James and Valeria met at a house warming party of a mutual friend, they got chatting and ‘we haven’t stopped since’ James told Love of All Weddings. The couple began dating and after just two months together, James popped the question! ‘It was very unexpected and definitely a surprise,’ he explained, ‘we were lying in bed together and I asked her to marry me.’ They kept the engagement to themselves for another four months, before they then begun to tell their friends and family. They had initially been concerned that their families would feel they were moving too quickly, but ‘when you know, you know’.
Both James and Valeria decided to go vegan in February 2015 - before they even knew each other. If that doesn’t show they’re perfectly in sync with one another, then we don’t know what does! James had previously been vegetarian, but decided to transition to veganism after learning more about the egg and dairy industries; Valeria however went vegan overnight due to her compassion for the animals. ‘For the both of us the story is much the same,’ James explained, ‘as time went on we realised the huge health and environmental impacts of diet, and if asked now we would both probably say for all three reasons, but primarily for the animals.’ The couple now enjoy their veganism together, travelling and exploring to discover wonderful vegan food. ‘No meal tends to be eaten now without being photographed and shared on Instagram, in the hope it will inspire others’, they told us.
When they decided to start plan their big day, they both knew that they wanted it to be a fully vegan affair. James told Love of All Weddings, ‘our day was a celebration of our love, and our love is a vegan love! We ensured that everything was vegan, ethical and eco friendly too.’
Not ones for tradition, they stayed together the night before the wedding and then enjoyed breakfast together before they got ready for the ‘I do’s!’ Spending the morning together, and even helping each other get ready, really helped to calm their nerves. The ceremony took place at the Vestry in Tower Hamlets registry office, which was just across around from where they lived. But even though they lived so close and had been together all morning - they still managed to be late to their own wedding! ‘The hairdresser arrived later than expected and took longer than expected,’ James explained, ‘My countdowns were followed by “we should have left 5 minutes ago” whilst Val’s hair and makeup were still being finished. Eventually we rushed over together to the venue and all was well.’
The newly weds and their 15 guests then made their way to The Brook in Hackey, as they had exclusive use of the vegan restaurant. James explained that they booked their reception here ‘because the food was amazing, the staff were lovely, and it was the perfect setting for the private, intimate and simple sort of wedding we hoped for.’ On arrival guests were served a selection of canapes including some arepas con hogao, as a nod to Valeria’s Colombian roots. They also enjoyed some arrival drinks, with non alcoholic punch for the kids and non drinkers. Then came the main event - ‘we had a large selection of different dishes brought out to the three tables for people to share from, followed by dessert, another dessert and wedding cake!’
The cake itself was made by friends of the couple, Vida Bakery in Shoreditch. They created a beautiful minimalist and modern cake with one tier of chocolate brownie and another of passion fruit and lime cake. James told Love of All Weddings how they decided on their flavour choices ‘chocolate is a daily necessity for me, passion fruit and lime are tropical, Colombian flavours that we both love.’
The most special part of their day, James and Valeria said, was the effort that all of their nearest and dearest made to be there with them - even flying in from abroad to join them in London. When asked what advice they would give to couples planning their own big day, they said ‘stick to what you want! It’s your day, so have it your way.’ They also recommend that you leave plenty of time to plan and make your preparations, don’t cause yourself stress and make sure you focus on what you want as a couple.
Photo credit: James & Valeria's Photographer was Tudor Ryan