisted of:
- Plain rice
- Lentils and brown rice with nuts and seeds
- Kofta curry
- Moroccan stew
- Rainbow vegetable salad
- Steamed greens (mainly green beans, asparagus, snow peas and broccolini)
- Potato and butter bean salad
- Fermented cabbage salad
- Green salad
- Pumpkin dip
Our drinks selection
The drinks were organic, vegan wines and champagne from a beautiful vineyard that we’d love to go and visit one day. I met the lovely lady at a market a few months prior and really liked how humble and well run their business was. We also had organic beer and organic iced teas that everyone loved!
The iced teas were freshly made and were really delicious!
The two flavours we had (with ice and freshly cut lemon and limes):
- Blueberry, papaya, goji and acai
- Lemon myrtle and plum
Our venue criteria
This was probably the longest process because we were looking for a place that catered for the following things:
- A venue that was available less than six months from the wedding date
- Somewhere affordable that allowed us to do self-catering
- Have the wedding ceremony and reception at the same place
- Be surrounded by nature
We finally landed on The Crisp Galleries, and it was pretty perfect!
I’d always dreamed of having the reception outside in a beautiful garden with a nice long table that was surrounded by trees, bushes and flowers. A sunset would reveal the decorative tea lights on the tables and the fairy lights that would follow the table from above.
We decided to have it indoors because we wanted to make sure that it didn’t get too cold for guests (even though it was a really hot day) and that we could control the outcome in case it was windy etc.
The look we were going for was to bring nature indoors and to have some beautiful handmade details around. My dad made the wooden stands that we put everyone’s names on. We were lucky enough to borrow all plates, cutlery and wine glasses from a friend that bought everything for her wedding a couple of years prior because she found it more cost-effective that way.
The napkins I purchased but pretty much everything else was borrowed. The only thing we had to hire was the chairs. We kept the table setting pretty simple so that things didn’t get too crowded on the tables and people would have enough room for themselves.
The flower arrangements for the tables were done by my aunty and sisters.
The guys at the venue were happy to do some pruning and cut down some vines for us around the property. They also strung strong wire across the room to support it. We just threaded some fairy lights in between to give it a slightly romantic feel and look like stars in the sky. The greenery and fairy lights were done by my family (lead by my brother).
We had two tables, and Michael and I just sat amongst our families. We didn’t like the idea of having a separate table from everyone especially since we didn’t have a bridal party. We wanted to be amongst everyone else.
Our budget was quite low considering how much most weddings cost here in Australia. With the average wedding costing between $30-40K AUD, we had no intention of spending a house deposit or an amazing six month holiday around the world for one day.
In being super transparent, and hopefully helpful, here is a screenshot of our budget spreadsheet.
The things that are in red are the ones that we went over budget. The ones that aren’t highlighted in red were either under budget or on budget. Overall, considering that we didn’t have much of an idea of
Things we saved money on
There were a lot of things that we saved money on because we were privileged enough to have many talented people around us or we didn’t see the need to spend money on it. Here are some things we either did ourselves or didn’t invest in:
- Hair and make up (my friends did it)
- We arranged the flowers for the tables ourselves. Lady Larissa did the other flowers like my hairpiece, bouquet and Michael’s buttonhole flowers.
- Catering (my sister did it)
- Bar tab (there wasn’t an option for that anyway, we bought our own)
- Printed invites and thank you cards
- The bridal party (let’s face it, this can cost quite a bit!)
- Engagement party, hen’s night and bucks night (another massive expense!)
- Wedding ring (for me)
- DJ or live music
- Two separate venues
- Videographer (lucky we have a friend that did it as our wedding gift!)
What we would have done differently
When reflecting back on what we could’ve done differently, we probably would’ve allowed an extra month to prepare everything as we feel like it got a little crazy towards the wedding day.
We also would’ve outsourced the catering to someone else instead of relying on my sister as the poor thing was stressed out wanting to make sure she made enough food for everyone. In saying that, she did a fantastic job but wished she enjoyed the wedding a little more.
One other major thing would’ve been to have the wedding closer to Canberra where we live. The guests had to drive at least an hour to the venue and were conscious of having to drive back home after the wedding finished. There might be a few other things along the way, but they were the three main ones.
A few months leading up to the wedding we asked our community if they had any tips on how to have a minimalist vegan wedding on a budget. They shared some excellent ideas, and we loved them all, but what we did, in the end, seemed like it reflected who we are as a couple the most. Backyard weddings are a wonderful idea, but it didn’t feel like the right fit for us.
A minimalist vegan wedding to remember
What were some things you went without at your wedding and were happy you did? Was there anything that you would’ve done differently if you did it all over again?
To end this post, here are a few more photos of Michael and I. Enjoy 🙂