*Editor Note: With Hurricane Harvey currently causing major devastation to the East Coast of Texas and the surrounding areas, we wanted to take a moment and send our Texas friends our love and prayers for safe keeping. This is a very serious situation and there is still so much work to be done. As rescue and relief teams are making their way into the hardest hit areas, we are hopeful that everyone gets the immediate help and relocation to drier ground they require. With that said, we wanted to remember one of our most beloved love stories from one of last year’s natural disaster to give a glimmer of hope, in the midst of hard times, for our Texas vendors and wedding couples impacted by this nasty storm.
It’s been almost a year since Hurricane Matthew ravaged its way through the Caribbean and coastlines of Florida, GA, and the Carolinas. This storm brought so much devastation, loss of life, property damage, demolished communities and ruined quite a few wedding plans, but one of our BSB vendors, Finny Hill Photography, used the unexpected natural landscape to bring beauty to the beastly circumstances. We reached out to Finny Hill to see if their couple would like to take a moment to tell us 5 reasons they were grateful for the way their unplanned BIG Day turned out, their responses couldn’t have melted our hearts bigger. Thank you to Stephanie and Joshua for sharing your gracious hearts with all of us.
Five reasons we are grateful to have gotten married during Hurricane Matthew (in no particular order)
1. Appreciation for Community
When things fall apart, you have a choice; you can let them stay in a heap on the floor or you can pick them back up and keep trying. Through Hurricane Matthew trying to crash our wedding, we were able to see our community (people we don’t even know personally), dear friends, family, and insanely amazing photographers/vendors, rally together to make our wedding happen- no matter the circumstances. Talk about feeling loved.
2. Unity Through The Unexpected
Josh and I rarely shy away from a challenge; we are always eager to learn lessons and strengthen our bond. This was an opportunity for us to unite together and truly see what our relationship was made of. We stayed grounded and held each other up through the many hardships are thrown our way.
3. Actively Choosing Happiness
We were able to confirm a belief we share, that we have the ability to choose happiness no matter the situation, which is exactly what we did. Even after our vendors, friends, and family cancelled on us, we kept choosing happiness.
4. Unique Story
No one will have a story like ours. Beginning our day by clearing our ceremony sight of fallen trees and debris, frantic phone calls to push the reception to Sunday, getting married without power (in what ended up being perfect weather) with only immediate family and our closest friends, partying by candlelight and dancing to the sounds played on a Bluetooth speaker. These moments are where the memories are made.
5. Back To The (Original) Basics
From the beginning, Josh and I secretly always wanted a small wedding to celebrate our love with the people we loved most. Because of the hurricane, our ceremony was the intimate gathering we had originally envisioned.
They say that rain on your wedding day is good luck. If that’s true then a hurricane must mean the whole universe believes in our marriage just as much as we do.
This past Earth Day our amazing BSB vendor, Kera Photography, captured the wedding day of one SUPER GREEN couple. Angela and Kyle came together at an amazing non-profit venue, St. Petersburg Woman’s Club, to celebrate their love for each other, their community, and their environment. They intentionally choose not to purchase any new decorations for their wedding and up-cycled and thrifted the entire wedding day vision. They also used biodegradable plates and utensils and collaborated with the caterer to incorporate as many seasonal and locally sourced foods as possible. BONUS POINTS: their cake was completely vegan, and they worked with a local brewery to make the wedding day brews on tap vs. serving non-local canned/bottled brands!
Not only is wasting less and going green a large part of their lifestyles, they also serve the community in huge ways. Kyle is on the board of a non-profit called Creative Clay, they provide resources and supplies to make art available for adults with disabilities. Angela also volunteers for several organizations supporting the St. Petersburg, FL area. Take a peek at this sweet day, you can almost smell the potting soil from here.
Photography: Kera Photography | Planner: Special Moments Event Planning | Venue: St. Petersburg Woman’s Club | Hair and Makeup: Studio KG and Loft 19 | Catering: Chives Innovative Catering | DJ, Photobooth, Lighting: Nature Coast Entertainment | Bouquets: The Bride’s Bouquet | Linens: Connie Duglin Speciality Linen
Let’s pretend for a moment…
You are getting married. You have all the FEELS. Every single detail planned out with locally-sourced intentionality and you can’t wait to see all the things you’ve orchestrated finally come to life. There is one thing though you haven’t had much of anything to do with and that is… your honeymoon. Your fiance has kept the honeymoon under wraps and for good dang reason…. It’s the first sacredly-magical adventure you get to take as a newly married couple and it is his “right of husband-ly passage” to make it epic. At least, that was the case for today’s featured couple, Tori & Seth!
