In the event space outside our news room, Creative Loafing has hosted photo shoots and art shows, pop-up dinners and public readings, and even a few weddings here and there. We don't always cover them, in favor of letting guests have their, pun not intended, space.
Today is a different story.
Danielle Calhoun, creator and host of the blog Black Sheep Bride, is bustling about inside the venue, opening up tables and offering opinions on table linens. She's watching weeks of planning come to fruition as she sets up a wedding that she says will “showcase the good in the wedding industry.”
Before blogging and wedding planning, Calhoun was a wedding photographer and a humanitarian. (She still is a humanitarian, by the way.) After returning from a trip volunteering in orphanages in West Africa, she found herself wanting to take a different approach to weddings, one that focused more on giving back.
“We're about challenging the status quo,” Calhoun said. “Encouraging people to think outside fakeness.”
Thus, her blog was born. Dubbed by a friend as the “black sheep” of the industry, Black Sheep Bride focuses on connecting do-gooder couples who give back to their communities with products and vendors who have a like-minded philosophy. Today, she's putting together a wedding for one of those couples.
And she's calling it Wedding World Changer Day.
The day is designed to celebrate couples who give back to their communities by providing them with a free wedding put together by local vendors. At 6 p.m. tonight, soon-to-be Astrid and Gary Proffitt will be married at such a wedding.
"We want to encourage the global wedding community to give back," Calhoun said.
Calhoun said that the two people getting married tonight, who were chosen by vendors, have a “good giving backstory.” Gary is a firefighter in Palm Harbor, while his fiancée, Astrid, is working toward her degree in pediatric occupational therapy.
The couple was planning a wedding in late fall, but when Astrid's mother developed cancer they needed to seek an earlier wedding date.
Couples nominate themselves on the Black Sheep Bride website. Eligible couples must be actively involved in their communities, be willing to get married on a specific date, be agreeable to a 50-person headcount and pledge 100 community service hours within their first year of marriage.
In the future, Calhoun hopes that Wedding World Changer Day will become a national phenomenon. Next year, she said she's hoping for ten different weddings occurring on the same day.
Black Sheep Bride is based in Tampa. On the blog, couples can nominate themselves for a wedding next year.