A Vegan + DIY Wedding Festival

photography by Christina Cernik.

#WOODSTOCKLOVEFEST2016 | diy + vegan wedding festival

A few fun wedding facts:

  • I started making my wedding dress 3 weeks before our wedding  :p 
  • Camping after a wedding is a great idea... having a donut + smoothie truck the next morning was BOMB.COM! We had multiple campfires around our tents and almost all our campers stayed up till sunrise talking around the fire. Looking back this is one of my favorite memories of our wedding.
  • We wrote our own ceremony and couldn't get it together at the rehearsal. I was so nervous for the actual day but everyone was flawless! 
  • There was no wedding planner. Between my mom, my mother-in-law and myself, we coordinated the entire wedding festival. If there was one thing I would have changed about everything, this might have been it. Every thing came together perfectly, but boy was it a task! A whole city pretty much had to be built. Electric, housing, and bathrooms had to be brought in and put together on top of everything else (table setting placements, centerpieces, games, managing vendors and guests). We printed a canvas print for our guest book but it got lost, we also had a photo-booth that we forgot to set up until 2 am. Minor details that would have been awesome to have but literally were the only things that went "wrong" that whole weekend so it honestly wasn't that big of a deal, but had we had a wedding planner, they could have gotten that stuff together.
  •  I made my Grandma's dress that she wore to our wedding. The dress was based on a recreation of one of her favorite sweaters and she originally had it made for my aunts wedding a few years back!
  • Your florist can donate your flowers to a hospital or nursing home after your wedding! Keep the love flowing after the wedding and spread some cheer.
  • The whole wedding took over a week to set up and multiple trips of trucks + my packed convertible, to get everything in place, building tents, bringing all of the bedding for the tents, etc. I think I could plan a music fest after all of this experience :p
  • Everyone will ask "What does bohemian black tie mean?" but OMG they all brought their A game with attire! It was so fun to see everyone's take on the theme. 
  • 'FINAL SAY' IS THE BESTTTTT BAND EVER! Seriously. No one was sitting once the music started. I remember looking out and thinking whoa not a single person was at a table they were all up and dancing.
  • Barefoot bride = happy bride. 
  • We decided on the hair concept the day of and Brooke killed it. 
  • Our entire wedding was vegan and eco-friendly. Our invites were compostable, printed on treeless paper and non-toxic ink! Our caterer was a local caterer that focuses on sourcing from sustainable farms. Find a full list of vegan + eco-friendly wedding vendors on our Wedding planning Guide.
  • Zero waste weddings are possible. 
  • One of my best friend's dad, made my wedding ring and nick had the engagement ring made by one of our local jewelers here in Lincoln Square that sources ethical diamonds. Nick's ring was made from meteorite by a small family owned business in Minnesota I found through Etsy. 
  • One of my wedding gifts to Nick was a family crest that I created myself :) His mom put the crest onto a custom bags set she had made by a friend of hers. We pull them out any time we host a party at the house! 
  • We are pretty sure we are married legally, but we never picked up our final certificate :-o 

so, I have to admit...

I never saw myself getting married. In fact, any dreams I had ever had of weddings, were nightmares. I was the runaway bride in every dream. The grooms were faceless, I didn't understand. But the constant theme in my wedding dreams, was me at the doors of a chapel, in a white dress, feeling like I was trapped and not being authentic to myself, and they would end with me running away. Marriage was never on my dream or vision board. It was not a goal or even a part of my path I had for my future life.

I share all this, because the universe has a funny way of working plans into your life that you never  could have imagined. When I first met my now husband, almost 6 years ago, I started to learn that some of the best things in your life will happen completely unplanned, all by surprise. A lot of the times they are the things we say "never" to out of fear. And then we find ourselves completely surprised with how different the outcome is once we face those fears. 

There were a few moments early on in our relationship in which Nick made clear by his actions, that I would not lose my self and my individuality in a life long relationship with him.

