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Weddings That Give Back: Tammy & Nathan- Pittsburgh, PA

Who said good things can’t happen on Friday, The Thirteenth?  Today’s featured wedding couple went out of their way to show kindness and intentional love with every aspect of their wedding day planning! The couple opted for a charity registry, instead of ‘more stuff’, and choose to support a local Pekingese Rescue where they adopted their dogs from. They also had a dollar dance and the money collected was donated to a rabbit rescue. They hired a farm to table caterer with a 90% vegetarian dinner and skipped unnecessary decorations. The only vendor the couple hired outside of the venue’s vendor guide was our very own BSB Vendor, Sandrachile, specifically because she is an ethical and charitable business owner. Let this story of collective generosity take root in our hearts and breathe life into actionable kindness today! 0001-DSC_0001-jackie 0001-SCP 0135-SCP_3776-Tammy0014-SCP_3660-Tammy 0020-SCP_3666-Tammy  0096-SCP_3742-Tammy 0254-SCP_3889-Tammy 0547-AAA_9957-Tammy 0580-AAA_9979-Tammy 0635-SCP_4199-Tammy 0673-SCP_4234-Tammy 0744-SCP_4305-Tammy 0763-SCP_4324-Tammy 0794-SCP_4355-Tammy   0882-SCP_4443-Tammy 0905-SCP_4466-Tammy  1126-SCP_4679-Tammy 1199-SCP_4752-Tammy 1251-SCP_4796-Tammy 1309-SCP_4854-Tammy 1410-AAA_0028-Tammy 1416-SCP_4939-Tammy 1421-SCP_4944-Tammy 1509-IMG_0075-Tammy 2190-IMG_0494-Tammy_1 2264-IMG_0532-Tammy 2352-SCP_5278-Tammy At the end of the night, once all the fun was had, Sandra (the photographer) went out of her way to deliver all of the wedding leftovers to the local homeless neighbors surrounding the area. This is the example we want to set, am I right? Sandrachile2 sandrachile Participating Vendors:  Photographer (BSB Vendor): Sandrachile | Venue: The Morning Glory Inn | Dress: Glitter and Grit, Designed by Antonio Gual | Shoes: BHLDN  | Groom’s wear: Todd Snyder  | Florals: The Farmer’s Daughter Flowers | Caterer:  Fish Hawk Acres | Cake: Gluten Free Goat Bakery  | Musician: John Parrendo | Wedding favors: Burdick Chocolate | Makeup artist: Hillary Shields | Hairstylist: Tara Mueller | Wedding Band: Samantha Skelton

5 Reasons This Couple was Grateful for their Disaster Wedding

*Editor Note:  With Hurricane Harvey currently causing major devastation to the East Coast of Texas and the surrounding areas, we wanted to take a moment and send our Texas friends our love and prayers for safe keeping. This is a very serious situation and there is still so much work to be done. As rescue and relief teams are making their way into the hardest hit areas, we are hopeful that everyone gets the immediate help and relocation to drier ground they require. With that said, we wanted to remember one of our most beloved love stories from one of last year’s natural disaster to give a glimmer of hope, in the midst of hard times, for our Texas vendors and wedding couples impacted by this nasty storm.  ____________ It’s been almost a year since Hurricane Matthew ravaged its way through the Caribbean and coastlines of Florida, GA, and the Carolinas. This storm brought so much devastation, loss of life, property damage, demolished communities and ruined quite a few wedding plans, but one of our BSB vendors, Finny Hill Photography, used the unexpected natural landscape to bring beauty to the beastly circumstances. We reached out to Finny Hill to see if their couple would like to take a moment to tell us 5 reasons they were grateful for the way their unplanned BIG Day turned out, their responses couldn’t have melted our hearts bigger. Thank you to Stephanie and Joshua for sharing your gracious hearts with all of us. finny-hill-photography_travel-photographers_stephjosh-wedding_017 Five reasons we are grateful to have gotten married during Hurricane Matthew (in no particular order)

1. Appreciation for Community

When things fall apart, you have a choice; you can let them stay in a heap on the floor or you can pick them back up and keep trying. Through Hurricane Matthew trying to crash our wedding, we were able to see our community (people we don’t even know personally), dear friends, family, and insanely amazing photographers/vendors, rally together to make our wedding happen- no matter the circumstances. Talk about feeling loved. finny-hill-photography_travel-photographers_stephjosh-wedding_009

