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Plastic-Free Wedding: Amber + Tyler- Daytona, FL

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Our uber talented and kind-hearted BSB vendor, Jennifer Juniper Photography, recently photographed a plastic-free wedding on the East coast of Florida and we are so excited to share highlights of their day with you all. The couple was passionate about going plastic-free because they have a sincere adoration for sea turtle and ocean conservation. Read what Amber had to share about her Plastic-Free Wedding below.
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‘The decision to have a plastic-free wedding was an easy one for us. My husband is a HUGE Jack Johnson fan, and we recently attended a few of his shows. Jack made his events more than just about the music and celebration, he made it about how gathering a group of people together is the perfect audience for talking about issues in our world. Part of our inspiration came from that belief, and the other half came from my EXTREME love of turtles. I used to work for a non-profit humane society in the area, so animals are a BIG part of our lives. During my time at the humane society, I took a group of camp students to a local marine science center. During my FIRST visit to the Marine Science Center, I watched a volunteer teach a group of 5-year-olds about the impact a plastic bag has on a Sea Turtle. She talked about how a Sea Turtle can’t see the difference between a plastic bag and a jellyfish and how the bags can make the turtles very sick. That was my moment. I went home that day and vowed NEVER to use plastic bags again. Since then, I’ve been able to convince my friends and family about stopping the use of single-use plastic bags and either bringing their own, using paper or just skipping the bag altogether.
From both of our ideas, we began to think of ways that we can make an impact on the audience we had in front of us on our special day. What if… we could make a small difference? So we did! We began to drum up ideas that could make this event a success. My favorite was the art we created from our beach cleanups (shown below). Jack Johnson had done something similar for his tour, so we grabbed some inspiration from this. We did regular beach cleanups leading up until the big day, and I took only a small portion of what we collected and used it for inspiration to make an art piece to display to our guests on our big day.
We also gifted our guests’ cookies in addition to our favor donation to a local marine science center. The cookies, of course, would have been wrapped in plastic. So we had to find an alternative, which wasn’t hard to find with a little research.’
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‘You may ask if having a plastic-free wedding meant we “saved” money. We didn’t really “save” money because when it came to this initiative we weren’t going to take no for an answer. We replaced A LOT. Trash bags, straws, coffee stirrers, etc. In the aspect of “saving money,” we did a lot on our own. Tyler is incredibly handy and loves to spend time in the garage wood-working. So together, we created some really cool pieces for the big day. All of the signs and decor we had were made from upcycled wood from a local shop. A local succulent artist dedicated to the conservation of the beach helped me create beautiful succulent pieces. To purchase things of this nature would have probably been more expensive, and they wouldn’t have any underlying meaning to them. We did save money when we said no to things like balloons, fake flowers, etc. It’s crazy, but during our beach cleanups, we found SO many fake rose petals cluttering the beach. Do I think this event cost more from going plastic-free? Yes. Do I think it was worth it? Yes, I didn’t spend an unheard of amount of money, a few dollars here and there to know we’re making a bigger impact.’
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Tyler and I REALLY loved making this day the way it was. We were also sponsored by the Sea Turtle Conservancy and Naked Turtle Rum company in our efforts for the sea turtles and going plastic free. Naked Turtle Rum provided our guests with custom cocktails and items for use in our recyclable bag favors, and the Sea Turtle Conservancy set up the partnership with Naked Turtle Rum and provided us resources for our guests to learn more about their efforts. In addition to favors, we adopted a Sea Turtle from the Marine Science Center.  DSC_9619 DSC_9625
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National Park Wedding: Stephanie & RJ- Banff National Park, Alberta (CA)

Grab your jackets and passports, because today we’re crossing the border and celebrating a park wedding from our northern neighbor: CANADA! This week BSB will be sharing ONLY national park weddings and various park wedding round up’s, in honor of National Parks Week (4/15-4/23)! (Refer to the bottom of this post for ways to get involved this week) IMG_0403 ‘RJ really liked the idea of our wedding  being us and somewhere beautiful in the mountains right from the start. I liked the idea, but of course kept thinking about the reality of having a wedding with out my family and we are all quite close.  I went back and forth on both ideas for a while until finally sticking with the “elopement” route. For me, whenever I would think about planning a bigger, more traditional wedding, I kept thinking about whatever everyone else would like and enjoy, then I would get overwhelmed on the details and didn’t like the idea of spending so much money on one day. Ultimately, I thought about what would be most enjoyable for just us. We are both introverted, adventurous, love to travel and don’t like attention type of people, so this is what made the most sense. The actual day was so laid back, enjoyable and involved NO stress, and most importantly was about just the two of us and starting a new life together.. and that’s what I wanted.
(Plus, it was a lot more fun planning a two week vacation for me and my soon to be hubby, rather than a big expensive dinner and party for 100+ people.. but that’s just how I’m wired).
As for the place, we wanted 1) beautiful mountains and 2) somewhere we had both never been. RJ brought up Canada, which I initially thought was strange.. I had no idea how beautiful parts of it were. But when he told me about this specific area and the national park and I did some major Google Image searching, I was completely hooked. I think our wedding pictures (photographed by Shirley Burnett Photography) easily show why we went with that gorgeous location.’
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Photography: Shirley Burnett Photography ____________________________ 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 fundraising initiatives!

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!

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