Laura & Peter's vegan, starry, planetarium wedding

February 12 |

The offbeat bride: Laura, editor/writer

Her offbeat partner: Peter, director of knowledge management

Location & date of wedding: The Walter R. Schuele Planetarium at the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center in Bay Village, Ohio. Reception at The Nicholson House in Lakewood, Ohio. — October 10, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: We were married in a planetarium, by the planetarium director, under the stars with a spotlight shining on us.

My bouquet was made from kale, we didn't have a bridal party, and our invitations were handmade from recycled paper by a nonprofit. Instead of programs, we made a PowerPoint presentation complete with photos and quizzes displayed on the "sky" before the ceremony. We also had a pre-ceremony animal show featuring an owl, falcon, and skunk. We wrote the ceremony ourselves and walked down the "aisle" together.

in the planetariumOur reception was held at an historic house, which meant guests were seated in different rooms. In the months before the wedding, I raided thrift store sales to acquire glasses, cups, knives and table decorations.

The food was entirely vegan, including ninety homemade cupcakes, and friends baked vegan pumpkin pies. Our cake toppers were ceramic Canada geese we made in a local pottery class, and our centerpieces were real pumpkins we encouraged guests to draw on.

We skipped first dances, toasts, a guestbook, and the bouquet toss. We played croquet in the backyard and our officiant even brought a telescope to the reception. All told, we supported a total of six nonprofit organizations in the course of planning our wedding and used mostly local businesses for just about everything else.

Finally, we took public transportation home after the reception. The bus was brand new and completely empty –- so it was like our own personal limo!

Vegan cake with hand-made cake toppers.

Our biggest challenge: We didn't use a regular caterer and instead cobbled together various local businesses to provide our food and drinks. This took a lot of coordination. We had to organize delivery, set up, logistics, clean up, and all sorts of details that would have been covered if we'd just gone with a traditional caterer or all-inclusive venue. When we realized we were in a bit over our heads, we hired two servers from Aladdin's to staff the reception. They'd never done an event like this before, but it worked out for everyone. Overall, planning such a DIY wedding was a lot of work, but we supported local businesses in our city, we saved a ton of money, and the vegan food turned out better than what a traditional caterer probably would have come up with.

The fact that our wedding was vegan did become a small issue, especially when someone hinted that we weren't properly accommodating our guests. But we stayed strong with the knowledge that those who truly supported us would respect our wedding and understand that serving meat would go against our beliefs. We ended up getting lots of compliments on the food and of course all the desserts!

My favorite moment: When Peter and I stood together in the planetarium hallway waiting to make our entrance for the ceremony –- we were nervous and giddy and so happy and excited to be married.

I also loved watching the stars slowly rotate in the planetarium at the beginning of the ceremony as we stood in the dark and the vocals-only version of "God Only Knows" played.

Finally, playing croquet and drinking champagne at the reception!

My advice for other offbeat brides: Seek out vendors that don't normally do weddings. Ask your favorite local restaurant to cater the food, or check to see if that little history museum or art gallery will host your event. Even if a place hasn't done a wedding before, they might be willing to work with you, and the result will be a less expensive, more personal and more unique wedding. Plus, if you go with nontraditional vendors, they won't have preconceived ideas of what a wedding "should" look like, making it easier for you to execute your offbeat ideas.

Also, if you are forgoing a DJ/band and doing the music yourself, have a plan! We made a playlist but didn't have a set person responsible for the music or give instructions on making announcements, and the flow of the party would have been benefited by this. Even if you are skipping all the traditional stuff (being announced, first dances, toasts) like we did, it might be a good idea to keep your guests informed on what's happening. Many people expect specific things to proceed in a certain order at a wedding, and when that doesn't happen, they might get confused.

Finally, take a moment to just appreciate those who helped. I am still amazed and honored by the amount of work some of our friends and family put into our wedding. We couldn't have done it without them.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?:

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!:

  1. Oh, wow! This wedding is the biggest inspiration! I've been talking about getting married at the Planetarium here in Montreal for years and oh, but this is really stunning. =)

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  2. I love the idea of being married under the stars!! Lovely and creative wedding!

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  3. Oh, my dear, the dress is so beautiful. The sashy part of it ALONE has made my day.

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  4. Oh my goodness, Laura, congratulations! You might not remember me, but I was good friends with your brother C. all throughout junior high and high school (hhs, drumline, etc.) What a beautiful, amazing wedding! Best wishes to you and your beloved.

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  5. Yay for planetarium weddings!