2. Unity Through The Unexpected

Josh and I rarely shy away from a challenge; we are always eager to learn lessons and strengthen our bond. This was an opportunity for us to unite together and truly see what our relationship was made of. We stayed grounded and held each other up through the many hardships are thrown our way. finny-hill-photography_travel-photographers_stephjosh-wedding_003 finny-hill-photography_travel-photographers_stephjosh-wedding_015

3. Actively Choosing Happiness

We were able to confirm a belief we share, that we have the ability to choose happiness no matter the situation, which is exactly what we did. Even after our vendors, friends, and family cancelled on us, we kept choosing happiness. finny-hill-photography_travel-photographers_stephjosh-wedding_011

4. Unique Story

No one will have a story like ours. Beginning our day by clearing our ceremony sight of fallen trees and debris, frantic phone calls to push the reception to Sunday, getting married without power (in what ended up being perfect weather) with only immediate family and our closest friends, partying by candlelight and dancing to the sounds played on a Bluetooth speaker. These moments are where the memories are made. finny-hill-photography_travel-photographers_stephjosh-wedding_016

5. Back To The (Original) Basics

From the beginning, Josh and I secretly always wanted a small wedding to celebrate our love with the people we loved most. Because of the hurricane, our ceremony was the intimate gathering we had originally envisioned.

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Final Thought

They say that rain on your wedding day is good luck. If that’s true then a hurricane must mean the whole universe believes in our marriage just as much as we do.

