Tampa Charity Wedding Recipients Pay It Forward One Year Later- Wedding World Changer

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.

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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!

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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.”

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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.

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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 |

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Stay tuned for upcoming Wedding World Changer details and Charitable BSB Events in the near future.

 

Weddings that Give Back: Megan & Joe- Leesburg, VA

Today’s wedding is not only stunning, but most importantly, it is incredibly impactful. The couple chose to use their wedding day to serve others by donating to The Fisher House (and Young Life). Fisher Houses provide military families housing close to a loved one during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury.

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Our amazing vendor, Brandilynn Aines Photography documented their day and has a shared heart for non-profits serving the military. She uses her wedding & portrait services to donate and bring awareness to soldier suicide & mental illness. She is a surviving daughter of soldier suicide with a step-dad who suffered from PTSD & Bi-Polar Disorder. She wants to bring more awareness to others who may have no connection to the military or someone who suffers from mental illnesses. It’s a serious issue that our country is facing and there needs to be more awareness brought to help stop this tragic epidemic. As far as local and globally giving back, there are local chapters in the organization called Stop Soldier Suicide, as well as National Chapters. Giving has been a pretty positive impact on her business through getting to know more military families and teaching people about this issue.

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Photography: Brandilynn Aines Photography // Venue: Raspberry Plain // Florals : Terri David / terridlax@yahoo.com // Hair: Monica Mather / salofleurdelis@yahoo.com // Makeup:  Jordan Ward / Jordan@glambarmua.com// Videographer: Chris Hall-Tipping / p.703.303.6408 // DJ: DJ Phlipz // Cake: Niko Cakes, Laura Siko // Catering: Dianna Gilbert / dianna@rrcatering.com // Bridesmaids Dresses : After Six // Groomsman Attire:  Men’s Warehouse // Invites: Jesse Wells / jesskawells@gmail.com // Cigar Rollers: Cortex Cigars// Charities supported: Donations made to The Fisher House and Young Life

Weddings that Give Back: TLove & Jeannette, Maine

In honor of Pride Appreciation, we wanted to celebrate this incredibly compassion-driven love story with you all one more time. This incredible couple used their wedding day to serve and positively impact their family, their community and the environment around them. Thank you to our BSB Vendor, Tara Lynn Bridal, for sharing their story with us and for creating the ethical wedding attire. Molly Haley captured the day in all of it’s locally sourced, organic and intentional goodness. Upon receiving their ‘giving back story’ we were blown away by the sheer magnitude of kind thoughtfulness that went into making their socially conscious wedding a success!

See what the couple had to share below:

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‘For our wedding, we wanted to infuse as much of our personalities and our consciousness into the day as possible.  We are passionate about local farms, the local economy, and local arts as well as cooperative living communities.  Our intention was nurture our guests by practicing consciousness for the environment, our community and ourselves.’

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‘Our flowers were also organic and purchased from local Maine farms and from a friend’s personal garden. We also had both of our wedding outfits custom-made out of organic hemp and cotton from Tara Lynn Bridal (Tara Lynn is not only eco-friendly, she also donates a portion of her annual profits to a Vermont-based domestic violence non-profit and a few other causes)’.

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‘As part of our ceremony, we included a group guided kaleidoscope yoga circle with over 120 participants, our guests.’Smith_Richelson_Molly_Haley_Haley2015082900031 Smith_Richelson_Molly_Haley_Haley2015082900036Smith_Richelson_Molly_Haley_Haley2015082900033  Smith_Richelson_Molly_Haley_Haley2015082900038 Smith_Richelson_Molly_Haley_Haley2015082900039 Smith_Richelson_Molly_Haley_Haley2015082900040 Smith_Richelson_Molly_Haley_Haley2015082900042  Smith_Richelson_Molly_Haley_Haley2015082900010Smith_Richelson_Molly_Haley_Haley2015082900046 Smith_Richelson_Molly_Haley_Haley2015082900047

‘Our dinner menu was buffet-style, vegan, organic with all produce from local Maine farms and prepared and cooked by us and our friend, who is a vegan chef. We composted everything from our community meal, including our dinner wares, and donated it to Zero Food Waste.’

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‘Our take away gifts were reusable vintage purple Ball Jars with lids to be used to drink from at the wedding day and beyond. We also held a safe and sober space for the entire weekend.’

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‘To support local arts, we hired several local musicians, a local swing dance instructor to help choreograph a group dance for our wedding party, as well as visual artists (live painters) to celebrate the day’Smith_Richelson_Molly_Haley_Haley2015082900055 Smith_Richelson_Molly_Haley_Haley2015082900056 Smith_Richelson_Molly_Haley_Haley2015082900060 Smith_Richelson_Molly_Haley_Haley2015082900061 Smith_Richelson_Molly_Haley_Haley2015082900062

‘For our gift registry we accepted donations for a cross country road trip to explore and document cooperative living communities throughout the U.S.. We will be compiling this trip into a video documentary screening as a way to educate and give back to our community.’

