Last Minute Mother’s Day Gifts (That Give Back Instead)

Is your Mom like mine?

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For many years, Mother’s Day was a real challenge for me to prepare for, my mother could care less about brunch, rose bushes, or jewelry. Her love language happens to be quality time, and so is mine… I also love to receive words of affirmation, but that is neither here, nor there (you can email me your kind affirmations at anytime). It wasn’t until I had children, that this dilemma was resolved, due to my own selfish desires. Three years ago, my husband asked me what I wanted to do for Mother’s Day and after much pondering I suggested we go tubing down Rainbow River, a sacred place, for local Floridians, in the spring and summer. I pitched the idea to my Mom and that has been our Mother’s Day tradition ever since.

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No fancy gifts, no overcrowded restaurants, no need to get dolled up. We take a short road trip north, lock our phones in the cars (hence no photos), tie some tubes together, and float in crystal clear water for half the day. This is my idea of fun, where I can JUST BE in the sunshine and refreshing spring-fed waters, with no responsibilities, while my boys hop in and out of the tubes, periodically snorkeling and exploring with their daddy, like untamed baby river otters.

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However we don’t share traditional gifts these days, we still value giving back to others on Hallmark Holidays!

 

Here is a list of 5 amazing organizations and projects you could give to, in honor of your mom!

 

Preemptive Love Coalition – Donate $25 and help refugee moms in Syria and Iraq, by donating in your mom’s honor and receive this sweet digital download to deliver the news.

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Heartful.ly Mother’s Day Campaign – Donate $20 to provide a week of healthy meals to one woman residing at N Street Village, in Washington D.C..

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Every Mother Counts: Donate $25 and provide the basic supplies and treatment needed for a new mother in Uganda to give a safe and healthy birth. #OrangeRose

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Promise Love Foundation: PLF is in place to assist families in need with fundraising the cost of adoption and providing resources to the community about the fostering and adoption process. #NationalFosterCareMonth

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ApParent Project: Host a Mother/Daughter Cereal Box Drive! One cereal box can produce over 50 paper beads and provide over 11 jobs in Haiti!

ApParent Project is a social enterprise non-profit that offers opportunities for the Haitians be able to provide for themselves and their families, empowering them to rise up out of poverty… to be able to keep their families together… to avoid relinquishing their children to orphanages, through upcycled jewelry, home decor, etc.

 

Hope you all have a lovely Mother’s Day! 

10 Ways to Waste Less on Your Wedding Day!

According to Green Bride Guide the average wedding produces roughly 400-600 lbs of waste, per event. Between left over food, flowers, decor, etc there is a lot of waste that comes along with that Pinterest Perfect Wedding Board most couples desire!

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So let’s talk about 10 ways your Big Day can WASTE LESS !

1. Food :

One of the biggest wastes that can be avoided on a wedding day is FOOD! Buffets, cake, prime rib, untouched cocktail hour veggie platters, the possibilities are endless and sadly I have seen it all land in the trash! With hunger at an all time high, it seems so silly to take perfectly good food and throw it away, when there are organizations everywhere across the world taking waste food.

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Photo by Gray Kammera Photography

When I was in LA, last year, I had the opportunity to tour the L.A. Kitchen and learn how they are using unwanted waste food to make amazing dishes for assisted living communities and also employing aged-out foster kids and the previously incarcerated members of society to learn a trade in culinary arts! These places exist all around the country, find a food bank in your area via Feeding America or a food rescue center via The Food Rescue Database.

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Image via Feeding America

Disclaimer: It is common for caterers or food service providers to push back because of the substantial liability for such food donations. Thankfully any good-faith food donations are free from such liability due to the latest federal government law 42 U.S.C. 12672, the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.

 

2. Flowers:

Imagine the scene… The Bride and Groom are on their way off to their honeymoon and the clean up team is hard at work. As they put away the chairs and dishes they notice one thing they are unsure of what to do with…. Thousands of dollars worth of left over flowers! ‘What should we do with them, we can’ t take them back on the plane’ and the perplexed helper regretfully places piles of fresh roses and hydrangeas in the trash bin!

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Photo by Gray Kammera Photography

PLEASE FRIENDS! There are so many organizations out there ready to take your leftover flowers and uplift and inspire those in hospitals, nursing homes, or rehabilitation centers. Do the research, call ahead and let them know you want to donate these blooms to their cause. They will even give you a tax-write off for your love offering!

Random Acts of Flowers, Petals with Purpose, Floranthrophy, Repeat Roses are just to name a few of the organizations ready to take your blooms.

Video via Random Acts of Flowers

 

3. Gift Registries: 

Back in the day, couples would leave their parents homes and have to make a home from nothing and hence the wedding guests would bring them all the welcome home goodies their newlywed hearts would need. Nowadays the statistics show that couples are getting married later and later in life. They want to have their careers in place and independence aligned before nuptials are even thought of so most of those engaged love birds already have a lot of crap! So let us do our wedding guests a favor and skip the gifts! OR consider a gift registry that doesn’t involve wrapping paper and plastic wrap.

Here are a few charitable/sustainable wedding registries that can help your wedding impact others:

Heartful.ly– A gift registry that empowers couples to fund life changing projects around the world.

So Kind Registry – A registry and wishlist service that encourages the giving of homemade gifts, charitable donations, secondhand
goods, experiences, time, day-of-event help, and more

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If you do still need goodies consider a few fair-trade online options:

Bambeco– Recyclable, sustainable home goods that give back.

West Elm– Support fair trade and often local artisans in each store, West Elm is the perfect one stop shop for any soon-to-be newlywed’s love nest needs!

ZOLA – You can combine all of the things/brands you might need for your new home under one roof and then ship all the goods at once and reduce your waste/carbon footprint. You can also fund a honeymoon, portion of the wedding costs, or donate to charity as well.

 

4. Transportation:

Carpool, Uber, Bicycle, Smart Car, Moped, or charter a boat taxi to take your bridal party to the reception! The eco-friendly options are endless!

 

5. Favors:

Having been to my fair share of weddings I’ve seen a variety of cheaply made wedding favors that no one will ever use again and it breaks my heart. Try sponsoring a child, or redirecting your favor budget toward the charity you plan to support, such as these sweet doggie cookies that support a local dog shelter.

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Photo By Alissa Dineen

 

6. Paper Goods/Invites: 

Paper goods can be one of the most obvious waste makers, but it is equally one of of the easiest parts of the wedding that can lead to positive change. There are so many options like:

Recyclable/Sustainable Paper Types, design shown below by Citrus Press Co. / Photo by Regina As The Photographer

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Or if you are a bit more new school, try an e-vite, or video wedding invite, etc and save some trees and postage along the way!

 

7. Function vs. Fancy

Fancy is fun, we get it! There is a certain level of exclusivity and experience that comes along with black tie affairs, however they aren’t always the most functions and sometime the more wasteful events can be those that are the highest end people with the abilities and budgets to make more sustainable choices. This is where functionality comes into play… The best things in life are simple, functional and intentional… Here are a few examples:

Glass Jars to take home vs. Champaigne Flutes

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Photo by Image Clairity

Decomposable Bamboo Utensils vs. Polished Silver

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Photo by Emily Dykema

Ceremony Programs that double as Pop Corn Bag Holders (or any other reception treat you might choose)

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Photo by Emily Dykema

8. RENT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

Renting is far more waste-preventing, and minimally impactful to the environment than flat out buying things you’ll never use or wear again. Literally there are rental options for practically every aspect of your wedding day process,  your dress, your tuxes, the bridesmaid’s dresses, your decorations, you name it and it can most likely be rented!

Here are few rental companies to consider:

Menguin – Tuxedos

Borrowing Magnolia– Wedding Dresses

Rent the Run Way– Elopement, wedding attire, rehearsal dinner garb.

Happily Ever Borrowed– Rentable Bridal Accessories, Veils, jewelry, etc.

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The biggest misconception about DIY Weddings is they will be better on the pocketbook, but after the time is spent buying the materials and flea market finds to put the projects together, you are in better use of your time, dollars and energy to rent the things you are trying to faux-antique and you will save yourself space after you’re married.

Not only will it save you money, it will be reused multiple times by others and treated just like new!

9. Reuse/ Reduce/Recycle

This is obvious friends. If you have reusable goods, save them aside, donate them to your local non-profits, half way houses, etc. Reduce and Recycle what you can! Set out separate bins for recyclable trash vs. regular trash vs. compost… When given the opportunity people will make the right choices.

 

10. Composting is your friend! 

At the end of the day, if you aren’t able to find a non-profit locally that will take your flowers, or food…. COMPOST your biodegradable waste, so the earth can benefit from your waste in a productive and positive manner, like using it in a co-op garden vs. ‘wasting’ good soil nutrients in a land fill. COMPOST NOW has pick up services across the nation ready to grab your garbage and turn into garden goodness!

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BONUS!

11. Buy with Purpose!

Even if you have the budget dollars in the world, or would rather buy new, do so with integrity and value businesses that put the environment and humanity first! A few examples of sustainably-minded wedding brands are Rebecca Schoneveld Bridal, MiaDonna Eco Diamonds!

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Photo: Rachel Gomez Photography 

 

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Now Happy Waste Less Wedding Planning to You and Have an Intention and Impactful Earth Day! Let us make every day about helping making the world a better place!

6 Steps for Planning Your National Park Wedding

It comes of no surprise that some of our most popular, shared weddings, to date, are outdoor, natural settings. It’s just feels good to be outdoors, embracing all of the lovely landscapes surrounding us, so why not get married in a National Park, State Park or Beach! Here are some tips to help you plan an ‘Al Naturale’ wedding :

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Photo credit: Tegyn Friedman Photography

1. ‘…So here’s my number… CALL ME MAYBE!’

I feel pretty confident that I may or may not have just ruined your day with that earworm (that is a song that gets stuck in your head), but I wanted to get my point across loudly! This step is most important! If you are looking to have a wedding on public property, national park, beach, etc… MAKE SURE YOU CALL! However it may seem like there is enough space for the whole world to get married at that location, most limit the amount of weddings held per day and have strict guidelines for doing so. SN: When I got married 11 years ago there were 5 other brides within a mile walking distance from my beachside ceremony, it is a small price to pay for sharing paradise… errr public places…  with others!

Contact the National Park Services or State Park Directory for a park weddings.

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Photo Credit: APaige Photography | Dress: Celia Grace 

2. Paper Trail :

You must receive a permit to have a wedding at any of the public places you’ve been dreaming about- NO EXCEPTIONS! For national parks, you can request one hereAPA_6380

Photo Credit: APaige Photography | Dress: Celia Grace

3. The Smaller, The Better: 

When considering a park wedding, go small on the guest list. The more intimate the better, because of the impact of a larger scale event could have on the environment. Most vendors wouldn’t be able to disturb the grounds, ex. no stakes, digging, etc,  and work off of little to no power driven machinery for the event, so the more intimate the less to worry about. Just enjoy the view, enjoy each other, explore the space and then have dinner at a local farm to table restaurant/venue down the road.

NOTE: What you bring in you must take out! So sort your recyclables, waste and compostables and plan with minimalism in mind.

4. Make it an Adventure!

Utilize your wedding as an opportunity to fully explore the parks offerings. Most National Parks/State Parks have camping/lodges on site, renting a canoe/kayak, etc.

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Photo credit: Tegyn Friedman Photography

5. Always be prepared for Plan B:

When planning a park wedding it is always in your best interest to prepare for all appropriate forms of weather. Bring umbrellas, coats, etc. and have a back up plan, in case you are rained/snowed in.

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Photo Credit: APaige Photography / Dress: Celia Grace

6. Give Back :

Overall, park based ceremonies are a more budget friendly alternative. After a fun day, full of love, and natural beauty, consider using the money you saved and donating a portion back to that park’s preservation efforts for the generations to come. BONUS: Tax write-off.

Visit the National Park Services or your state’s tourism site for more information.

 

6 Ways to Celebrate Earth Hour

Today is the day, the day we turn our lights off, to shine light on our planet! At 8:30pm (your local time) join the world in dedicating one hour without electricity and bringing awareness to climate change! Each year, millions come together to make Earth Hour happen. Coordinated by World Wildlife Fund and other volunteer organisations, together we’re shining a light on the need for action on climate change.

Around the globe, millions of people, businesses, and landmarks set aside an hour to host events, switch off their lights, and make noise for climate change action and the 300 billion + individuals that live without electricity every day.

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Here are few ways to have fun with Earth Hour, today and throughout the year!

1. Invest in Solar Powered Jars (Consol Solar Jar) and go on a hike (or just hang out outside, around the soft magically moody solar light source)!

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2. Create a romantic dinner by candle light.

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3. Camp out at the beach and share spooky stories around solar jars, or by the fire!

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4. Grab a couple pillows and blankets and spend the evening star gazing!

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5. Find a couple kids, or kids-at-heart, and organize an epic battle of Flash Light Tag!

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6. Take it back to the old school days and start a glow stick dance party!

Here is some inspiration we found on Youtube, via Moke Jacobs.

For more ways to get involved visit Earth Hour to take action and shine a light on our planet!

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All images sourced from Unsplash or Consol Solar Jars.