Welcome to Changing the Game, a Modern Rebel blog series where we talk with professionals in the wedding industry who are using their platform to diversify the industry’s image, give back to their community, and challenge the idea of what a wedding “should” be.
This week we talked with Nicki Fleischner of Plan With Purpose, a place to find the resources, vendors and ideas you need to plan a successful event that gives back in the process, and that has social justice, sustainability, and civic-mindedness at its core. For more, you can find them on Instagram @planwpurpose.
What brought you into the wedding industry?
After helping plan my own wedding this past September, I gained a newfound appreciation for just how much time and money goes into executing a truly great event. When you get that final party rentals invoice… and you realize it amounts to several months rent… well, it gives you pause. I just had this a-ha moment where I thought... as educated consumers, so many of us already shop smart— even for relatively inexpensive, daily items— so why don't more of us plan smart for events that are objectively much more costly and special? So I just decided to go for it, and to build a platform that would make it that much easier to be a purposeful event planner. My goal with Plan with Purpose is to create a genuinely useful online directory that exclusively showcases vendors that prioritize justice, ethics, equality, sustainability, and giving back. So couples know that whichever vendor they go with, they are supporting organizations and businesses that are reshaping the events industry.
What is the most rewarding element of your work?
Definitely meeting other vendors! I am a total outsider to the events industry, and so I started building Plan with Purpose just by sending a whooooole lot of cold emails. I am so grateful to those that responded! Getting to know these people who have built totally mission-driven businesses-- whether it's the brewery that combats food waste, or the catering company that trains refugee chefs, or the bakeries that offer people who were formerly incarcerated second chance careers-- has been incredible. It's rewarding just to connect with, and provide some much-deserved publicity for, people already making an impact.
What changes do you want to see in the wedding industry? What steps are you taking to make this change happen?
Weddings are SO expensive, no matter how untraditional you decide to be about it. I would love for the wedding industry to start prioritizing helping couples' dollars stretch further by giving back. As a bride, I was totally guilty of getting swept up in the logistics and "the stuff", and losing perspective of what the day and celebration is really supposed to be all about. I think it's an easy trap to fall into; and that it's in part enabled by a wedding industry that thrives on selling us crap we don't need.
I think when you see the growing number of people that add a charitable cause to their wedding registry, it's obvious that giving back, and supporting/ spreading the word about missions that are personally meaningful, is important to couples. The rest of the wedding industry should reflect this; should be making it easier for couples to spend money in ways that reflect their values; should promote fair hiring practices, a sustainable living wage, and ethical supply chains; should be looking for a way to eliminate waste at the end of the night; should be repurposing leftovers to those that need it most.
That's precisely what Plan with Purpose is all about: showcasing people in the wedding industry that are already doing all of these things. It's about making it easy to plan a successful event that gives back in the process, and that has social justice, sustainability, and civic-mindedness at its core. If enough couples opt for vendors like those featured on Plan with Purpose, maybe the wedding industry as a whole will shift in the right direction.
What marriage tradition are you sick of?
The up-down-up-down between eating food and dancing! I'm all about getting your meal over with at the beginning, and then once you're up to dance, you're dancing for good! I'm into this for so many reasons. 1. I think it helps reduce food waste because people are more likely to actually sit and eat their main course when they aren't distracted by the dance floor. 2. It gives a mini "dinner party" feel, where people are able to sit and chat more and 3. It makes the concluding dance party all the more high energy! People are fed, they have some booze in them, and they're ready to go!
Are you using your platform to give back or impact a larger community? If yes, how + why?
As of now Plan with Purpose is 100% not-for-profit. I don't take any commissions from the vendors featured on it, and am running the site as a total passion project. I guess it's my small way of giving back to vendors that are giving back themselves!
What do you think is still missing from the industry?
Super effective clean-up! The average wedding (of 100 guests) generates 400-600 pounds of waste. That is insane. Too often leftover food, flowers, decor-items, etc. wind up in the trash. With aaaalll of the many things to plan leading up to a wedding, the clean-up often (and understandably) becomes an afterthought. And since couples often don't have to come face-to-face with the waste left at the end, it's not necessarily on their radar either. We all need to find ways to be more intentional about clean-up.
If you could have dinner with a famous female or LGBTQ identified badass [dead or alive], who would it be and why?
Honestly, years ago I read this Rolling Stone cover story about Rihanna, and ever since it sporadically pops into my head and I'm like: "wow, it would be SO FUN to hang with Rihanna." The story involved her like hunkering down on some BBQ wings at a comedy show alone, and then the next day just hanging out at her mansion with her Bahamian friends eating cereal. I feel like she's someone you could have dinner with, and actually laugh and have a real conversation.
Plan With Purpose provides resources nationwide. If you’d like to get in touch with them, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Credits for below wedding photos — Photographer: Hyde Photos / Planner: Monica Relyea Events / Venue: Camp Scatico Florals: Adams Fairacre Farms