Let’s be real. It’s easy to carry the weight of the world right now. Between the pandemic and call for social change, we have the tremendous undertaking of working to make this world a better place. The redemption? LOVE.
Love isn’t scared of a pandemic. Love is the most powerful force to cross cultures, race, and status and unite people. We’re all about the love here at Ethical Weddings, both between humans and our planet. That’s why we’re overjoyed to bring you a dose of the ultimate feels from this intimate waterfront wedding, handed directly from one of our favorite real wedding couples: Monica and Gideon.
These high-school friends turned partners in life and biz now live in NYC and run a sustainable wealth management company.
This is their love story, and we hope it shines a little light in your life today.
1. How did you two meet and when did you know it was the real thing?
Neither of us can actually remember when we first laid eyes on each other, but we hung out in overlapping social circles.
Through high school, we’d gone on a community service trip, hiked, sailed, swam, and stargazed together. Fast forward to 2014 when Gideon was living in Philadelphia working as both an airline pilot and a wealth manager, and I was living in NYC working at Citi.
Cover photos had very recently become a thing on Facebook and Gideon out of the blue commented on my cover pic (an aerial view of the Exuma Cays in the Bahamas). He said “Where is this?” and that was all it took for a blossoming romance to take off.
Facebook messaging led to texting which eventually led to Gideon hoodwinking me into a first date under the guise of old friends catching up. We went bowling where we split the bill because #feminism and bonded over both being celiac.
We ended up staying out late at a dive bar and it wasn’t until Gideon kissed me that I even realized it was actually a date, surprise! I didn’t mind, as I was initially attracted to Gideon’s non-conformity and bold spontaneity. Gideon loved my endless grace and killer combo of high EQ/IQ. Next thing we knew, we were in a long-distance relationship, road-tripping through Spain and biking through Corsica. We knew it was a forever kind of thing when Gideon made the move to NYC the following year and we moved in together.
2. What shared values brought you closer together?
Overall we’re both very easy-going; we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and we laugh a lot. We share a common future vision. Personally, we want lots of traveling, woke kids, and a dream house. Professionally, we’re working towards an environmentally and socially conscious world built on loving and supporting one another.
We share similar personal and professional values, hobbies, backgrounds, family values, and life goals. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we are in fact two different people and it’s okay for us to have different opinions.
It’s funny because back in high school we had already met each other’s parents and been to each other’s houses. Our families still live down the road from each other which makes holidays a breeze. We have a lot of friends in common who were also at our intimate waterfront wedding so that made it even more special.
3. How did you decide on an intimate waterfront wedding?
We both wanted a wedding outdoors and on the water; elegant and beautiful yet relaxed and down to earth. French’s Point, located on the coast of Maine, was the first venue we visited and we immediately knew that this was it for our wedding. We went with organic minimalism for our wedding theme — white with natural greens, very understated to put the venue in focus.
It was important for us to personalize our wedding and highlight cultural elements from both our family backgrounds, Chinese and Jewish.
We also made sure everything was kid and dog friendly. We had so many cute babies and dogs at our wedding, it was amazing! Our dogs, Leonidas and Schnitzel, had the best weekend of their lives. We found out on Sunday that Schnitzel and the caterers had developed a close relationship ever since he found the back entrance to the kitchen and became the official taste tester.
4. Why was it important for you to have an ethical wedding?
We wanted to be as intentional with our intimate waterfront wedding as we are with every other aspect of our life.
We run our own sustainable wealth management practice, Good Capital Investment Group, so being socially responsible is very much a part of who we are and our core values.
We are on a mission to help purpose-driven individuals and families feel confident about their finances, grow their wealth, align their money with their values, and use their wealth to create meaningful change. Often when people think about sustainability, they forget to take into account their own financial sustainability. We’re here to change that.
By divesting from harmful industries such as coal, gun manufacturers, tobacco, and prisons, and actively making a positive impact on companies through proxy votes and shareholder resolutions, we’re working with our clients to create real and lasting change using their wealth.
Over the years, we’ve kept coming back to what we can personally change in our lives to be a better global citizen and help make the world a better place. This mentality and life choice influenced how we shop, what we buy, what we eat, what we invest in, and naturally what we wanted for our wedding.
5. How did you incorporate ethical choices into your intimate waterfront wedding?
Our baseline was making sure we were doing things for ourselves because they made sense, we wanted them, and that they aligned with our values.
We didn’t want to do anything solely because tradition dictated. With that mindset, we were able to eliminate a lot of the typical wedding waste.
- Our save-the-dates were emailed, and we sent postcard wedding invites printed on recycled paper.
