I had a Charitybuzz wedding

by Rachel Kropa

Today is my wedding anniversary. It’s been three years so far (and I hope it’s another three hundred). As I think back on all that has happened in the world in that short time, I figure we can use a little levity, so I’m sharing a story about how my wedding came to be, on this day in 2014.

There’s a definitive hazard in doing the work we do in the CAA Foundation. If you are an advisor to other people, celebrities, or high net-worth individuals, you keep up with current events and you meet every nonprofit organization that there is to meet. Thus, everyone tells you the problems they are trying to solve in the world. And when that happens, you start absorbing all of these problems into your own lifestyle, so that any time you think about making a decision, you can suffer complete paralyzation.

I put every purchasing choice I make through an extensive, mind-numbing rubric based on my accumulated knowledge of social causes. For example, I had an existential crisis the other night at a fish taco chain restaurant. There weren’t many options in the vicinity of the theater where a friend and I were already late to see a movie. First, I’m thinking: I have no idea what the values of the ownership of this fish taco chain restaurant are. How could I possibly jump headlong into this dining experience and make it look effortless, as if I suffer from no neuroses? Well, it turns out that this particular restaurant has a description to the side of the menu where one can find out the source of the fish, which is great. Phew, I put away my Seafood Watch app. Second, there is NOTHING to drink at this place that isn’t subsidized by Big Sugar. Crap. Oh wait, there was a particular iced tea brand that looked fairly safe over at the end. Great, I’ll have it in a waxed-paper cup (or is it polyethylene-coated? recyclable?) with no lid and no straw, because those are bad for marine life…which I’m about to eat. Third, “is this for HERE or TO GO?” I’ve told you, we’re late, but we’re having this for HERE, in order to prevent the need for more packaging. By this point, I’ll need to start cramming food like a foie gras goose (no!) and miss the first five minutes of the film.

Here is a sampling of some other purchasing decisions to paralyze you, which you may not even be aware need to be made:

- Which person in what far away country sewed your new favorite shirt for the Fast Fashion industry? How much is that person being paid, and how are the working conditions?

- What is going to happen to the heavy metals in your cell phone when the screen breaks and the company tells you it’s “easier” to just replace the whole thing?

- How far did your strawberries travel before they made their way into your grocery cart? Furthermore, what was sprayed on them, and if YOU don’t buy them, what does the grocery store do with them when they go past the expiration date?

- How much rainforest, or mountain, needs to be leveled in order to provide enough gold, and potentially diamonds, for your new wedding ring?

And that’s where we arrive at the idea of weddings.

I was not a person who dreamt about weddings from a young age. I actually never thought of it as a necessary part of life until it became tied to a possible reason to travel. Granted, travel is my Achilles heel — I manage it carefully for carbon footprint purposes, but it’s not something I’ve been able to give up, among the many other things that I have. And rather than create an extravagant wedding that would potentially waste a significant amount of money and do very little good for anyone, I happened to look to Charitybuzz.

Charitybuzz (part of the Charity Network), in case you don’t know, is one of the many platforms that allows people to turn something they might do anyway — in this case, buy an experience or a gift for themselves or someone else — into an opportunity to help a nonprofit. I am a fan of businesses like this (see the end for a handful of others*).

In my travels on Charitybuzz one June day, searching through the landscape of items that one might try to hock for one’s own pet nonprofit fundraiser (ahem, Peer Health Exchange LA) I came across a section called Travel that I hadn’t fully explored. There was an 8BR villa in Jamaica for auction that would fund a fitness organization for children. Hmmm. I could convince my partner that we needed an opportunity to celebrate our 10th anniversary of being together by going to Jamaica with our families. That would work, we both loved vacationing with our families, and I loved the rush of bidding. The great thing about auctions, too, is that many items don’t often go for the full “retail” value…and this one didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it was still more than I would spend on a vacation for myself, but not more than I would spend on a vacation for two people to the Caribbean, and definitely not more than I would spend on a vacation for 16 people in 8 bedrooms.

Somewhere around August, having met the owner of the property — who turned out to live a mere 6 miles from us and was incredibly cool about people saying vows at his house — the idea of celebrating our 10th year together became a small wedding. Neither one of us remembers whose idea it was. Maybe it was the fact that it seemed so easy, maybe we liked the fact that there was no overthinking it, but my partner and I arranged for November of that same year. I bought a second-hand wedding dress on eBay for $99, and two vintage rings to exchange. And then we told the 26 guests that they just had to show up. Having never before set foot on the island of Jamaica, we managed to pull it off because: 1) it was just our families and a few childhood friends, 2) the people on the island were delightful and set a relaxed tone for everyone 3) everyone knew that we had made a donation by having a wedding…instead of spending our money on floral arrangements. So everyone pitched in to contribute to the atmosphere on the day of the event. Our guests hung bows and paper lanterns they found (thank you, Kim, Mom & Dad for leading the charge!), officiated (thank you, Luis!), read poems (thanks Maddie and Shea!), played the live music (thank you, Ryan!), curated digital playlists (thank you, Andy!) and managed the guestbook (thank you, Beth!)

Wedding Day 11.07.14

It was the most fun I’ve ever had…as it should be. There was nothing to cart away afterward, no other invoices to pay after the group left, and nothing was wasted.

And I’m pretty crazy about my husband. He did have a moustache in all the photos, since he wouldn’t dream of skipping Movember, but I’ll always be happy that he was in the same mindset that I was: charity first!


Cuba, 2014

These days you can do almost anything for charity, and you should. You should support companies that support nonprofits. There are realtors that donate a portion of their commissions to the charity of the buyer’s choice. Here’s one near me that does it. There are brands that were developed after the TOMS model, to give an item to a deserving person for every item that you buy — check out This Bar Saves Lives, FEED, The Giving Keys, Warby Parker, and Yoobi. You should get to know what B Corps are, what Fair Trade Certified means, and who Rainforest Alliance has certified. You should try buying things from within 100 miles of where you live, or at least get to know how far your purchases traveled to get to you. Secondary markets are great for anything non-perishable — there is plenty of old stuff to go around before new stuff is created.

If you can solve a social problem by buying one thing instead of another, you should do it. The cliché of “vote with your wallet” isn’t going away. And you won’t get it right all the time, but if you get it right half of the time, it’s major coup for the planet and humanity.

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