Instagram is an amazing tool isn’t it? If it wasn’t for our Instagram we never would have connected with one of newest Black Sheep Bride vendors, Buy The Change. Newly engaged co-founder, Shanan, shares a little bit about her planning process and how she is using her wedding day to impact others for good!
Photography credit: Preston & Kimberly Schipper
‘Well, where should I begin? I’ll start with a little about who we are. Adam is a musician and a builder, and I work at Ford Motor Company from nine to five and I run my socially-conscious B Corp, called Buy The Change, from five to nine…basically any time I’m not at Ford is subject to Buy The Change! We are both very low-key, down-to-earth people and we’ve been described as being compassionate to a fault. Like all couples, we wanted our wedding to be a reflection of who we are and we wanted our guests to feel the love.
Having a business that imports ethically sourced products handmade by women around the world was a major influence on our planning and decision-making process. In January of 2014, my business partner and I had traveled to India, Thailand, and Cambodia to visit producers. Seeing first-hand the huge impact that even one small order can have in the lives of our artisan partners, Adam and I knew we needed our wedding to have a positive impact on the world around us and we needed to honor our value of the environment and of human rights. We didn’t want a celebration of our love to create pain and suffering in the world…we considered that to be terribly ironic.
As a Fair Trade/environmental enthusiast on a budget I found it very hard to do everything Fair Trade and I had to let myself off the hook a bit. I had to remind myself that ANY choice I made to incorporate our ethics into our wedding planning was a positive thing, and certainly better than doing nothing at all. For example I could not find Fair Trade dresses for my bridesmaids, but I could choose Fair Trade accessories and gifts for them. I picked a few heavy-hitters that would make an impact and give back.’
‘We bought my engagement ring and wedding ring from The Arcadian, a very cool antique store in Ann Arbor, Michigan with a great fine jewelry selection. I am traditional and wanted to wear a ring, but we did not want to contribute to the “blood diamond” culture that is rampant with exploitation, war, and suffering throughout the supply chain. Gold mining is ravaging the Amazon and contributing to mercury poisoning in rural communities in Peru. Buying a used or vintage ring does not contribute to current day exploitation of people or the environment. My ring was crafted 95 years ago and still looks beautiful…best of all I can wear it proudly and with a clean conscience.
Continuing on that trend, I chose to buy my dress used, as well. Buying “used” anything is the ultimate ethical and eco-friendly choice in my opinion. I found a wonderful nonprofit wedding dress shop called “The Brides Project”. They are a nonprofit organization that raises funds for the Cancer Support Community (CSC) of Greater Ann Arbor through the sale of donated bridal gowns (and bridal accessories, flower girl dresses, etc…). They have a pretty large selection of gowns and their inventory is constantly changing. Not only did I find a dress that I loved on my second visit there, it was a fraction of the price of buying “new”, and the money went to support CSC. We all have loved ones who have been affected by cancer and this was one awesome way I could give back and show some support to them. I have no doubt the story behind my dress will help me feel even happier on our big day.
The ceremony and reception are taking place at my fiancé Adam’s family property. They have 35 acres of gorgeous fields and trees. We sourced our tent and table rentals from a local small business and chose a local barbeque restaurant, Red Rock BBQ, to do our catering. Again, we are down-to-earth and easy going people and we wanted that to be reflected in our wedding; hence, the BBQ dinner!’
‘Possibly my favorite detail about our wedding décor will be the recycled sari cloth napkins. I commissioned our Buy The Change artisan partners in Bawali, India to craft cloth napkins out of recycled sari material (a sari is the dress that Indian women wear). Saris tend to have bright colors and beautiful, feminine patterns. A sari that gets a small tear or gets too worn to wear as a dress gets recycled, and the usable/good part of the fabric gets reused to make things like baby blankets, purses, yoga mat bags, and cloth napkins. I loved the fact that my “sisters” in India could be a part of my wedding day, and the sari prints will make our table colorful and festive!
Other decorations were easy, and where we couldn’t borrow from friends we bought from Goodwill and thrift shops. One great thing about this is that you can donate items back after the wedding! Glass vases are not in short supply, by any means, and you can pick up functional pieces for about one dollar each (or not much more). I thought about the last ten weddings I attended and tried hard to remember the flower arrangements and vases…I could remember only one! Point being, there are some details that just aren’t worth stressing over and its completely dependent on individual taste, preference, and priority.’
‘Even traditional, conventional couples can do small things to give back. If you create a wedding website through The Knot and list your registries there, The Knot will make a donation for every gift bought through your wedding website. You get to pick from their list of charities. We chose Heifer International to benefit from our wedding registry.’
Thank you so much Shanan for sharing your #Engagementwithpurpose with us!