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Monday, January 24, 2011

Making Wedding Wishes a Reality

I hired a wedding planner, which was a really hard decision for me because 1) I have a problem asking for help when I need it, and 2) I plan events for work all the time. Yet it is this second reason that made me realize that I really needed help.  A crucial part of event planning is having relationships with vendors – something that is hard to do when you are over a thousand miles away from where your wedding will be held! I knew that in order to find vendors who would be interested in a wedding for a cause, I would need someone who knew a lot of vendors.

When going into meetings with event planners, it was very important to me that the planner be inspired and interested in my mission- to give back to others through my wedding. As soon as my fiancĂ© and I met with Emily Sullivan, the owner of Get Polished Events, and several other members of the staff, we were  struck by how interested they were in making weddings personal and not cookie-cutter.  They were really interested in the uniqueness of our cause and promised to help us get started searching for vendors that would support our goals.  Emily almost immediately started naming vendors who she thought would want to get involved with our cause.  Her enthusiasm, as well as the rest of the staffs’ sold us. 
A wedding done by Get Polished Events at The Foundry
So we hired Get Polished Event planners. As a New Orleans based business that specializes in both planning and beauty services- Get Polished has a lot of local connections.  One of the connections I was most excited about was Emily’s connection with Wish Upon A Wedding.  She serves on the board for the newly launched New Orleans chapter.

Officially launched in January of 2010, Wish Upon a Wedding is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization that provides weddings and vow renewals to couples that are facing terminal illness or other serious life-altering circumstances. The organization is non-discriminating, as it helps couples have the wedding of their dreams regardless of their sexual orientation. Often, couples that are facing difficult situations, like terminal disease, do not have the time, energy or finances needed to plan their weddings.  Wish Upon a Wedding takes care of all the wedding details, offering couples a chance to enjoy their special day while being surrounded by the love of their closest family and friends.

The website features real couples who have benefited from Wish Upon A Wedding.  It is obvious how important a service this not-for-profit is providing when you see the couples on their Wedding Day. While their personal stories are gut-wrenching, reading them really instills a sense of hope and strength for any couple, especially those who may be facing or have faced similar situations.

Wish Upon a Wedding currently has over a dozen chapters across the United States. I was excited to find out that both NOLA and DC had chapters launch in 2011. You can support Wish Upon a Wedding – either  through, cash, airline miles, volunteer hours, buy hosting an event or making a donation in lieu of favors for your wedding.

Even though Emily and I have just begun working together, she has already introduced me to some amazing people, including Doug Keese of Artisan Style. Like Emily, Doug works with Wish Upon A Wedding, as well as the Boys and Girls Club.  While Doug won't be shooting our wedding day- I was excited to get to know him and learn about all the great work he is doing in New Orleans.  The photographer who will be capturing our wedding day- Jessica of Fine Arts Exposure, has used her magazine, New Orleans Weddings Magazine, to do a great deal of volunteer work raising awareness for causes such as the American Heart Association's Go Red for women campaign and the LSPCA.  I'm looking forward to partnering with her to support these and other causes as the wedding planning proceeds.

Writing this blog has been exciting for many reasons, but it has been most rewarding because it has provided me with an outlet to showcase quite a few great people who are making a difference. I never expected to find so many people who make giving back a core guiding principle in their lives.  Even for-profit businesses, such as The Foundry and Get Polished, find ways to give back through humanitarian endeavors and charitable contributions in their respective fields.   Whether philanthropy is their full-time job or just what they do on the side- discovering all the philanthropic efforts that people are taking part in as been inspiring.  

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