Fair Trade Weddings that Give Back: Abigail + Keith- Covington, KY

Wedding planning can be the most magical, and equally most financially burdening, time of your life, especially if the engaged couple is the one paying. After much research, thought, and consideration, Abigail and Keith decided to get off Pinterest and Instagram, and started thinking outside the box. Abigail owns an amazing ethical marketplace, called Seven Seeds, and we wanted to honor their sustainable wedding story, on no better day than World Fair Trade Day! Below Abigail took the time to share with BSB, how she managed to pull off her socially conscious wedding, while on a budget. davidson-details-18 THE DILEMMA OF A SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS WEDDING   Throwing a 100% socially conscious wedding is quite the challenge. I knew that I wanted to do things as ethically as possible, and here again, we had to prioritize. Not everything about our wedding was done completely consciously when it came to sourcing everything we needed. At times, we sacrificed sustainability for budget. But we did what we could, and that’s what living a conscious lifestyle is all about: taking baby steps, doing what you can until you can do more.   THE DRESS More and more brides are stepping outside the box and choosing a less traditional wedding dress. I took my sister to try on dresses in my city’s bridal district, but something didn’t seem right. I didn’t feel beautiful in any of them, and even cheap wedding dresses are expensive. What was the point in spending thousands of dollars on a dress that I didn’t love and was made in a sweatshop anyway?! davidson-details-19 TOP: Style Saint ($88) The top of my dress I ordered from Style Saint. Style Saint’s clothing is all 100% sweatshop free. When you purchase an item from them, you receive a piece of paper that tells you how many hours of fair wage labor it took to make that item, how many gallons of water were saved throughout the production process, and how many yards of sustainable fabric were used. davidson-details-21 SKIRT: Made with love by my mom! I’m lucky enough to have a master seamstress as a mother. We spent months going back and forth to the fabric store and her house, looking for the right patterns and fabrics that would go perfectly with my top, creating a dress that was fancy enough to get married in, but reflected my personality more than a traditional gown. I’m so glad to have worn something that was made by hand just for me! davidson-getting-ready-49 MOH DRESS: my mom, again. Since we decided to have a smaller ceremony, I didn’t have a full bridal party. Instead, my sister and my husband’s best friend we the only ones who stood beside us as our Matron of Honor and Best Man. After again doing some shopping around and not being able to find anything we liked, my mom made my sister’s dress as well! This was so fun because we were able to make it compliment my dress perfectly. davidson-getting-ready-36 THE TUX: Instead of a tux, Keith wore a plain black suit he already had!   THE RINGS: ENGAGEMENT RING: Purchasing a diamond that was mined ethically was very important to me. The diamond industry is wrought with injustices like human trafficking and child labor, and diamonds and other precious stones and metals are often used to fuel civil wars and other types of violence in certain parts of the world. I knew that if I’m going to wear this ring for the rest of my life, I didn’t want to look at it every day wondering if this stone which is meant to symbolize selfless love and commitment was dug out by a seven year old being forced to do back-breaking labor for thirteen hours a day. davidson-details-04 Many of the “conflict-free” rings you’ll find in traditional jewelry stores are still far from ethically-sourced. In order to qualify as “conflict-free,” the stone must not be used to “finance rebel movements against recognized governments.” However, this leaves out a huge number of diamonds that are contaminated by violence, child labor, unfair working conditions, and environmental harm. In other words, it’s very possible for a diamond to qualify as “conflict-free,” yet was still obtained through extremely unjust measures.   So, my ring was purchased from Brilliant Earth. Brilliant Earth goes “beyond conflict-free” by ensuring that each of their carefully selected suppliers adhere to strict labor and environmental standards. They use only recycled metals and each ring comes with a “birth certificate” which shows you exactly where your stone came from. The team at Brilliant Earth is also passionate about advocating for awareness and education about the corruption and injustice in the jewelry industry and gives back 5% of its profits to communities harmed by the industry.   MY BAND: I wanted a super simple and delicate band to match my ring. I originally ordered a matching band from Brilliant Earth, but returned it because I didn’t like the shape. I decided instead to go with a local artisan jewelry maker, a friend of a friend. Old Hills Design Company created a perfectly dainty rose gold band for a really affordable price. Vanessa, owner and Chief Ring Maker, is super nice, flexible, quick, and cares about using eco-friendly metals and other materials in her jewelry. I highly recommend her! davidson-bride-groom-35 HIS BAND: My husband got his ring for like $15 off of ebay and I have no idea where it came from. Hey, you can’t win them all, right?! davidson-details-05 THE FLOWERS I am craaaazy about how my flowers turned out! Here again, we took the DIY route in order to save money. I’m lucky enough to have an artist as a best friend, who has dabbled in floral design for fun (although she could make a career out of it if she wanted). I essentially gave Jackie the reigns when it came to the flowers, and she was able to gather local, sustainably-sourced flowers from several different places and arrange them herself. Two Little Buds | That Girl’s Flowers | Jackie’s yard davidson-details-11  abbie-keith-preview-06 For my bouquet, my sister’s bouquet, small bouquets for the moms and grandma, and boutonnieres for my husband, best man, dads, and grandpas, I spent a total of $100 on these babies (yes, we were very resourceful and tactful, but I’m pretty sure we also got lucky with this price). Jackie, my sister, and I had a flower-arranging party a couple days before the wedding and had a lot of fun putting the bouquets together! davidson-bride-groom-38 HAIR, MAKEUP, NAILS I got my hair and makeup done by my friends Holly and Amy, who are pros at making people look and feel beautiful. We got our nails done at Spruce Natural Nail Shop in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati. Most typical nail salons are filled with chemicals that are not only harmful for you, but have found to cause problems like infertility among the workers after being exposed to them day after day. Not only that, but nail salons are a hotspots for human trafficking, abuse, underpayment, and other unethical practices. Spruce Nail Shop not only treats its employees well, but all of their products are natural, eco-friendly, vegan, and cruelty-free. Plus, their shop is SO cute and comfortable! davidson-getting-ready-15 VENUE: Finding the right venue was quite difficult. Location is often one of the most expensive parts of a wedding, and it often comes with rules and stipulations about food and drinks which can increase your budget even more.   We landed at The Frock, a small studio and event space in Covington, Kentucky that is run by a florist, a photographer, and an event planning company. The ladies of The Frock are amazing and so helpful. Usually the space is used for events like showers, business meetings, launch parties and the like; this was the first wedding that was held there. We had both the ceremony and the reception there, which made for a different feel than a traditional wedding. Guests arrived, got drinks, and mingled for about 20 minutes. We rolled out a rose colored walkway for my dad and I, then had a short ceremony and everyone except parents and grandparents just stood to watch. We didn’t want a bunch of time in between the ceremony and reception, so we just combined it into one big party! We set up a DIY photo booth and brought out chairs for people to sit and eat following the ceremony. It was out of the box, but so intimate; I’m really glad we decided to use this space! davidson-details-22 DECORATIONS: The Frock didn’t need much decorating, as it was already so beautiful and elegant! We hung a “Best Day Ever” balloon, some twinkle lights, and a few vases with gold paper flowers, but kept the decorations minimal. davidson-details-39 FOOD & DRINKS: This was the one area where we sacrificed sustainability for budget. We catered a taco bar from a local joint and one of Hamilton Ohio’s best kept secrets, Allen’s Market, which came highly recommended by our brother-in-law. We purchased our beer and wine in bulk from a local liquor store and paid a couple really awesome friends of a friend to be our bartenders for the evening. We used regular old paper plates, cups, and utensils. davidson-reception-006 DESSERT: My Dad owns Maggie Moo’s ice cream in Centerville, Ohio. I looooove ice cream, and neither my husband nor I are big fans of cake, so we decided to just have an ice cream bar instead! It was so fun, and our friends and family loved it.   COFFEE BAR: I was so excited to have a La Terza Coffee espresso bar at our wedding. La Terza Coffee not only roasts the best coffee in Cincinnati, but they care deeply about social enterprise. All of their coffee farmers are paid and treated fairly, and David Gaines, La Terza’s primary owner, is one of Seven Seeds’ Co-Founders! Feel free to let him know if you’d like more information on getting a full-service coffee and espresso bar at your wedding or event.   Our guests loved the way we did our food, and I got a lot of comments about how they preferred the taco bar, ice cream, and espresso bar over the traditional sit down dinner with some food that was probably much more expensive and didn’t taste as good. Again, don’t be afraid to step outside the box and forget about tradition!   PHOTOGRAPHER: After speaking with lots of brides who had gone before me, this was the one thing that almost all of them said to prioritize. “You’re not going to be able to save your dinner, dessert, or decorations. Your photos you will keep forever,” they said. I took their advice and wanted to make sure to capture this day as beautifully as I could. I worked with Jenn Manor once before on a spread about the conscious scene in Cincinnati for Conscious Magazine Issue 04, and she did a wonderful job. I loved her style and felt it would fit well with my own. abbie-keith-preview-05   REGISTRY: Keith and I debated a lot about whether or not we even wanted a registry. Though there were definitely things we needed for our home, we are somewhat of minimalists, and the last thing we wanted was a bunch of new STUFF we didn’t need! However, I know most people (myself included) really enjoy getting gifts for others, so I created a couple registries anyway.   We ended up using Thankful Registry. Thankful is based on the concept of gratitude over greed, and values individuality, thoughtfulness, and equality. They make it really easy for you to create your own beautiful registry website and add products from any website on the Internet. So you can shop around and add products from all of your favorite ethical brands, as well as add a Honeymoon Fund where guests can give money through PayPal. davidson-details-30 GIFTS: We decided against giving party favors to all of our guests, mostly because it just seemed wasteful to spend a thousand dollars on some little trinket that would most likely get thrown out. I did a lot of research to find something that would be actually practical and wouldn’t use a bunch of plastic packing material, but didn’t come up with anything that would be worth it. I’m pretty sure no one cared.   As for gifts for our parents, officiant, MOH and best man, we carefully picked out and purchased very personalized gifts, most of them from Etsy. They were almost entirely handmade, from an initial charm bracelet for my mother-in-law, to a hammer engraved with my handwriting for my dad. For my good friend who did my makeup, we got a bracelet from The Shine Project, a brand that employs first generation college students. And for my friend who did my flowers (and like a ton of other stuff), a giftcard to Continuum, a favorite women’s clothing and accessory boutique in Cincinnati where everything is produced ethically and sustainably.   MORAL OF THE STORY: I am so, so happy with how our wedding day turned out. We celebrated with the people we love, we didn’t spend a ton of money, and I could feel good about what I was wearing. I was really happy to give up the comparing game of the Brides of the Internet and do things simply instead. abbie-keith-preview-14 Throwing an affordable, conscious wedding is a challenge. In the end, my advice to you is this:   Prioritize and be realistic. So, be yourself! Wedding “rules” are so outdated, so do things the way you want! If you don’t want a white dress, don’t wear a white dress. If you don’t want to have it in a traditional venue, then don’t. If people want to judge you, that’s their problem, and they can do things the way they want on their wedding day!   If you can’t afford to source everything 100% ethically, then do what you can. Choose a few things, and fight to find vendors, artisans, and brands that care about social justice and giving back to the community.   Set proper expectations. Remember: it’s a special day, but it’s still just a day. Chances are, not everything is going to go your way. That’s okay! Part of living a conscious lifestyle is learning how to choose your battles and decide what is important to stand up for. So, be kind. Go with the flow. Remember what this day is about. abbie-keith-preview-12 Use your resources! Perhaps the best piece of advice I can give you is: let people help you. Did you notice a trend in this post? My friends and family did practically everything! From my dress, to my flowers, to my hair and makeup, I called on my talented people and asked if they would contribute in one way or another. Of course the people who love you are going to be happy to do so. Not only does this cut down on costs (a lot!), but it also makes the day so much more speci davidson-ceremony-52abbie-keith-preview-16davidson-ceremony-07davidson-reception-058 Dress: Top – Style Saint | Skirt/MOH Dress: made by Bride’s mom (Tracie Hendrix) | Engagement ring: Brilliant Earth | Bride’s band: Old Hills Design Co. | Flowers: sourced from Two Little Buds,  That Girl’s Flowers and arranged by Jaclyn Stephens | Venue: The Frock | Nails: Spruce Nail Shop | Hair: Amy Michael (friend) | Makeup: Holly Mullinix (friend) | Food: Allen’s Market (local small business) | Ice Cream Bar: Maggie Moo’s Ice Cream, Centerville (local small business) | Coffee Bar: La Terza Coffee | Photographer: Jenn Manor | Registry: Thankful Registry