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Photographer:  Molly Haley//Event Venue: Live Well Farm//Fashion Designer: Tara Lynn Bridal//

 

 

Engagements With Purpose: Arwa + Zohaile, Joshua Tree, CA

Editor Note: Black Sheep Bride is a platform to uplift, empower and share stories of amazing people, with selfless love, and huge impact, actively involved in changing the world around them, in a variety of ways. The following engagement session is both breathtaking, as it is, highly inspirational and thought provoking. BSB encourages you to put yourself in this couple’s ‘wedding planning shoes’ and imagine the challenges they must face, when planning a multi-cultural wedding of international proportions. The present time in which we live has become a historic season of great action, great community and great love, that is why BSB is honored to share the story of how this couple, both first-generation Americans, has chosen to use their rights, passions, skills, and personal understandings to serve the least of these. Arwa is an talented Muslim Indian immigration lawyer, as is her partner, Zohaile, an Iranian-American, their love story began in NYC, but has continued onto the other side of the country, in southern California. Read their story, from Arwa’s words below. (Photography by Laura Goldenberger Photography)

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My fiancé Zohaile and I (Arwa) met in 2011 when we were both working together at a class action administration firm. He came from Southern California to New York for law school and stayed, and I was a New York native, who had taken a slight geographical detour to Paris, France to pursue a fellowship with an NGO in women’s rights in Africa and the Middle East. I was greeted, upon my return, by a failing job market and started working at this firm, because, even though the market was hard on the private practice of law, it was even harder on those who wanted to work at underfunded non profit organizations. I continued taking cases pro bono in humanitarian immigration (asylum protection for the LGBTQ community and deferred action for our country’s young and undocumented “dreamers”) and vowed to one day make this my “real job.”

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The firm was good to me, most especially, because it brought Zohaile together. After sitting near each other in an open workspace and learning we lived in the same Astoria neighborhood, we began seeing each other outside of work. We’d spend our weekends going on road trips, adventures, and camping – falling in love with each other and nature.

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A couple of years into our relationship, we decided to move to southern California. We quit our jobs, packed up our respective cars, and drove across the country over 21 magical days, camping and exploring along the way. I had always dreamed of living in California and now I was finally here. I promised myself that I would keep my word – to only work for a cause that I’m passionate about. I put it out there in the universe (and did a lot of hard work), and suddenly things started to fall into place. I was hired as the Asylum Director of a nonprofit organization in San Diego, moved into an amazing place located 5 minutes from work, and soon after found myself engaged to the love of my life.

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After certain executive orders (were signed) at the end of January, I find my work becoming more challenging, crucial, and relevant. I begin my workdays a lot earlier and leave a lot later. I spend my weekends protesting, writing letters to my representatives, or finding ways to engage the non-legal community in advocacy or volunteer efforts, and thinking about every single one of my clients – potential or actual. After a bout of tears and hopelessness, I decided I was going to put my actions where my mouth was, that I was a voice for my clients and the people I serve – not just inside the immigration courts and offices, but everywhere their rights were being violated. The ban on travel from 7 Muslim countries hits home for me personally as well. Members of my fiancé’s family from Iran, who were planning to come to the United States especially for our wedding, are no longer allowed to enter the country. While I have been talked out of making my entire wedding playlist resistance and revolution songs, my spirit of dissent is ever present and will be on my wedding day. ||||

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Here are a few ways to help Arwa and Z continue to serve others:

Donate to Casa Cornelia Law Center

Consider volunteering as interpreters and translate for immigration law clients.
Connect with the congressional representatives in your area, you can visit: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/. Their bio will include ways to interact with them.

Photography by Laura Goldenberger Photography

Special thanks to our BSB Vendor, ‘Cause We Can Events, for sharing this story with us!

2017 Father’s Day Round-Up

Dads are pretty rad, aren’t they? Before BSB launched, I was spending my weekend’s photographing weddings and my most favorite wedding day images were always during dad moments. It’s just fun to see grown men so uncharacteristically emotional, don’t you agree? Thanks to our BSB vendors for sharing some of their favorite DAD moments with us for this Father’s Day Round Up. Here is to all the DADS out there, furry, old, young, step, adoptive, and everything in between, wishing you all a Happy Father’s Day, near and far!

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Brandilynn Aines Photography

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Kyra Rane Photography

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FairyTail Pet Care | Photo: Bumby Photography

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Family Creative Imagery

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Kyra Rane Photography

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Lauren Lindley Photography

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Kyra Rane Photography

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HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, Dads!