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.
What brought you into the wedding industry?
It’s hard to say if I found the wedding industry, or if it found me. I’ve been working at Brooklyn Grange for six years and was one of the company’s first employees. At that point in time we were working with a very blank slate and the idea of weddings on the farm always felt so natural. The farm is a space that makes everyone feel something, whether it’s a deep connection to nature, a memory from the past, a feeling that you’re home, or even a sense of empowerment. It’s amazing how one place can mean different things to so many people. From the beginning couples have been attracted to Brooklyn Grange, and so we responded with open arms :)
What is the most rewarding element of your work?
This probably sounds super corny, but it’s truly amazing to experience someone’s wedding day with them. You basically feel like you’re part of someone’s family for 6 months to a year. It’s typically a really intimate process and we appreciate that so much. We meet some lovely couples, and often continue a relationship with them over the years, whether it’s because they end up joining our CSA or become regulars at our ticketed dinner events. We love our ever expanding "farmily!"
What challenges do you face in the industry?
I want to see the events industry in general take a more sustainable turn. The events sector can be especially wasteful and inefficient, so we are working with our clients and vendors to create experiences that are as conscientious as they are unforgettable. We believe that beautiful, effective and engaging experiences can be produced in a manner without compromising the health of our planet. We are focusing on creating a low-to-zero-waste mindset when it comes to wedding planning, and have a list of guidelines that we share with our clients. These guidelines have been designed so people aren’t making sacrifices, they’re just shifting the way they think in order to make smarter choices. Some things are as simple as asking your caterer not to use plastic straws or having your floral designer forgo floral foam. The chefs we partner with are excited to incorporate local produce into their menus, including the vegetables we grow on our farm- not to mention we compost all leftovers onsite! We hope to empower our clients to eat and drink more locally, more sustainably, and more deliciously.
Who inspires you in the industry?
I’m inspired by the amazingly supportive community of wedding professionals in Brooklyn. I know that’s a broad answer, but I’m so impressed by this large group of people who work in a seemingly competitive industry that genuinely have each others backs! There’s very much a team mentality and everyone’s always willing to share advice/experiences and by doing so we empower one another to do the best work possible. I think that too often people who work in similar fields and might have competing businesses tend to push away from one another, but I haven’t found that to be the case within the Brooklyn wedding world. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that there is a real support system here.
What marriage tradition are you sick of?
I think I have to say gifts (sorry!). I’ve seen more and more people opt for life and/or honeymoon funds or charitable donations, and I think that’s awesome. Otherwise, people undoubtedly end up with more stuff they don’t want or need.
How are you using your platform to give back or impact a larger community?
Brooklyn Grange partners with a handful of non profit organizations that are doing incredible work! Our farm serves a lot of purposes, and we never underestimate the value of Brooklyn Grange as a place to learn and grow (no pun intended!). Organizations like City Growers and the Refugee Immigrant Fund help us serve our community in a meaningful way. City Growers has brought close to 40,000 children and young adults to our farms for educational excursions and workshops where they learn about earth science, nutrition, and environmental sustainability. While RIF offers asylum seekers a paid fellowship in urban agriculture on our farm(s). The six-month training program prepares asylum seekers for life in NYC via job readiness training, English immersion, psychological healing, and community building. We also host fundraisers for each of these organizations every summer on the farm, and our catering partners often come on board to support these groups as well.
If you could have dinner with a famous female-identified badass [dead or alive], who would it be and why?
I currently have a small obsession with the New York City Sanitation Commissioner, Kathryn Garcia, and would love to set a table for her on the farm! I know sanitation does not sound sexy, but I really admire everything she’s doing for our city. She not only manages the world’s largest sanitation department, but she’s on track to make NYC zero waste by 2030. She’s the one to thank for the city’s new curbside composting program and what’s not to love about that?! When I think about everything she’s already accomplished and the amount of planning that must go into implementing these policies in a city like NYC it seriously blows my mind. I’d love to show her what we have going on here at Brooklyn Grange :)