We met online, on okcupid, in the summer of 2009. After we exchanged some photos via email (my profile on the site was photo-less, as I was rather skittish about the idea of online dating!), Matt emailed me saying “This is going to sound really weird…but I have a picture of us. Together.” Turns out, we’d “met” at the Halloween party of mutual friends ten months earlier…though only for about five seconds, just long enough for him to snap a quick picture with me (he was dressed as a raver, I was costumed as a nun). He emailed me that photo of us to prove it, and my jaw dropped…I was so weirded out, I almost decided not to write him back! Luckily, I did, and we met in person (for the second time, technically!) a couple weeks later. The rest is history.
Editor’s note: Amber and Matt also shared their proposal story with us. Click here to read about their romantic engagement.
Where did you have the wedding & what was the ceremony like:
Our ceremony and reception were both held on the penthouse floor of a historic building in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. We wrote our entire ceremony from scratch, including quotes by Steven Pinker, Vladimir Nabokov, and Trent Reznor. We read poems by Pablo Neruda (“Sonnet XVII”) and e.e. cummings (“somewhere i have never travelled”). For our unity ceremony, we made (and took a bite of) a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! We had a friend officiate, since we had secretly already “done the deed” legally at the courthouse a couple weeks prior. For those interested, I transcribed our entire ceremony on my site here.
What parts of your wedding were veganized:
Pretty much everything that could be. I wore a custom-designed eco-friendly hemp-silk corset dress with black lace sleeves and skirt panels. We had no bridesmaids, groomsmen, or flowers (my bouquet was made of kale). The photography was all digital. And of course, the food, drink, and cake were all vegan!
Tells us every little detail about the food:
Since I’m a chef, I co-created the dinner menu and the cakes with our caterer and cake baker, which was a wonderful opportunity. For dinner, we had an entirely gluten-free vegan buffet. It was unbelievable: • Fresh fruit cups & kebabs with vanilla-mint syrup • Hummus with olive oil & Arabic spice • Raw Caesar salad with avocado dressing & Brazilnut parmesan • Tuscan spaghetti with pesto, white beans, & broccoli • Thai-style stir-fry with noodles & mixed vegetables • Indian chickpea curry with roasted cauliflower • Choice of brown rice or quinoa • Roasted baby potatoes with garlic & sea salt (I blogged all the details of the dishes, with photos, on my site, here. For dessert, we had two types of gluten-free vegan cupcakes. Get ready for this: chocolate cupcakes with raspberry jam filling and mocha buttercream frosting, and vanilla-chocolate chip cupcakes with peanut butter filling and cookie dough buttercream frosting. YES! (More on those cakes, with photos, at my site here.) We also had vegan wine provided by The Vegan Vine, and gave raw vegan superfood chocolate truffles by Live On Chocolate to our guests as favors. We are STILL hearing from our guests – almost none of whom were vegan – how it was the best wedding food/cake they’ve ever had. Even though we planned for plenty, there were NO leftovers at the end of the night!
What was, hands down, the best part of the entire event:
I have to pick just one? I loved our elegantly gothy vibe and bat theme (I wore a bat necklace, my friend Emily made us a pair of beautiful his-and-hers framed bat prints, and bats decorated our invitations and RSVP card, seating chart, venue walls, and more). Black and white were our colors; the reception hall was decked out in black tablecloths and black candelabras with melty white candles on every table (and each table name was the name of a Nine Inch Nails song: Sin, Please, Only, et al.), and even our rings are black. I loved that we hand-picked every single song played that night, and we didn’t hold back from playing exactly what we wanted (a mix of rock, metal, goth, industrial, electronic, ’80s, and more). For instance, we played Nine Inch Nails, Type O Negative, and H.I.M. songs to highlight strategic moments of the ceremony (entrance and exit) and reception (entrance, first dance, cake cutting, etc.). When we exchanged rings, Matt said “You’re the queen and I’m the king,” and I replied with “Nothing else means anything.” (It’s a lyric from the NIN song “We’re In This Together.” Yes, clearly we are unabashed Trent Reznor devotees, and we’re not ashamed of it!) During the cake cutting, we surprised everyone by whipping out a meat/coconut cleaver and using it to cut the cake, and after making the cut, I licked the cleaver clean! There were just so many great moments, I don’t know how to choose.
As I mentioned, our wedding theme was bats, and we had all kinds of little batty touches and decorations. When we arrived at the wedding venue that afternoon, we brought with us the big stack of construction-paper bats we’d cut out by hand earlier that week for taping up all over the walls of the ceremony/reception room, plus our bat-decorated seating chart, etc. We met a representative of the venue there to give her our décor, and when she saw all our bat-themed items, she burst out laughing. ”You’re not going to believe this,” she said, “but yesterday when we arrived to get the 6th floor cleaned up for your event, we discovered that a bat had somehow gotten into the building sometime this week and set up shop on your floor! We spent most of the afternoon trying to shoo it out! We’ve never had a bat get in like that before – I’d never even SEEN a real bat before – and that bat just happened to sneak in the day before your wedding!” We couldn’t believe it! It’s almost like the little bat knew he was a sort of ‘guest of honor’ at our wedding and wanted to be in attendance, hehe. It was such a cool coincidence that gave us all a laugh and a smile.
What was the most challenging thing that happened – during prep of or day of the wedding:
Some family members were upset at our decision to have a child-free event and our choice to have such a secular and nontraditional wedding; much of my family chose not to attend. I had to resolve to accept the situation for what it was and make a choice to enjoy the day no matter what — and I did.
Was your family supportive of your vegan nuptials:
Some were, while other questioned it. We stuck to our guns, though, and everyone knows I’m a pretty stubborn person, so the questioning never got too far.
Do you have any advice to share with those who are currently planning their wedding:
You can’t please everyone, and you MUST let go of the details sometimes and look at the bigger picture. I’m the type of person that gets obsessed with minutiae, and planning a wedding challenged me to not get hung up on the little things. All the details of our wedding can be found on my site: Chef Amber Shea. I wanted to blog about all aspects of the wedding in order to help out future brides planning nontraditional or vegan weddings. I know the internet is the first, and often primary, place we turn for that, so I shared each individual piece of our wedding on my site.
Vendor shout outs:
Though none of my vendors were vegan themselves, they were all great about understanding and accommodating our wishes. Special shout-outs to my eco-friendly dressmaker Janay Andrews, caterer extraordinaire Natasha Bailey, and allergen-free cupcake baker Jennifer Ward! Venue: Club 1000, Dressmaker: Janay Andrews of Janay A Handmade, Caterer: Natasha Bailey of Eatable Swank, Cake Baker: Jennifer Ward of Be Free Bakers, Photographer: Stephen Melvin, Videographer: Justin Bond of Cinematic Occasions (*see our wedding mini-movie HERE) Rings: Naturaleza (his) and Art Masters (hers) Bat necklace: FableAndFury.
How long have you two been vegan:
I’ve been 99% vegan for about 5 years, and Matt has been for about 2 years.