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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

Wedding World Changer Day- Mass Wedding in Dominican Republic

Before I begin I want to take a moment and offer a very special, heart-felt, THANK YOU to the 4 vendors that helped sponsor this trip: Buy the Change, Vinson Images, Jennifer Jupiter Photography, Jeannie Capellan Photography… It wouldn’t have been possible without your love and support! IMG_1514 If you have been following our Instagram at all, you may have seen that we’ve been busy (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘me': Danielle, a.k.a. The Leading BSB Lady), traveling this past week in a town about an hour away from the border of Dominican Republic and Haiti, called Bara Hona. Our good family friend, and pastor, Ricky Navarro, called me one day last month and invited me to join him (and my 17 year old nephew) to help photograph a mass wedding of 27 couples at once that he was going to officiate. It was in connection with a Miami -faith-based organization founded by an amazing, dare I say ‘Saint’ of a woman, named Christine, with a heart for the hurting Haitian Communities in the midst of the political unrest in the DR. I knew little about her story (another blog post will explain soon enough) and little about what I was getting into, but man … I have been so incredibly gifted by this experience… However It is not the average wedding feature it is worthy to be shared. There were lots and lots of people, lots of sweat and lots of laughter…. I’ve never shot a wedding with so much happiness and joy like this in my life… and then multiply that by 27 couples!!!! All of the dresses, rings, tuxes, shoes, food, everything…. were donated for these couples in need. Twice a year, once in Haiti in January and once in Dominican Republic in July, they organize these mass weddings and I am so excited to further our Black Sheep Bride involvement in the future. IMG_0036 IMG_0067 IMG_0173 Here is my nephew working hard with the camera (ssshhhh… for the first time) IMG_0239 IMG_0397 IMG_0527 IMG_0548 IMG_0589 IMG_0623 IMG_0680 IMG_0690 IMG_0713 IMG_0752 And then the best part! All of the amazingly joyful and fun kisses! The crowd started off calm and then with each kiss… It got louder and louder and crazier and crazier… It was so awesome, like one massive kissing contest! and this image also gives some reference to how hot it was inside this space as well. IMG_0804IMG_0774  IMG_0923 IMG_1007 IMG_1219 So grateful for everyone that supported this trip and for helping make it a success… It was truly an honor to represent so many connected with Black Sheep Bride.