Laura & Peter's vegan, starry, planetarium wedding

By on Feb. 12th

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!: