Amber, the Almost Vegan Chef, is sharing her vegan wedding planning with us step by step. You can catch up with her last post here.

I’m not going to lie:  this has been a scary time for my fiancé Matt and me.  And the thing is, our impending wedding is the least of our concerns.

You’ve already read about our venue troubles, and in my last post, I mentioned frequent traveling and cookbook writing interfering with our wedding planning schedule.  On top of that, we moved across town at the beginning of April.  The real kicker, though, was receiving a diagnosis that’s been three years in the making: I have Hashimoto’s disease.

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease in which your body attacks, and gradually destroys, your thyroid gland, the energy production center of your endocrine system.  This explains so many things that I’ve been dealing with for the past three years:  weight gain (despite loads of exercise and a whole-foods, plant-based diet), mood changes, decreased energy, excessive sleep, digestive distress, unstable pulse and temperature, and more—scary stuff.  My Hashimoto’s disease is accompanied by systemic inflammation, dysglycemia, nutrient absorption problems, all-over-the-map hormones, and an H. pylori bacterial infection in my stomach.  These are not things that a busy bride-to-be wants to deal with!

After the initial shock and grief, though, I had no choice but to pick myself up and move forward, with life and with wedding planning.  For anyone dealing with an unexpected life circumstance during your wedding planning process – be it an illness, loss of a loved one or job, or any other unforeseen wrinkle – here are some tips on making sure you still get the wedding you deserve.


  • Relax.  Making time for relaxation is crucial, especially if your health is the issue.  Allow yourself to veg out now and then for absolutely no reason—watch a favorite TV show, read a novel, or go for a long walk.  You could also meditate or do some gentle yoga.  If you can afford it, treat yourself to a massage at a spa (or, as I did, have a kind friend give you one).
  • Feed yourself properly.  Stress can affect everything from your immune system to your digestion, so giving your body nutrient-rich food is a must during tough times.  Luckily, if you already eat a whole-foods vegan diet, you’re ahead of the game!  If you crave comfort food, try nourishing vegetable soups or bean-rich stews.  If you’re pressed for time, go the express route with quick green smoothies or tossed-together salads.  If you feel low on energy, try adding more raw foods—it can be as simple as snacking on fresh fruits, or as “fancy” as trying your hand at a raw recipe like nutmeat tacos or kale chips (feel free to browse my site and/or cookbook if you need ideas!).
  • Make a list.  Before you freak out about all the wedding-planning tasks that still need to be done, sit down (preferably with your fiancé) and make a list of what needs to be done and when.  Websites like also have helpful checklists you can use.
  • Cut corners if necessary.  When I was diagnosed, Matt and I were suddenly faced with a glut of medical bills that we realized would have to cut into our wedding budget.  We were already planning on skipping things like flowers and bridesmaid dresses, but we’ve now decided to also cancel our honeymoon, revise our menu, and trim off other details that don’t mean as much to us.  Write a list of your absolute “must-haves,” and then take a good look at what’s left to decide what could be cut out or tweaked to fit inside your new, lower budget.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Enlist family and friends to aid you with tasks like contacting vendors, designing (or even creating) invitations and programs, shopping for décor, brainstorming reception ideas with you, and more.  If, like me, you are the type of person who is reticent to ask for help, know that many of your friends will want to participate and ease your burden.
  • Consider a wedding planner or coordinator.  If you’re truly overwhelmed, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help with the planning and/or execution of your big day.

I have a long road ahead of me in my treatment for Hashimoto’s disease, and while I’ve been warned I may not feel dramatically better by the time I get married in September, I’m keeping my hopes up and trying to focus on the positive.  If you’ve found yourself in a sticky life circumstance while wedding planning, don’t fret—you will still have the wedding you’ve always dreamed of.

Amber Shea Crawley is a linguist, chef, and author specializing in healthful vegan and raw food. Known for her flexible recipes and friendly voice, she was classically trained in the art of gourmet living cuisine at the world-renowned Matthew Kenney Academy, graduating in 2010 as a certified raw and vegan chef. In 2011, she earned her Nutrition Educator certification at the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute. Her first cookbook, Practically Raw, debuted in March 2012. Amber blogs at

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