Today I have the great pleasure of interviewing a colleague in the wedding industry whom I admire very much, and who is as lovely as her cakes are adorable – and that’s saying something!
Sarah from Tiny Sarah’s Cakes is a French Vegan baker in Berkshire, who followed her studies of philosophy with studies in baking and cake decorating in the enchanting streets of Paris. In her words, her cakes are “pieces of happiness”, and I can attest to this first hand! Her recipes are filled with wholesome and delicious ingredients like organic wheat flour, belgian chocolate, real vanilla beans, and organic fresh fruit, and are all vegan. Though my own diet isn’t strictly vegan, most of my favourite cookbooks are, and, having had the joy of trying her cake, I can now say that Sarah’s masterpieces are one of my new favourite things.
I thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to learn more about her and her work, and to discuss how vegan couples, or couples who want to incorporate vegan-friendly elements, can let these values be a positive and exciting part of their wedding day.
Photo by Red Door Photography
Sarah – I’ve given everyone a little overview of you and your business, but I’d love to hear more about your passions, your quirks, and your brand!
Hi Valentina! Thank you for asking me to work with you on this great article. My loves and quirks – that is a big topic! Unsurprisingly, one of my great loves in life is food. I am that person who will decide on my travel itineraries because of the restaurants and cafés I want to visit. I think I pour a lot of that into my business – for me, food is never just food. Eating is always an opportunity for a moment of happiness, which is why I take so much time developing recipes and making my products. Something that isn’t perfect just won’t do. A second passion of mine is everything artsy. I studied philosophy of arts (and specialised in philosophy of literature) and I feel like I have always been very aesthetically driven. I really struggle to relate to things if they don’t fit with my aesthetics. Which is why I can’t watch most of movies filmed in the 90s! My friends usually joke about me and my “imperatives” in taste as they call them, because I’m a little bit intense in what I love or absolutely hate! My favourite art forms obviously include cakes, but also tattoos and literature. I’m also really passionate about animals and animal liberation, which is why I’m vegan and only sell vegan cakes. I am on the board of a couple of vegan activism groups so it does play a huge part in my life.
My brand is built around the idea that, firstly, no one has to miss out on cake, but also that you don’t make happiness from suffering. My cakes are made without any animal products, but also with ingredients that are good for everyone: I buy everything in bulk to produce less waste and try to hurt the planet as little as I can, and I use as much as I can local, fair trade and organic products. I believe in creating high quality products with a wow factor without costing anyone’s life or integrity.
Photo by Red Door Photography
I know all your cakes are – but are all your couples and clients vegan?
Absolutely not! I actually have a lot of people coming to me because they like my style – which is always a huge honour – and having tasted my cakes, realise they’re just great cakes that don’t taste like plants (and why would they!). I also have a lot of people who come to me either because they have allergies or intolerances, or have guests with allergies or intolerances. And that’s where I come in – I make cakes for all dietary requirements. Also, as the number of vegans grows in the UK, so does the chance that someone attending your wedding is vegan! There is no reason preventing a non-vegan to eat vegan cake, so it absolutely works this way around.
Photo by Hana Laurie Alternative Photography
Have you worked with couple who want to have a fully vegan wedding? If so, can you tell us more about the vegan alternatives in the various elements of the wedding?
I have! Most of my vegan couples have vegan weddings. There are more and more vegan caterers available around which is awesome – I had the pleasure of eating food from Wholesome Junkies and Tegan the Vegan who are vegan caterers, and it’s made me want to get married all over again! Most venues now offer vegan menus for those that get married with a package. It’s great that it’s becoming more and more common. Food is the one thing that people think about when one mentions veganism, but it goes further than that.
Because veganism isn’t about not eating animals or animal products but about not exploiting animals, vegans don’t wear wool – which is the make of most men’s suits – nor silk – and a lot of dress makers use silk. Most companies who make bespoke suits and dresses will be happy finding and using alternatives! I’ve bought some gorgeous bamboo silk ribbons for my own cakes.
I have been told by my friend from Amanda Jane Flowers that most fake flowers aren’t vegan, due to the glue used in them that is made from animal products. Most candles aren’t either because of the beeswax used. There are beautiful vegan candles available now though, so that’s not really a difficult thing to avoid!
The tradition seems to be a bit more open over here, but in France, wedding favours are always “dragées”, these chocolate-covered almonds, and they more often than not are not vegan. I know that most people don’t really think much of favours and go for cheap and easy options, and although they obviously don’t have to be expensive (they don’t even have to be at all!), I am really sad at all the waste that goes into favours. There’s no point giving something that will get lost, or thrown away, or rot in a drawer somewhere. Food favours are a favourite of mine because it isn’t another of those things that no one will use– but most of the food favours I see everywhere are still incredibly wasteful with all their packaging. Think about opting for vegan favours, sugar cookies or homemade M&Ms, that are package free or with compostable packages!