Seth (creator/designer of Bolt Farm Treehouse) spent countless months salvaging barn wood, antique windows and hardware to build, by hand, the best wedding gift his bride could ask for…. a honeymoon treehouse. So after they shared their conflict-free, eco friendly, wedding rings and said their vows in front of their closest loved ones, after they ate their farm to table catered meal, and collected up their upcylced, thrift store sourced, wedding day decor, they took a stroll, on the same property where the wedding was held, to find the treehouse patiently waiting for their sweet newlywed arrival.
In addition to giving regularly to their church, they are also actively involved and partner with One Worth Health and have gone on several medical mission trips with them to Nicaragua and Uganda.
Today is the one year anniversary of our first Wedding World Changer FREE WEDDING! The Wedding World Changer premise was simple, couples were nominated and shared how they are actively involved in their community. Gary is a firefighter in Palm Harbor (Tampa, FL) with a tender heart for serving others and his community, and Astrid was working towards her degree in Pediatric Occupational Therapy at the time, while also volunteering on Sundays with her local children’s ministry. They were planning for a wedding in a few years, however, Astrid’s mother’s recent battle with cancer had them seeking ways to plan their wedding sooner. Out of all the applications available the Tampa Vendor Team voted and their story touched our hearts most. Click HERE to see the full gallery from their wedding day.
There was one major stipulation to winning the Wedding World Changer wedding. The winning couple would pledge to donate 100 service hours back into the community, within the first year of marriage. Astrid and Gary have spent the last twelve months serving others to make good on our 100 volunteer hours promise and we are thrilled to update you on their newlywed giving adventure!
I love what Astrid shared with BSB about the journey through giving in their first year:
“We wanted to take some time to THANK YOU for the amazing experience that you have provided to us! It has been a year since Gary & I were gifted with our dream wedding, but we believe that paying the goodness forward has been an even bigger blessing for our marriage. We began our community service journey a little later than we wanted to due to our “busy” schedules. We thought the best thing to do would be to sit down and make a “plan” on what we believed would work best to complete our hours. Well, we were in for a reality check because life had plans of its own… many stressors were presented throughout the months that made it difficult for Gary & I to spend time together. It took us a couple of months to realize that life was not going to stop so that we could fulfill our promise to you.
Come January, we decided we needed to just dive in and see where the journey would lead us. The moment we started volunteering changed our hearts forever. It was during this time that we both were able to forget about all of the worries in the world and focus on helping others. We no longer had excuses as to why we were too “busy”, but instead looked for moments to make a difference in someone else’s life. It brought us closer, as a couple, and in a way forced us to make time for each other. It then turned into something we were both passionate about and enjoyed doing together. Overall, the experience has helped build the foundation of our marriage and taught us how rewarding and humbling it feels to give back to those in need. We feel that giving back is now something that is instilled in our hearts and we will continue to follow this journey wherever God may lead us.”
Astrid and Gary have touched the lives of so many in our community, thanks to this awesome 100-hour challenge! They have volunteered with Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (in honor of her Mom), collected Christmas gifts for families in need with the Palm Harbor Fire Rescue, dedicated hours of hard, dirty, work at the West Pasco Habitat for Humanity Kinship Urban Farm, fed hundreds of downtown neighbors with Thorn Homeless Ministries, served at their local Goodwill, walked for ALS research, and volunteered with several other smaller fundraising events for local charities.
Check out the The Portos highlight video from their wedding below.
Huge thanks to Jeanine Leigh Photography and Green Pearl Photography for photographing all of the sweet details from this special BIG DAY… and a HUGE THANK YOU to all of the participating vendors, sponsors, and donors that helped make our first Wedding World Changer event:
Planning: Oh Hello Events | Ceremony Design: Bourbon and Blush Events | Reception Design: Amber Veatch Designs | Floral Design : Andrea Layne Floral Design | Photography: Jeanine Leigh Photography and Green Pearl Photography | Venue: CL Space Ybor | Hair + Makeup: Michele Renee | Paper Goods: Citrus-Press Co. | Catering: Tastes of Tampa Bay | Cocktail Hour Catering: Chalk Board Special | Linens: Kate Ryan Linens | Cake : Trudy Melissa Cakes | DJ: Graingertainment | Bartending : Mix It Up FL | Ceremony Altar/Rentals: Wish Vintage Rental | Pipe and Drape: Coast To Coast Event Rentals | Smaller Wooden Signage: Aerie Lane | Rectangular Farm Tables, Chargers: Set Event Rentals | Media Partners: Creative Loafing and Marry Me Tampa Bay | Succulents: The Succulent Source | Lavender: Tin Can Event Company | Chairs, Square Tables, Dinnerware, Flatware, Glasses: A Chair Affair | Videography: The Portos | Bridesmaids Dresses: Two Birds Bridesmaid | Wedding Dress: The Bride Tampa | Tuxes: All Brides 2 Be Tampa | Hotel Accommodations: Hilton Garden Inn Ybor |
Stay tuned for upcoming Wedding World Changer details and Charitable BSB Events in the near future.