Fran & Siobhán's feminist, disability-friendly, colourful, vegan wedding

Buckets of confetti!
Photos by Rob Bird

The offbeat bride: Fran, a mundane office worker (and OBT member)

Her offbeat partner: Siobhán (also known as Von), youth worker and geek

Location & date of wedding: The Derby Conference Centre, a listed Art Deco building with gorgeous original 1930s interior. The ceremony was held in the lecture hall, a small theatre shaped room, then we had the celebrations in their giant sunken lounge in Derby, UK. — 31st October 2009

Our order of the day

What made our wedding offbeat: Living a non-traditional life meant our guests weren't expecting a traditional day from the start, so we had complete freedom. We're bisexual so it was important our day was a celebration of not just our love but of love generally. The top table included a sibling's wife and girlfriend from their poly life, with a toast to the fact we could even have a legal ceremony.

Walking out, overjoyed!

It was vegan yet decadently sugar filled! It was feminist too, we looked at everything, decided how it could be right for us. We had a flower woman, walked down the aisle together to show this wasn't the start of something, it was a continuation. There was no big reveal, from mingling beforehand in our full outfits to our order of the day with all the text from the day plus the plan for the evening to help guests who needed to balance medication and rests.

Ceremony
The bride's sitting during the ceremony because of health issues.

The vows reflected us with laughter from the audience, Fran promising to remember that she isn't always right and Von promising to not do things half arsed! We promised to be together wherever we go in life, definitely in sickness and maybe even someday in health.

Big hippies

The main thing was that it was laid back — we were relaxed and therefore our guests could be too. We spent the day laughing with joy, so our guests did too! It was also humble, instead of a receiving line we gave our drinks to our guests to show our appreciation for them.

A toast with awesome siblings

Literally jumping for joy!
Literally jumping for joy

Our biggest challenge: We met because of chronic health problems, so planning a wedding left us even more exhausted than normal. We planned the day around this, sitting during the ceremony, with comfy seats with arms during the meal, sofas around the dancefloor, the whole venue was disability friendly. We planned it from bed using the laptop, and even had photos taken while we lay on the ground! In the last week Fran's amazing brother and wife came to stay to do the last minute running around for us and were incredible! Staying at the venue the night before helped too, there was much less exertion on the day because everything was there already.

The sunken lounge, where the celebrations took place

Table decorations and pumpkin centrepieces

Another challenge was that a member of Fran's family we asked to be a witness said no, which really hurt. But everyone else's love and excitement more than made up for it.

We also had lots of small things go wrong on the day — the DJ was ill so his dad covered and played the wrong first dance, the food wasn't as planned, the venue forgot some other details — but none of it mattered. This was such an incredible day that it would take more than that to overshadow the joy and love between us, and everyone!

In tune

In fact the first dance is now one of our favourite moments; we heard the wrong music, looked at each other and made an eye contact decision to just go with it. It was perfect in a very different way than planned!

Confetti leaves, petals and seeds caught in Fran's hair

My favorite moment: The confetti throwing genuinely felt like being showered with people's love. In fact choosing all natural, biodegradeable petals and seedheads for confetti, then mixing it ourselves for appropriate colours (along with bubbles!) seemed like a detail that might be lost on other people, but we loved it. Now I am so glad that we did, it was wonderful to have everyone surrounding us, laughing while we twirled around in their happiness! It turns out that so many details were things that other people noticed and adored, so that energy wasn't wasted!

Our beautiful vegan wedding cake

The cake was also a highlight, we're vegan so the cake needed to be vegan, but we wanted it to taste like cake, not vegan cake! Luckily Fran's an amazing baker and so the five tiers of gooey chocolate richness were amazing. Fran put it together the night before, which was another joy. Us and lots of friends and family stayed the night before and did the setting up and decorating then to save energy on the day, it felt like a community effort! Then on the day another fantastic experience was staying up late together again. The music went off at one a.m., but a group of us sat around chatting and eating cake until three a.m. before we headed off on honeymoon! It was a moment of stillness and closeness after the frenetic day and the contrast felt beautiful.

More dancing!

Oh, and we had fairtrade candy floss which was AWESOME.