Photo by Caroline Opacic Photography
Do you feel like more people are becoming receptive and respectful of what veganism represents, not just as a dietary choice?
Slightly mixed reply for this one! Because of the popularity of the term “vegan” as a descriptive for food, people don’t usually tend to associate it with any other aspect of animal exploitation, which means that it’s often not understood as a comprehensive moral framework. When I started my business, I was quite a new vegan and didn’t realise the problem of labelling things “vegan”. Veganism isn’t centred around what humans eat or wear, it’s about animals – which is why food and clothing that is animal friendly should be labelled as ‘plant-based’. Veganism is indeed more popular today, but sadly it is often less focused on overall animal liberation than it could be. For example, veganism for the purpose of human fitness and health – although that’s a great side effect, it isn’t really what veganism is about.
On a more positive note, I love that guests seem to be less judgmental of vegan weddings than before (which means more couples are able to happily celebrate their values in this way), which I believe is rooted in the fact that people become more accepting of attending weddings that really represent the couple. Of course, like anything that’s alternative to tradition, there’s still a little way to go – some of my couples have been pressured by family or even by venues to not have a fully vegan wedding, for example!
Photo by Paola de Paola Photography
Do you have any advice for couples who want to respect their own vegan beliefs but are worried about the reaction of their guests?
My advice is the same as for anything that you choose for your wedding that may not conform with traditions – it’s only one day. It is a very important day for you and it will be to your guests because they love you, but if they don’t like the food… well, it’s one meal! It is far more important to stick to your guns because it doesn’t just involve you, it involves other people’s lives – which is so much more than your second cousin having what they want to eat that evening. There are so many incredible vegan caterers these days! I always say to my couples: their guests will be happy for them no matter what.
Photo by Red Door Photography
Are there any websites, blog posts, or communities that you recommend couples look at if they’re interested in exploring the idea of veganism or, in particular, a vegan wedding?
Yes! There are a few blog posts out there for vegan wedding planning, like:
There are a few good communities on Facebook too – here are groups I’d recommend:
Photo by Red Door Photography
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
To liberate all animals! It’s the only thing I really want out of life.
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Here are a few more tips from us for planning your vegan wedding:
- Don’t feel like you have to “warn” your guests about your wedding food being vegan, unless you want to – it’s your choice, and you really shouldn’t feel guilty, concerned, or pressured either way. In fact, not letting guests know that food will be vegan may avoid anyone turning up with negative preconceptions of what will be served.
- When choosing your venue, do ask if there are restricted caterer options available or if you can bring in someone external of your choice.
- Before meeting with your caterers, try doing some research and writing down some menu and recipe ideas that you can suggest – choose experienced caterers and vintners, and don’t settle for meals that feel like compromises! Make sure you find someone who’s willing—and excited—to work with you to create a menu perfect for you.
- When trying on your outfits, do check the labels first so you don’t fall in love with something that may turn out to contain animal products (silk, wool, leather, etc…).
- If you can’t find a hair and make-up artist local to your venue and whose style you like who uses exclusively cruelty-free and vegan products, then do try asking if they would be happy to use products you provide. Make sure you have a trial so he/she has a chance to try them out!
- There are lots of wonderful options out there for vegan-friendly favours – but if you feel nothing quite resonates with you both, then why not direct that money towards donations to your favourite animal charity? This can also play a big role in your gift list, if you’d like – for more ideas on how to include charities in your wedding, check out last week’s blog post!
- Do speak to your florist about sourcing your blooms from local, Fairtrade flower farmers. Potted plants are a lovely alternative to cut flowers – and can be lovely keepsakes for you and your guests!
- There are a number of delicious beers, wines and champagnes that are vegan-friendly – you can check to make sure that the alcohol you serve at your wedding is vegan at Barnivore.
- Trips to animal sanctuaries or volunteering at animal-related charities make for fantastic honeymoon ideas, or even activities to incorporate in your hen or stag do.
- Finally: if veganism is your way of life, then the ethics and compassion of your decisions shouldn’t be compromised. If you’re feeling some friction from friends and family, stay positive, make them understand how important it is to you, and help them stay focused on what the celebration is truly all about.
Thank you so much to the lovely Sarah for all her thoughts, tips, and enthusiasm on the subject! We really hope you enjoyed it, and that it’s lead you to reflect on this positively for your wedding or weddings of friends or family members. For more scrumptiousness, do check out her website – and for any help with your wedding planning or styling, of course feel free to get in touch!