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Weddings That Give Back: Jay & Josefina – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Imagine for a moment you’re in a coffee shop waiting to meet with a new friend. She walks in with a huge smile on her face and the most joyful spirit, guaranteed to uplift even the darkest of rooms. We hug and proceed to the counter to order our drinks and as the barista requests her name she says ‘Fina, short for Jose-fina’ (with a bit of suave Spanish emphasis). It quickly dawns on you that you have been pronouncing her name wrong, in your head, this whole time and you apologize and inquire further about her background. She says, ‘I’m Dominican’ and then the most serendipitously, fate ordained magic happens, we become the closest of close friends in matter of a ten minute introduction! It turns out Josefina was not only from Dominican Republic, but also served as a translator/missionary for one of the organizations that I’ve worked closely with, over the past few years. On top of her heart to connect others with the needs and opportunities of her native country, she is incredibly talented and owns Love Offering, a custom hand lettering business. She also teaches her rad skills and utilized her hand lettering classes to empower others to uplift their community with their words.
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I am so honored to call this woman my friend and equally inspired by her amazing marriage to Jay. This couple not only shares their love with others in HUGE ways, but you can see how much they are loved by their friends and family in the images below. They are a great example of fostering a community of loving kindness!  I recently asked her if she would like to share about her wedding on Black Sheep Bride, and the following is her heartfelt responses to one of the best days of her life.
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BSB: What made you choose to return to the DR for your wedding? Josefina: Dominican Republic holds a very special place in my heart. I am a first generation citizen. Both of my parents were born in the Dominican Republic. My mom has received her citizenship, but, my dad is an immigrant. Though I was born in New York, I was raised in the DR until I was about seven years old. During the time we moved back to America we would go back every summer, to be with our family. I returned to the Dominican Republic when I was twenty years old. During that time I wasn’t “just visiting family;” I was getting to know my country in a very different way. I was serving my people in an organization called SCORE. I translated for groups that would come on Mission Trips, and was highly involved in the orphanages and a Women’s Trafficking Outreach called Lily’s House {BSB has featured our trip to the Lily House in the past}. As I learned about the history, and saw the need in my country, the passion grew so much bigger. When Jay and I had to choose our destination I didn’t think twice about the Dominican. My dad was there, my family was there, and huge piece of my heart was in meeting him there.
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BSB: What do you guys do to give back, as a couple ?
Josefina: Well, Jay is a youth pastor at Centerpoint Church, in Tampa, FL. As a couple we dedicate our time to the next generation. We live to serve our students, and to encourage the college students. Our heart beat is for the broken. In fact, that was one of the things that attracted us to each other. The love for the hopeless, helpless, and unity. Love Offering was created with Love, after the passing of my great grandmother, I started to pursue lettering with intention and purpose. I started teaching workshops back in 2016, and for every class we have a community project in which we practice what we have learned and create greeting cards to encourage our locals; whether it be the Tampa Police Department or Children’s Home.
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(Josefina face timing with her Dad, who was bed-ridden for the wedding)
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BSB: What organizations are you currently supporting ?
Josefina: We are currently connected with a local Non-Profit, Non-Denominational Christian Organization committed to the restoration of vulnerable women involved in the sex industry.10407435_10204629220278605_4473142892524083035_n 10945772_10204021777572917_8525402804205546026_n  10959566_10204021785333111_6409105632869506759_n    12002759_10205449986797255_591555612471017059_n  11954577_10205449989357319_2180660087104630072_n1520674_10204366630234018_8805823595756455189_n
Photography : Bird On A Wire Photography | Venue/Accomodations/ Catering/ Florals/ HMUA: Dreams Punta Cana  | HandLettering: Love Offering