- We chose local vendors with similar values who composted, reduced their waste, recycled, rented, and reused as much as possible.
- We intentionally chose to forgo welcome gifts and wedding favors since we found that they often led to unnecessary waste.
- We used rentals pretty much everywhere which was eco-friendly and easy.
- Since we had already been living together for several years we didn’t need more material goods, so our wedding registry consisted of a charity fund and a honey fund. Gideon’s brother, Oren, got us the best gift of all and offset the carbon footprint of our entire wedding.
- We saved the leftover food and donated what we could. We’re still working through leftover marshmallows and chocolate that we brought home almost a year ago!
We realized we have a talented group of friends, who were more than happy to jump in and help on our big day.
Our friend Allie Hopfan officiated the ceremony, Michelle Yu made our cake, Jenna Riemenschneider did Monica’s hair, and Gideon’s father Gary made our wedding bands and chuppah! We loved the idea of spending an entire weekend together with our close friends and family.
Having everyone we loved get to know and spend time with each other was a dream come true. The weather being perfect was a pretty awesome cherry on top.
6. What was the biggest obstacle you faced with planning your ethical wedding?
Our biggest obstacle was not compromising on the experience we wanted for ourselves and our guests while trying to be as sustainable as possible. We considered the environmental impact of our wedding as we thought through each detail.
We wanted to give our guests an incredible experience without the waste. Some of our favorite weddings have had the most incredible food spreads. An entire room filled with every type of dessert imaginable, a cocktail hour with 10+ food stations, that was all amazing, but we couldn’t help but think about the waste.
As much as we love flowers, we considering the environmental impact. We ended up compromising on the amounts of both food and flowers and tried to emphasize quality over quantity.
7. What were the splurges in your budget and where were you willing to cut costs?
All of the little costs add up and everything becomes way more expensive than you originally planned for. We were able to save on certain areas, but had to splurge on the venue, photography and videography with drone footage, and catering – had to have AMAZING food. Many people told us after our wedding that Bar Harbor Catering Company was the best wedding food they’d ever had! Also, the bistro lights that were strung up underneath the tent were quite a splurge. Who knew rental bistro lights could be so expensive?
We went back and forth between DJ or live band for a while. At one point, we seriously thought about a Spotify playlist. We ultimately settled on getting a DJ. Shoutout to DJ Rich Dimare. He was the best! He played every single song we wanted and every song we didn’t know we wanted but loved. He was amazing at reading the crowd and we had the time of our lives.
We took on several DIY projects that helped with the cost of the wedding and made the event more personal and sustainable. I hand-lettered the place settings. Gideon bought all the beer, wine, and liquor locally and returned any excess after the event. It turned out to be a huge cost saver for us to buy the alcohol on our own.
9. What advice do you have for couples planning an ethical wedding?
Explore all options and find something that works for you! Make sure to partner with ethical vendors who share similar values.
Think through everything you’re including in your wedding and ask yourself if you’re just doing it because it’s traditional, or if it’s something actually important to you and your values. A wedding is a celebration of love and if something doesn’t necessarily reflect you or your partner, why include it?
We were also given some solid advice to stay next to each other for the duration of our wedding day.
This way we weren’t spending all of our time playing host and actually have memories with each other on our wedding day. Most of the weekend was a free-for-all, but the only time we weren’t at each others’ hip on our actual wedding day was when I quickly ran to the bathroom and missed The Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), one of my favorite dance floor songs *tear*.
10. Thank you for sharing your amazing wedding with us! Before we wrap up, what’s the funniest memory you have together?
A quintessentially us experience was when we were hiking up Andorra’s highest peak, Coma Pedrosa, only a few months into dating back in 2015. We got a late start to the day and after hiking for six hours with only one bottle of water to share and very few snacks.
Gideon thought it would be faster if we just scaled the side of the mountain straight up to the peak instead of following the meandering snow-covered trail around the side of the mountain. Before we knew it, we were scrambling our way up the side of a very steep cliff. Luckily, we made it to the top safely and back down the mountain as the sun was setting. It’s funny because the idea of turning around never occurred to us.
We can’t think of a better metaphor for these two! We know that Monica and Gideon have a long, happy future together. Just like on their big day, hip-to-hip and never looking back is the real-life love story we are so here for.
Venue: French’s Point
Catering: Bar Harbor Catering Company
Cake: Michelle Yu
Photography: Seamless Photography
Videography: StopGoLove Videography
Flowers: Emily Carter Floral Design
DJ: DJ Rich Dimare
Rentals: Wallace Event Rentals
Crave more real wedding content? Get inspo from our socially conscious wedding archives!