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Weddings That Give Back – Support Local Theme

Black Sheep Bride recently received this amazing engagement and wedding submission from a Chicago based photographer, Beyond the Ordinary Photography and I was so excited to learn of their story, as well as today’s featured Urban Gardening couple. :) Beyond the Ordinary Photography works with the non-profit organization I Paint My Mind (IPMM). They are an organization whose mission is to make art accessible to everyone. Just recently IPMM partnered with the folks at the Dreambox project and we photographed their amazing efforts  as they handed out dream boxes (boxes filled with craft supplies- so these child can explore expression through art) to orphans around the Chicagoland area.  It was important for this couple to incorporate their passions and their community into their wedding day planning… Not only did the groom garden many of the wedding flowers at the urban farm and non-profit that he manages, and works with at-risk youth for job training and life skill programs, they also used the fun space as the backdrop for their engagement photos. Check out their engagement, wedding, and full story below, narrated by the wonderful bride. ‘My partner and I have been together for 8 years. Last year we decided to get married! We knew from the start that we wanted all aspects of our wedding, the planning and the event, to reflect who we are and our values. We strove to create something out of a spirit of intentionality and something that had meaning to more than just us. We spent a year getting everything together and while it had its moments of challenge, it was an incredible and humbling experience, an opportunity to be able to put our money (limited as it was!) towards the people and places that we wanted to support. Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_BenCaitlin23 Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_BenCaitlin17 Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_BenCaitlin15 Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_BenCaitlin6 Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_BenCaitlin3 View More: View More: View More: Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_BenCaitlin39 Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_BenCaitlin42 View More: Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_BenCaitlin59   We wanted an event that involved our community, rather than one that simply invited people to sit down and not lift a finger. More important than the obvious practical benefit of this decision, we believe that taking an active part in creating something infuses it with that much more love and meaning for wedding guests and the couple alike. Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_AJaffe168 We found a venue that could house about 75% of our guests. Ronora Lodge is a retreat center that operates with a deep reverence for the land and a commitment to environmental responsibility. One day was not going to be enough! We wanted to offer people a beautiful place to spend time in. Folks arrived, turned their cars off, and settled in for a long weekend. We were there from Thursday to Monday and everyone stayed the length that they could. Friday lunch was tamales from an independent tamale maker in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood. Rehearsal dinner was Indian food catered by a friend who teaches cooking classes out of her home. We bought local produce from a farm down the road that my cousin used to make the side dish for the reception. My mother spent time throughout the summer making and freezing pesto from the basil my husband grew and brought her. My dad and my husband’s mom made all the desserts. Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_AJaffe232 People were amazing! We had friends setting up the straw bales for the ceremony benches bought from a local farmer, covering them with blankets gathered from many households. People were making flower bouquets and stringing up lace streamers, setting the tables and painting signs to direct people to the ceremony. Everyone stepped up and helped! My husband grew many of the wedding flowers at the urban farm and non-profit that he manages and works with at-risk youth for job training and life skill programs. The other flowers were bought from a friend who recently started her own flower business. Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_AJaffe118 My dad spent weeks making jams from the fruit he picked to fill the welcome baskets in the cabins, along with his special granola. My brother brought bulk coffee from the small roaster down the street from where he lives in Mexico City. Most of the decorations were hand-made, up-cycled lace. The tables were set with vintage lace table clothes and vintage plates and pitchers that I spent many hours treasure hunting for, at bargain prices. The cocktail glasses were mugs that we had hand-etched with the help of two dear friends, and were given as a take-home gift. We served hard cider that friends had helped us press the fall before the wedding. We had kegs from nearby breweries. Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_AJaffe196 We had musician friends playing the ceremony and entertaining on the trailer ride down there. Last, but not least, two close friends and my brother DJ’d the party until about 4am!… Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_AJaffe158 Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_BJaffe249 Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_BJaffe568 Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_BJaffe575 Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_CJaffe189 Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_BJaffe598 While it was our intention in every way, it’s hard to say we “gave back” because the wealth of love, support, and generosity that we received feels more enormous than anything. That said, based on what people have expressed, I know we did collectively create something that had meaning and gave joy to much more than just us. Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_CJaffe133 The wedding cake was the chocolate cake my mother has made for every birthday in my family for decades. We met our wonderful photographers at an art opening one of them was volunteering at and she told me about their independent business. My husband’s mom made loaves of Challah to go with the incredibly tasty local BBQ catering from Piggin’ n’ Grinnin’. I worked with an amazing tailor who is raising two kids and working independently out of her home. Flannery_Jaffe_Beyond_the_Ordinary_Photography_CJaffe229 Every vendor we worked with was helpful, flexible, and an absolute pleasure!’ Vendors: Venue: Ronora Lodge and Retreat Center | Photographer: Beyond the Ordinary Photography