Om nom nom

My offbeat advice: Enjoy planning, it's the largest party you are likely to throw so have fun with it! We'd spend car journeys together planning it a chunk at a time — it was time that we couldn't be doing anything else with so we'd spend it with a notepad. It also meant we arrived everywhere in a good mood! I know that it's second nature to most offbeat brides, but don't get bogged down in the word "wedding," weddings are just a celebration of love, so choose to celebrate freely how you would celebrate any joyous occasion with your most loved ones — whether that's with friends, family, or both!

Popcorn

Also, express yourself, but think of your guests too. We chose a venue that our guests could afford to stay at, which meant we had them for longer. Also, we're vegan but none of our guests were, so we wanted to show how fun veganism can be. As well as making it non-intimidating for people who don't eat vegetables when planning the menu. We covered the tables in sweets (translation: candies), then had unlimited fairtrade candy floss (translation: cotton candy) through the evening and then chips (translation: fries) coming out at ten p.m. too! Everyone really seemed to embrace it, it was great to see.

Also, people let you down. Invite them anyway and treat them as if they hadn't. The moral high ground has a much better view, and it shows them what they're missing out on!

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links? We spend our life trying to be ethical consumers, so our wedding was no different. We wanted our money to go to people or organizations that we agreed with and we tried to support local or independent as much as possible.First dance, complete with bubbles

  • Siobhan's dress was made for her by Jackie Thompson, who has more patience and skill than any dress maker I've ever met, from organic cotton by Conscious Elegance.
  • Our photographer was Rob Bird, who is not only talented but also a joy to work with.
  • We were lucky enough to be able to have a videographer Steve Lawson. His work is amazing, and he made us a three minutes highlight video too which you can see here.
  • The popcorn and candy floss came from Candy Floss Crazy who were so lovely and enthusiastic.
  • Our invites were designed by Von (with the rest of the stationery) but printed by Eco Print UK, an environmentally concious company, who print with vegetable based inks.
  • We, like everyone else, found great people on Etsy, Fran's ring came from Bijoutiful, Siobhan's headress from HeadCaseByG and our guestbook made by SeaLemon
  • We bought a large packet of dried leaves for decorations from La Villa Victoria who uses the money to feed the abandoned animals that she takes in!
  • And lastly, our website is hosted by Al and Sarah, who have been so supportive of us!

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn:

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  1. OMG! me & my fiance looked at this very venue and had it on our short list! it was so unsual and different : ) the wedding looks fab girls-and so much fun! i'm so jealous of the candy floss & popcorn machines!how cool?are you local girls? its rare to see Notts/Derby weddings on here so its made my day!! : ) i hope mine makes it on here too x

    1 agrees
    • It's a lovely venue, we were thrilled to bits that we were able to have it there! When we were looking at the website we just assumed it would be really expensive, not an average conference centre price! The bedrooms are tiny, it was quite hilarious the two of us getting ready in one with friends milling around, but it worked in our favour as it kept the prices down so people could afford to stay, yay!

      We are from Derby, we looked a little further afield but really wanted to have it here. We love this not-very-exciting city, it's home!

      2 agree
      • We almost booked it but we're not having many people for most of the day so couldnt really fill it and do the beautiful art deco sunken lounge justice-truly stunning though. I'm a Notts gal and my h2b is a derby boy so we compromised on a halfway venue in long eaton : ) It hasnt got rooms for people to stay though unfortunately but we've found some cheap local hotels for the few further away guests. We love Derby!x

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  2. I saw some snaps from this wedding on the OBT – the brides looks so joyful! I love the bold colors. And yay for profiling vegan weddings! I am not vegan, but because I have to limit my dairy & don't eat poultry or meat I have come to seek out vegan recipes. YUM! Looking forward to more!

    2 agree
  3. This is such a happy wedding to look at – and your advice about the moral high ground really resonates with me. Congratulations!!

    3 agree
    • Sorry to hear that it resonates with you, but good luck dealing with it! I honestly get such a sense of joy from knowing that I am in the right, it's petty but it's fun petty, and it really helps!

      2 agree
  4. Congratulations! You two are so lovely.

    Also, can I just say, my fiance and I are both vegetarian and I am so excited about vegan week here at OBT. I can't wait to see more tasty and animal-friendly ideas.

    2 agree
  5. There should totally be a link to your video that was on OBT. I cried and cried you girls were so happy and lovely!

    1 agrees
    • Hee, thank you so much! It is linked from the vendors section if you ever want to see it again, just not embedded. I watch it a lot!

