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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) i-TnKZwpS-X4JO9C0183 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.” AN4A5632i-w3FCH6V-X4 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. i-QSBrwhB-X4AN4A5294  AN4A5199 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. AN4A5921    i-zc5S3JZ-X4  i-zfrcM4T-X4 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. |||| AN4A5229 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: 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!

National Park Wedding: Lauren & Andrew- Joshua Tree, CA

Watch out for the cacti, because from 4/15-4/23 BSB will be sharing ONLY park weddings and various park wedding round up’s, in honor of National Parks Week and today we’re heading to the desert! (Refer to the bottom of this post for ways to get involved this week) Westlund_Photography-2504 Lauren & Andrew traveled from their native New Zealand to marry in America, with the glorious vistas of Joshua Tree as their backdrop. They started their day getting ready at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, and then they road tripped to Joshua Tree National Park for their intimate and heartfelt ceremony. It was a windy, frigid day in the desert, but you can’t even tell in these photos. Maybe their love kept them warm? They celebrated with California sparkling wine and cupcakes from a local bakery. This gorgeous elopement was put together and photographed by the incredibly talented Moxie Bright Events and Westlund Photography. Westlund_Photography-3859 Westlund_Photography-6119 Westlund_Photography-6930 Westlund_Photography-8920 Westlund_Photography-10444 Westlund_Photography-19749 (1) Westlund_Photography-20451 Westlund_Photography-23331 Westlund_Photography-25539 Westlund_Photography-27612 Westlund_Photography-31430 Westlund_Photography-33155 Westlund_Photography-33705 Westlund_Photography-34439 Westlund_Photography-34803 Westlund_Photography-35148 Westlund_Photography-35344 Westlund_Photography-35723 Westlund_Photography-36212 National Park: Joshua Tree | Wedding Planning: Moxie Bright Events | Photographer: Westlund Photography  | Cupcakes: Over The Rainbow Bakery | Local Wine: J Winery | Accomodations: Ace Hotel Palm Springs | Hair & Makeup: Chelsea Nicole | Officiant: Reverend Joe ____________________________ WAYS TO GET INVOLVED DURING NATIONAL PARK WEEK! Did you know that the National Park Services has over 12 billion dollars of outstanding repairs and needs across the 2000 parks and forests they maintain? Go grab your annual NPS Pass today and help support the future of our planet for generations to come! April 15-16 and April 22-23 : Free Admission to any National Park in the United States Buy a National Park Pass (for $80). There are also FREE Passes available for active military, and students in the 4th grade, as well as discounted passes for Seniors. Learn more HERE. Find the closest park to you and volunteer or support their fund raising initiatives!