It wasn't a fear of spending the rest of my life with one person that I was afraid of marriage. I thought that to succumb to such traditional roles, would strip me of my wild individual spirit. That I would have to take on the traditional role and duties of a wife. Raised in a conservative church, where women were taught and instructed by men to submit to and obey their husbands, I just couldn't swallow that pill. 

The only things I understood of weddings were white dresses, impersonal wedding ceremonies, drafty churches, a name change and an exchange between two men (father and groom) and the main exchanged... the bride. There was no spiritual connection for me. I know this is not at all how others feel about weddings. This was my own personal collection of thoughts. These started to change though after I witnessed my best friend get married and I started to see weddings in a new light.

With Nick came freedom. We both teach each other valuable lessons regularly. I had already started my spiritual journey several years before I met Nick but his spiritual outlook strengthened what I had started to discover when I went out on my own spirit quest. 

I am wind and water and Nick is earth and fire. Together we balance one another and challenge each other to grow and look at the world in new ways. Together we like to create our own path. We collect wisdom and knowledge from all of those who came before us. Soaking it all in and finding the core fundamentals of spirituality. Nick teaches me that two people can be completely different and yet grow together and remain true to themselves.

When we decided that we wanted to be each others' life partners, we decided to make a party of it. aka have a "wedding" :p We called it Woodstock Love Fest (we hosted it at my grandparents farm in woodstock, il) and we made it a festival of love. Love that we chose, love of our family, love of our friends, love of our planet. It was a ceremony of choosing love. It wasn't about us, it was about all the love we have experienced in life thus far and all the love we hoped to share in our future together. 

We created our own version of a wedding. One of the most important aspects for me was that no life would be harmed or sacrificed in order for us to celebrate love. I have been a vegan/vegetarian for 15 years now and so this was a way to incorporate "us" into a new kind of ceremony. 

Everything from the food and cake to decor... was all vegan. We also worked to make it as sustainable as possible. Re-using and recycling with diy projects for decor or table settings. It was also a major boss babe extravaganza. Almost all of our vendors were women owned businesses and local to our area. My mother-in-law is a diy QUEEEEEEEN and she knocked every idea I had out of the park and beyond! 

You can find our full list of vendors in our upcoming Vegan + Eco Wedding Guide under the lifestyle tab. 

The ceremony itself was a collection of rituals. Most of these rituals are things we practice regularly in our home. I have a hard time doing anything if my heart isn't in it and I can't find a connection to the higher source of all creation. We brought all elements of earth, air, fire, water. Rituals of cleansing with a hand washing (water) and smudging with sage and palo santo (earth), we recited our vows around our ceremony centerpiece (fire) all while being surrounded by a canopy of trees that bring us fresh breath (air). 

Drumming is very important to us and was something we couldn't be without for such a sacred ceremony. So as we all gathered around the fire, we had a drummer call us together in community and spirit. Connecting our hearts to the beat of the drum.

One of the most spiritual people I know and have looked up to my whole life, my aunt Becky, led the ceremony. Our parents and my grandparents shared with us their wisdom and advice for successful lifelong partnerships. Every aspect of the wedding was deeply connected to who we were as individuals and as a couple. The elements that bring us together and teach us to grow and become our best. We brought this aspect to our reception with our centerpieces. Twenty four words replaced table numbers. Each word reflected a quality we believe to be an ingredient to a successful marriage. Sitting at the center of every table, surrounded by those we love, we hoped that the energy shared that night would be infused in each crystal, so that we could bring them back and saturate our home.

My dad even surprised us mid dance party with an awesome pop up concert from his band. The whole night was so surreal. 

I found my groom. The groom who encourages me to be me and to follow my own path. The groom who challenges me to grow, but respects me for who I am. There was no white dress, no chapel, no name change and he honored that. He has shown me that we can write our own story. That we shouldn't do things just because that has been what has been done, but that we also shouldn't be afraid to try things that we were once afraid of.