    I used to work at a major planetarium, and though we never hosted a wedding in the five years I was there, we had TONS of requests to facilitate dramatic proposals under the stars. Usually these were just dimming the lights and bringing the stars back up as the lucky couple lingered behind the exiting crowd for a private moment, but one I helped execute was quite silly and very public — a ton of fun, in other words.

    The gentleman who wanted to propose had grand visions of "marry me" being written in the stars, but we were old-school analog at the time, so no can do. So, we settled on an alternative, prompted by some lines I put into my usual schpiel about the zodiac and various fortune-telling mythologies. When I mentioned the lucky lady's name, she was so focused on the stars that she had no idea what was going on, and the entire audience was quite confused by the ensuing pause. Then, her gentleman speaks up, "I think you'll need to say it again," and so I did. Then he went down on one knee and proposed, but the acoustics are bad unless you're in exactly the right spot, so the audience was still very confused about what was going on. Once she started laughing and crying and it became apparent what had happened, everyone of course applauded, but it was an entertaining moment of confusion there for sure. Definitely a memorable proposal, as even *I* remember it, and I was just the one facilitating.

    So, hooray for planetariums!

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  6. Yay for Unique Vintage dresses! That one is particularly gorgeous.

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  7. Oh my I love that dress!!!! I bought the same one in the gold/mocha. Unfortunately it did not fit and I was unable to alter it, so I had to return it :( but they were great to me at unique vintage. Congrats, love the skunk!

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  8. OMG the photo of you two is the most adorable thing ever! A skunk like that wandered up shortly after my fiance proposed–we've since nicknamed it Stinky the Magic Christmas Skunk. Every relationship should have a skunk for a mascot :p Also your dress is really lovely, & actually your whole wedding is inspiring. Way to stick to your guns on the vegan reception too!

    -Caitlin

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  9. Yahoo for offbeat Ohio weddings – and for knowing that there are other OBBs nearby!!! I just had an offbeat Ohio wedding out in Lake County – it's surprising how so many local vendors are willing to work with an offbeat couple. You looked like you had a great time, and made some really beautiful choices in your planning. Congratulations and best wishes!

    Oh, and we had skunks on our wedding day too, but not the fun, furry, pick-em-up-and-pose-with-em kind. They built a nest under our front porch the week of our backyard wedding. Yeah. Good times…

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  10. Congrats from another Lakewood OffBeatBride!!!

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  11. I love the kale bouquet! I never would have though of that, but it's beautiful!

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  12. Don't for a SECOND let those comments about your vegan food bother you. It is so offensive for guests to suggest that you should compromise some of your most firmly-held ethical beliefs for THEIR preferences. And it's not like you weren't accommodating them: I'm assuming none of them are allergic to/morally offended by vegetables and grains, right? People act like you're serving them glass on a bed of tree bar or something when you serve vegan food. No. Vegan food is food made of the same stuff that you eat, except without meet, eggs, and dairy. And a good cook does it damn well. The attitude is borne from such ignorance, it's so archaic.
    I can't wait to have my own vegan wedding. Congratulations on yours.

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  13. It's very inspirational to see how much work you did to keep your values ingrained in your wedding. Weddings are about the couple getting married and not about the guests. As a vegetarian of over 10 years, I've had to accommodate for myself before attending many celebrations because I respect that these celebrations are not about me. Anyone who would think otherwise has missed the point of the celebration. I also work for a local non-profit and greatly appreciate the example you set by doing what you could to support your local businesses and non-profit organizations. Going this extra mile for such a personal event shows your selfless natures and your strong feelings for the importance of community. Bravo!

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  14. Yo! It's Professor Reynolds!!! He took us to the Planetarium for class and told us about this wedding!!! Awesome!!!

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  15. Another Lakewood OBB chiming in to say this is wonderful! I'm scouting around for venues in the area, and I started scribbling furiously as soon as I saw this. Lovely!

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  16. Thanks for all the comments, everyone. We had a fabulous time at our wedding.

    Cygnet, thanks for the compliment on the toppers. They are actually Canada geese because we love geese, but lots of people thought they were swans — including our pottery teacher at first. :) We dipped the necks in a different glaze to try to bring it out, ha.

    Hi Angie — of course I remember you. :) Thanks for the well wishes!

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  17. I just wanted to let you know how much I love your wedding! After reading your post I fell in love with the Nicholson House. I am a history major, and since we don't have the money to hold the reception at the museum, I really want a historic house…. which has proven to be very difficult to find in the area. I was just wondering if you had any more pictures of the house? Like how you set up the tables, or if you had anything you didn't like about it? Thank you. :)

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