My small, cheap vegan wedding
Getting married doesn't need to be expensive, but it can help to support local plant-based businesses. Here is my vegan wedding. By Sean O'Callaghan
There are so many reasons why I never thought I would have a wedding, let alone a vegan wedding, but if the past two years have taught me anything it is to expect the unexpected. Growing up in Australia can be a tough time for LGBT+ communities, as it has traditionally been (and even currently is) a society with its fair share of discrimination.
My home state of Queensland only got around to decriminalising homosexuality in 1991, meaning I was almost a gay adult when it was still illegal to be gay. That sort of government-sanctioned discrimination does a lot of damage to young people, and it has taken decades for me to truly understand that the right to marry the person of my choice is something of which I shouldn't be ashamed.
Here I am in 2021, and I am now proudly married to my same-sex partner - 17-year-old me in 1991 would not have believed it! With marriage discrimination out of the way in the UK too, the biggest concerns for my recent marriage celebration were lack of available funds due to the pandemic, and how to feed our party goers with vegan food.
Neither my husband nor I are religious people, so we opted for our ceremony to take place inside the Town Hall in Sheffield. It certainly wasn't free, but the associated costs were dramatically lower than if we had hired a private venue. This particular Registry Office even included the Registrar in the cost of the room!
The pandemic and our limited finances were also the biggest factors when choosing where to have a small celebration for our guests following on from the formal ceremony. As we had picked a Monday on which to get married, many pubs in the area were closed, meaning I could approach them for affordable venue hire. Vegan-friendly pub The Beer Engine has a huge open air beer garden, and they were extremely accommodating with my requests.
Approximately half of their food is vegan on a regular day, so it was effortless for them to cater our 20 guests with a completely plant-based menu. I did the cheeky thing of asking my guests to buy their own drinks, but I covered the cost of the food. I'm grateful to The Beer Engine for hosting us on their day off and I'm thrilled that our little celebration could put some money in their pockets on a day they were normally closed.
Neither my husband nor I expected a huge cake, but we did want something special to help kickstart our celebration. If you have read this column regularly you will know I enjoy supporting independent vegan businesses, so that is exactly the direction I went in for the wedding cake.
Steph's Cakes (stephsvegancakes.wixsite.com) in Sheffield is a family-run vegan bakery specialising in cakes with eye-catching icing and decorations. Even with little notice, Steph was able to whip up our cake exactly to our instructions for a reasonable price. Our rainbow and Jammie Dodgers themed sponge put a smile on every face in the place.
Of course, our special day would have been significantly different in a world without COVID, but my husband and I will never forget our intimate ceremony with some of our closest friends, or the celebration during which we got to support local vegan and veganfriendly businesses.
If you have a wedding on the horizon but are uncertain about the cost, I urge you to take a page out of our book and keep it simple and vegan. The pressure was almost non-existent, and we got to focus on the important stuff like vegan cake and love. Is there anything more important in life than sharing vegan cake with people you love?
Follow Sean's vegan adventures on Instagram @fatgayvegan