Weddings that Give Back: Natasha and Alexander- St. Elizabeth, Jamaica

Today’s Weddings That Give Back feature is one for the nostalgic destination wedding record books. Full of Jamaican voluntourism, supporting local farms, businesses and artisans, sustainable intentionality, this couple truly embraced their wedding day as an opportunity to serve those that have inspired their lives greatest! 91600002 Alex’s mother grew up in Jamaica, and Natasha’s family traveled to Jamaica frequently and she even studied abroad there. After their summer living in the parish of St. Elizabeth on the South Coast together, and working at BRED’s Treasure Beach nonprofit foundation, this place in Jamaica was forever sacred in their hearts. dscn2661_27937538083_o - Photo Credit- Betsy Basset E9ram91610004 The couple and their family and friends stayed at Jakes Hotel, Spa and Villas throughout the week leading up to their wedding. The hotel is known for its funding of the BRED’s Treasure Beach Foundation (where Natasha previously worked), and its focus is  devoted to improving the community. In lieu of gifts, the couple asked for donations to BRED’s. Volunteering was also a major facet of the wedding. Family and friends spent some time painting schools and coaching sports to the children of the Treasure Beach community, as part of the BRED’s foundation. They had a full week itinerary with optional activities for guests (a trip to YS falls, a boat trip to Pelican Bar, lunch at a local jerk hut, bike tours, etc.) Photo Jul 01, 1 15 02 PM Photo Jul 01, 1 34 20 PM IMG_2992 - Photo Credit- Betsy Basset IMG_2996 - Photo Credit- Betsy BassetIMG_5163-189 They also had gift baskets for all the wedding guests, with goodies curated and sourced by local business owners and artisans. Photo Jun 28, 9 48 57 AM Photo Jun 28, 9 49 24 AM Alex went on an epic beach walk with his friends to find the branches that they built into the hoopah. They made the big wooden piece that has their initials carved into it with seashells they found on the beach-this was a total surprise! (It’s now hanging in their Brooklyn bedroom.) All the jewelry Natasha wore and gave to the women in the wedding was made by Veronique, a local artist making amazing pieces from natural elements she finds in Treasure Beach. DSC_4042 - Photo Credit- Betsy Basset DSC_4115 - Photo Credit- Betsy Basset   DSCN3181 DSCN3194      IMG_4630-82 - Photo Credit- Daniel Sharp IMG_4644-96 IMG_4646-98   88670006 - Photo Credit- Daniel Holzman 88680012 dscn2856_28553174375_o - Photo Credit- Betsy BassetIMG_3872-48 88700001 All the kids in the wedding went to the local boutique store Callaloo, where they all picked outfits to wear for the wedding. The table cloths were also made from West African fabric the couple found in NYC, their friend sewed it together, and they brought it all the way to Jamaica. IMG_4736-188 - Photo Credit- Daniel Sharp IMG_4895-347 IMG_4337-161IMG_4920-372 Venue | Food | Florals: Jake’s Hotel, Spa and Villas  | Videographer : JussBuss TV | Jewelry : Veronique | Kid’s Clothing: Callaloo | Photography : Crowd sourced

Central Florida Wedding Vendors Provide Free Wedding to Deserving Couple: Daytona, FL

Today’s wedding feature is a very special one, not only because of the personal impact it has had on my personal community (Central Florida), but also the amazing energy and kindness that went into gifting this special couple with a well deserved big day! One of BSB vendors, Jennifer Juniper Photo, founded a non profit organization based out of Daytona Beach FL, called FLOWER (FLorida Organization of Wedding and Event Representatives).
FLOWER is a group of Daytona/New Smyrna based wedding and event professionals joined together to use their unique skillsets to better serve their local community. One of the ways they choose to give back this year was to find a deserving couple and provide a dream wedding for them, completely FREE!!!  They interviewed numerous couples, and finally landed on Heather & Paige. They are absolutely adorable, and FLOWER was honored to be able to make their dreams come true.
The organization ultimately chose this couple based on their story, the love that they share, and how easy they were to work with. Little did they know that Heather and Paige would become the ‘poster couple’ for what happened at Pulse Nightclub, in Orlando. We have since seen their iconic image of their heart around the Pulse sign in many news articles regarding the shooting at the nightclub, and various follow up articles, from Huffington post, to WESH. Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of the Pulse victims, but we also wish to share this silver lining. Heather and Paige were married on Sunday, January 15th, in an iconic Florida beach ceremony, along with a dream reception immediately following.
FILE PHOTO --  Heather Raleigh (L) and Paige Metelka make a heart shape as they pose during a photo shoot outside Pulse nightclub following the mass shooting last week in Orlando, Florida, U.S., June 21, 2016.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo
Heather Raleigh (L) and Paige Metelka make a heart shape as they pose during a photo shoot outside Pulse nightclub following the mass shooting last week in Orlando, Florida, U.S., June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo
This couple also serves their community in quite a big way! Heather volunteers with the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps, as well as the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando. They also do a lot of work with Disney VoluntEARS: “Our mission is to develop opportunities for Disneyland Resort cast members and their families to contribute personal time, expertise and effort to make a positive impact on our community while furthering the ideals of The Walt Disney Company.” All of their centerpieces were also donated to an assisted living community in Deland, after their reception.
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Participating Vendors: Jennifer Juniper Photography  |  Classic Photography   |  Ceremonies by the Sea  | Delectable Delights  | Carefree Catering  | The Residence Inn Oceanfront by Marriot  | Lisa Pinto at the Daytona International Speedway | Pink Flamingo at Petals