  6. SO impressed that Fran made the cake! As a fellow vegan I feel you on the worry about it tasting right – which is why I am SO excited about vegan wedding week! Maybe I'll get a tip that will lead to cake awesomeness, because this bride does not have the skillz to be baking it herself.

    Two beautiful brides with a beautiful wedding to match. Wishing you much happiness!!

    2 agree
    • Well if you know someone who has the skills to bake it themselves it was just the chocolate cupcake recipe from the ever favourite Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, with the chocolate brownie frosting from the same book. The recipe is simple, it's the baking in bulk that was the challenge! But we did it two weeks in advance and froze it, five tiers fitted in our small freezer so if you have a talented and helpful friend or family member then it may be possible!

      (ps I made a stone/14lbs of frosting! I dread to think what the cake itself weighed!)

      2 agree
      • Ooh I love that recipe! I'm not much of a baker, but that one's surprisingly easy to make (not that's I'd want to make it for 70-odd people!). For others looking for cake sellers, if there are none in your area (and it's worth asking at local bakeries, many will be happy to make vegan cake) there's a company in London called Ms Cupcake who can send some of their cakes through the post: http://www.mscupcake.co.uk

  7. awh, you two look so happy and giggly right through your day 🙂 it's so beautiful!!!

    and love for the purple crocs – i wore the exact same shoes under my bridesmaid down for my best friends wedding!

    • Yay for crocs, they're so comfy! Von bought amazing heels but realised that for the aforementioned health reasons that would be a stupid way to waste her energy on the day, so she wore them for the ceremony then changed into the crocs for the rest of the day. Gave the first dance less risk of her falling over too! Which would have been funny, but perhaps not great for the video.

  8. what a beautiful wedding!! i love that you not only celebrated your union but love in general. how wonderful!
    &the vegan wedding cake is great too! yayyyyy vegans!

    1 agrees
  9. As a fellow bi Brit lady, this wedding really struck a chord with me! Congratulations and thanks so much for sharing!

    (Also, purple and red – my two favourite colours! And the cake looks amazing).

    2 agree
  10. GORGEOUS. As the bi, vegetarian fiancee of a mostly-vegan girl with (chronic pain, probably fibromyalgia), and an assortment of differently-identifying friends who also have a range of dietary and physical needs, I love everything about this wedding (…and wish I was in the UK so I could make mine happen stat *sigh*)! You two look so happy, your friends look so happy for you — and I LOVE the idea of having comfy chairs or couches so people can rest.

    Congratulations <333

    1 agrees
    • Thank you! It's weird having to make the adjustments for health, but then lovely how they did just blend in and nobody seemed to notice on the day. Most just seemed to like the sofas, extra time to mingle and general laidback and cosiness, but those who needed them did notice and it really worked.

      I hope you can have your celebration soon too!

      2 agree
  11. Yeah! Yeah for you! Yeah for OBB for posting! Yeah for legal access!! Yeaaaahhhhh

    1 agrees
  12. I really love the idea of caring for the disabled ! Hubby's grandma is on wheelchair most of the time, so definitely we can't have cave or mountain top weddings , even if we'd really love to, because we'd like her to be there ! beautiful and congratulations !

    1 agrees
  13. You two look SO in love and so beautiful! Congrats! It looks like a stunning wedding!

  14. I saw this wedding on OBT and was hoping it would be profiled. You two look amazing and so happy together! This one definitely resonates with me since my partner and I are also both bi-women.

    • Yay for the bi-representation! I am ok with the lesbian wedding tag because it will help people find female same sex weddings but I love that it says bisexuality first :D.

      1 agrees
  15. Congrats!
    What was your vegan menu? I'm trying to come up with one for my wedding in April.

    1 agrees
    • We're planning our vegan wedding in June and are currently looking at tweaking the mediterranean menu offered at one of the venues I looked at – so it'd be hummus, vegan tzatziki, veggie plate (raw and grilled), cheese-free spanakopita, greek salad, roasted potatoes, rice, ratatouille, falafel, pita, that sort of thing. We'd considered indian food but I think my family would be very confused by dal.

      1 agrees
    • As with Lulu we found that going outside traditional UK/Western food was the easiest option to find a menu that was easily recognisable for people, but still fun! We love food and a lot of our friends do, but then there were a lot of people who don't even trust vegetables so we wanted a good balance.

