Marlene & Pete's DIY vegan wedding in a factory

Photos by Mike Turzanski

The offbeat bride: Marlene

Her offbeat partner: Pete

Date and location of wedding: Village Gate Square, a revamped printing factory, Rochester, NY — July 2, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: This day was a team effort in every sense of the phrase. We asked our family and friends for help with planning and a ridiculous amount of heavy lifting. We drew, cut, glued, and printed all our own decorations, invites, favors, and programs. My bouquet was assembled from my mother taking many trips to flea markets and thrift stores. My mother-in-law baked plates of cookies for every single table at the reception. Our friends who own local businesses donated the majority of beverages at the reception.



The best men kept people rocking as they pulled out their air guitar and karaoke skills (both have competed in the US Air Guitar Competition).



Tell us about the ceremony: Our recessional song was a children's cover of Yusuf Islam's "If You Want to Sing Out." This was a big shout out to my preschool students, who inspire me every day.



Our biggest challenge: There was tension surrounding our decision not to have a Catholic wedding. While we both respect and appreciate the depth and complexity that comes with a person's religion, we did not feel that a church wedding would be an authentic representation of our own personal beliefs. After many conversations with our family and friends, we were able to come to an understanding and celebrate the beauty of knowing so many unique and supportive people.


On a lighter note, our entire art studio/karaoke room was flooded by our power washer the day before the wedding. Luckily, our best men had just gotten into town and cleaned the room up in a jiffy.


My favorite moment: Pete's amazing sister was our officiant, which we both found really meaningful. My father and three of my cousins performed the Beatles song "I Will" as our third reading.


It meant so much to us to have a fully vegan wedding catered by Owl House (barbecued seitan and pesto slathered-tofu!). The desserts were baked by myself and my mother-in-law. To share such a meaningful aspect of our daily lifestyle with all of our friends and family, if only for one meal, was something we will always treasure.



My advice for Offbeat Brides: Communicate with your partner, so there are as few surprises as possible. Involve your families in the planning, even if they disagree with your choices. Take risks. Inspire others. Enjoy the people who came to celebrate with you. Don't let your fear of karaoke get the better of you!



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  1. Beautiful! I particularly love the photo of what appears to be your first dance…really shows off how lovely everything is! Also, thanks for the vegan menu ideas!

    2 agree
  2. "While we both respect and appreciate the depth and complexity that comes with a person's religion, we did not feel that a church wedding would be an authentic representation of our own personal beliefs."

    +1 – both of our families are Catholic, with varying degrees of attendance, so it would feel inauthentic to promise things in a Church we no longer attend.

    I love it all, the wedding party's outfits, such great dresses & suits, the blue hair, the ROOM! & I'm not vegan, but Pesto is always a good time.


  3. I'd be interesting in hearing more about your ceremony and reading choices. I was raised Catholic, and my grandparents are still extremely involved in their church. I'm hoping to come up with a meaningful ceremony that meshes with my beliefs but also respectfully acknowledges my heritage.

    Also, your hair looks amazing!

      • Hi Marlene! I LOVE LOVE LOVE your style. My fiancé and I are getting married at Village Gate next August and are trying to save as much money as possible by DIY'ing like you guys did. Can you tell me more about what you did for music? I don't see a DJ– did the band play the whole time or did you do an ipod type set up? How did you guys get to do your own alcohol as we were under the impression we needed to use a caterer for that. All and any info is beyond appreciated. All the best!!! -Ashley

        • Hi Ashley! We had to pay for an alcohol permit. We did have a friend DJ, and they set up above the spiral staircase. They were able to set up some lights from up there too, so we had some fun strobing where people were dancing. I hope this was helpful!

          1 agrees

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