By Beth Begany
In June, wedding season heats up about as fast as the weather, as couples exchange vows in ceremonies that confirm their commitment to the beloved person next to them. People gather to witness a public affirmation of love and to honor and celebrate the lucky pair. These celebrations of love afford couples an opportunity to express their commitment to ethical living. Vegan weddings and commitment ceremonies are increasingly prevalent these days, as couples opt for gourmet plant-based fare that is in keeping with their ethical lifestyle.
While it’s possible these days to do a vegan wedding almost anywhere, some couples dream of having their special day at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY or Orland, CA, and over the years we’ve provided the compassionate backdrop for a number of ceremonies. Mike and Sherry Depsky didn’t really consider getting married anywhere else (although they admit to flirting ever so briefly with the idea of an Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas), and they tied the knot in our Watkins Glen visitors’ center in 2004. They return just about every year to celebrate their anniversary and stay in one of our B&B cabins.
When Ann Hawkes and Ferrol Johnson get married this fall, it will be hundreds of miles away from Farm Sanctuary outside Bloomington, Indiana in a lodge the couple is renting for the weekend. They will host about 40 guests. It’s really important to them that the celebration of their nuptials is cruelty-free, so they decided the best way was to provide housing and food for the entire weekend so guests would be completely taken care of. They plan to do all the cooking themselves, except for the cake.
One of the most important traditions is the wedding cake, and vegan versions are truly spectacular, as well as delicious. Vegan bakeries abound, and some specialize in creating memorable and delectable creations designed to please both the eyes and the palate. (Check out Sticky Fingers Bakery, Hippie Chick Bakery and Vegan Treats for some pictures of truly incredible vegan wedding cakes.)
Another traditional part of weddings and commitment ceremonies are gifts. Couples receive gifts, but they also give them in the form of mementos of the special day. Leslie Carmona recounts how she and husband Jason wove their veganism into their 2009 wedding: “We really wanted our wedding to reflect who we are as a couple. Animal advocacy is such an important part of our lives, so it was only natural for us to share this with our family and friends. At the reception, we gave each guest a Farm Sanctuary wine glass, along with a card describing this wonderful organization. It was a great way to support one of our favorite organizations, while giving a gift to commemorate our special day.”
And talking about support, some couples even ask for donations to Farm Sanctuary in lieu of wedding gifts. That’s what Ann and Ferrol are doing. “We’re already established, so we don’t really need anything,” Ann explains. “So instead we’re asking that if anyone wants to give a gift, they make a donation to Farm Sanctuary.”
This is the feel-good stuff that makes people cry at weddings and commitment ceremonies — there is so much love that it fills you with tears of joy. Throw veganism into the mix and you also get hope. When compassionate couples use their special day to extend their circle of kindness to include animals the impact is tremendous as they demonstrate that love does indeed conquer all.
Top photo: Sherry and Mike's wedding at Farm Sanctuary.