      We went for mexican-ish food, so we had tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole on the tables for starters. Then we had a hot buffet which was really important to us, so that people could see the food before choosing what to put on their plates.

      It was five bean chilli, roasted vegetables, baby sweetcorn chilli-firesticks, onion rings, poblano rice, jacket potatoes and salad. So Von's family could have a plate of jacket potato, onion rings and salad but then there were still the firesticks and poblano rice with a bit of excitement for us! It worked out really well, we got a lot of complements on it actually, from all ends of the spectrum and quite a few partners of friends who had been dreading the vegan food and were pleasantly surprised.

      It took us a lot of thought and was awkward to balance but luckily our venue were really amazing about it all and really accommodating. They basically said if we gave them the menu they could cook it, which worked perfect for us! Actually all the venues we looked at said much the same, I guess the recession and eagerness for business might be encouraging them to welcome others people's visions more!

      1 agrees
  16. Red and purple is probably my all time favorite color combo!!!….and ya'll look fantastic, happy, and joy-filled together. Blessings on you both and your marriage.

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  17. cotton candy machine at the reception = best wedding EVER! 🙂 Hehehe, I love cotton candy, but seriously you ladies look beautiful (I love the red/purple color combo of the dresses) and you look so happy! Congratulations!

  18. Your video is so amazing! What is the song playing in it? I love it! Congratulations ladies!

    • Thank you, and I'm glad you liked it! It's Falling Is Like This, by Ani DiFranco, we played it while we signed the register and it was the immediate choice to sum up the day :).

  19. Yay Derby! I went to conference there and thought it was a lovely venue and the food was super, but slightly too big for our teeny tiny wedding, we would have had to drag people in off the street.
    Beautiful ladies with beautiful hearts!

  20. That is the sweetest picture of the two of you dancing. And I am seriously impressed with that beautiful cake!

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  21. You two are inspiring! I too have some chronic health issues and am looking for ways to make my wedding not as exhausting as possible. I also am going to be taking the moral high ground with many people, kind of a bummer but, I know it's the right thing to do. Also, the other person(s) will see how much they aren't affecting my life and wedding and (hopefully) realize that what they did was wrong. Even if they don't, I know that we did the right thing. Your wedding video was amazing!! The video coupled with the Ani Difranco song was so beautiful!!!

  22. I have to say, you two make one of the most gorgeous couples I've yet to see!
    You both look incredibly happy- I truly hope it stays that way for you! Best wishes to you both. ♥
    (Awesome cake, by the way. It looks delicious~)

    1 agrees
  23. This looks and seems like such a great wedding! What's most important is the happiness and that definitely comes through. I really like the part about how people will let you down. It's very true, but taking the high road will make just better in the end. And experience has shown me that there is a story behind the let down instance, one that we don't often get to discover. Either way, Congrats to you both!

  24. Hi! Congrats! What an amazing ceremony you put together!

    I hope this is not too off the topic or rude, but I'd love to know more about how you manage your relationship with your disabilities? I'm disabled (and queer) too and I'd so like to be able to have a partner at some point, but I have a hard time imaging how I would be able to handle a relationship with my constant pain management routine/measures and having to be so deliberate with how I use my very scarce energy…which of course fluctuates so is a moving target and absolutely crazy-making! Right now all my energy goes toward self-care and salvaging what's left of my career given my limits after becoming debilitated. How do you do it? How do you take care of yourselves and still support one another? Are you able to be available to one another even when you're experiencing a lot of symptoms? Do you worry about your future? Was is hard to make the decision to put your energy (which I'm assuming–and my apologies if this is baseless–is limited) into planning your wedding instead of other priorities? (I'm so happy you did, you're such an inspiration!)

    If you have any feedback it would be huge to hear (I have many people in my life who try to give me encouraging words without having the experience/understanding the reality of being disabled themselves…though of course disability varies so much…) email me: shadyladyms@gmail.com

    1 agrees
  25. Hi Fran and Siobhan, found your wedding report while looking at purple dresses 😉 but there is a lot more there that I like than just the (gorgeous) frocks!
    I was particularly interested in your wedding programme. I loved the bit I could read of your vows, and would really like to know how it went on from what's visible in the photo. Would you be willing to share the rest of your vows? It would help my partner and me with writing ours if you'd were.
    Thanks xx

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