Cape Cod Inspired Wedding Shoot

Did you know that there is this new thing going around called “The Socially Conscious Wedding Movement”… You didn’t? We didn’t either up until about a year ago when we decided to create it! Can not, can not, can not believe the last 11 months have flown by so quickly and how incredibly positive the national and global wedding community has received this concept of connecting newly engaged couples with vendors and products that allow their weddings to give back! What an amazing thing to watch unfold! It could not have happened without the vision and support of our Black Sheep Bride vendors! When Lydia Leclair Photography reached out to us with this idea for a Beach Side/Save the Ocean Intimately-Inspired Shoot … we were giddy with excitement- ‘Seaaaaa’ for yourself!
Lydia shared a little bit behind the vision of the shoot:
‘Having studied environmental science and wildlife conservation in school, I wanted to raise awareness for some beautiful yet misunderstood creatures. Also, now living on Cape Cod I am surrounded by the dark and mysterious ocean and think often of what lies below. The colors for this stylized shoot were inspired by sharks: silver, gray, white, and blue.’
Ways to help right now – where you are! Sign this Humane Society International pledge!
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The beautiful beach-ready gown was courtesy of Celia Grace. Each Celia Grace wedding dress is exquisitely handcrafted using vintage-inspired lace, exclusive hand woven silks, and stunning beading and detail work. Celia Grace wedding dresses are made in safe, fair, and empowering Fair Trade conditions and we give back locally with each dress sold. Our eco silks respect and protect the environment, as well.
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‘The sweet ocean inspired necklace was courtesy of Flawed Perfection Jewelry is a handmade jewelry business based in San Diego, CA (and available via their online storefront). Not only are their designs made in America, with American made metals & ethical beads, but they also give back a portion of every sale to Freedom House New Mexico. This is a program focused on helping women recover from human trafficking and sexual exploitation.’
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So blown away by the mood of the sea and the elements from this day and how well the bride’s gown went with it. And just take a look at this awesome cake!
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The gorgeous watercolor invitation suite, with fun shark envelope insert, was courtesy of Citrus-Press Co.. They use recycled paper for their paper good offerings and give back to local and national charities via graphic design assistance.
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Black Sheep Bride vendors:
Photography: Lydia Leclair Photography  | Dress: Celia Grace | Necklace: Flawed Perfection | Stationary: Citrus Press Co.
Local vendors:

Weddings that Give Back- Sandra & Aaron

Florida based photographer, Leah Dorr Photography recently submitted an awesome ONE themed beach wedding that was THE PERFECT EXAMPLE of Giving Back- Goodness! Leah shares a little about the couple and the wedding day details:  ‘Sandra volunteers for the campaign ONE, which advocates for the world’s poorest. She is very involved in the campaign and her wedding details showed how giving back is important to both the bride and groom. While planning her wedding, Sandra asked all of the bridesmaids and groomsmen to wear TOMS shoes on the big day as part of her ‘give back wedding’. Sandra rocked a pair of TOMS wedges herself! TOMS is a one for one company, which means for every pair of shoes you purchase, TOMS will give one to a person in need. The groom, bridesmaids and groomsmen all wore shirts and dresses made by one of ONE’s favorite partners, Global Mamas. The company’s goal is to change the lives of women in Africa through selling handmade products of the highest quality. Each bridesmaid got to chose which style dress she wanted to wear! The shirts and dresses were beautifully made and definitely added a unique alternative to traditional bridesmaid dresses and groom/groomsmen suits. The bride and bridesmaids also wore the ONE Beaded Bracelet from Relate, a South African Not-For-Profit social enterprise that creates social investment opportunities to change lives. Sandra also has a love for all things Peter Pan, so there was a Neverland theme at the reception, and boy was it beautiful! The cake was probably my favorite detail! When it was cut into, fairy dust came out…fairy dust! The big hit of the reception was when Sandra sang a song (a twist on Jason Mraz’s ‘I’m Yours’) to their wedding guests spilling the beans that she and Aaron were already hitched! The guests cheered and loved her unique way of sharing the news!’
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