Weddings That Give Back: Poonam & Nishkaam- Santa Monica, CA

Did you know?
It only takes 50 cents to provide a day’s rations to a hungry child in the midst of a conflict zone.
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Poonam Kaushal and Nishkaam Mehta, of California, knew the statistics and they shared in their concern for the global hunger pandemic. Upon their exciting engagement announcement, Poonam and Nish decided to do something totally different with their $20K wedding budget. They used their wedding dollars to feed the children of Cameroon, through World Food Programme’s Share The Meal app.
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‘Right now you have 20 times more smart phones, than hungry children around the world,’ said Nish to a local Santa Monica news station. That statistic alone is mind blowing and sobering enough to make you think twice about that most recent iPhone upgrade.
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 Instead of a traditional multi-day Indian wedding and registry, the couple donated the large majority of their wedding budget to support 40,000 meals and raised hundreds of thousands of more meals through their crowd sharing campaign.  Their Million Meals for Love campaign launched on January 14 and concluded on Valentine’s Day with a simple civil ceremony and intimate reception. They have since raised 270K+ meals and are simply grateful to their loved ones and honored to be a part feeding and empowering the children of Cameroon through their Million Meals for Love campaign!
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If you would like to get involved and Share the Meal with hungry children worldwide, Download the app today and donate!   
Photographer credit: Matei Horvath Photography

National Park Wedding: Gina & Bob- Zion National Park, Utah

Get your hiking boots on, because for the next 7 days BSB will be sharing ONLY 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) S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB291low Gina and Bob got married in Zion National Park with the beautiful red walls as the perfect back drop for their photos! They had their ceremony in the late morning at the Temple of Sinawava at the entrance to the narrows followed by a lunch reception with their closest friends and family. Later in the day they met back up with their photographer, Bergreen Photography, for sunset portraits at the canyon overlook. After hiking out the the overlook they enjoyed a spectacular sunset with the glowing canyon walls! S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB048low S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB060low S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB153low S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB164lowS_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB280lowS_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB186lowS_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB187low   S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB254low S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB262low  S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB286low  S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB292low S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB314low S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB315low S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB316low S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB317low S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB318low S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB334low S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB336low S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB348low S_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB219lowS_L_BergreenPhotography_SpinellaSpinellaBergreenPhotographyGB355low National Park: Zion National Park | Photographer: Bergreen 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 April 15: Jr. Park Ranger Appreciation Day. 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!