NEWS

Couple takes up recycling to help with wedding costs

Deborah Allard

Michael Ramos and Suzanne Raposo are on a mission to have the wedding of their dreams, but dreams cost money, and even with five jobs between them it’s an amazing expense.

So, the plucky couple thought of another way to fund their wedding — collecting soda cans and bottles. So far, they’ve made about $200 in just a month. That’s 3,800 empty cans and bottles.

“I’ve only broken three,” Ramos said, heaving a load of garbage bags filled to near bursting into the couple’s convertible.

“That’s 15 cents,” quipped Raposo.

Ramos and Raposo, a “sickeningly sweet couple,” as they’ve been called by friends, are planning to marry on July 4, 2009.

The cost: $30,000. A “modest” wedding in today’s world, according to Raposo.

They’re planning to invite about 275 guests to their wedding at the Unitarian Church in Fairhaven, followed by a reception at the Hawthorne Country Club in Dartmouth. The honeymoon? Possibly St. Lucia (depending on the cost), since both plan to pursue masters degrees.

Ramos and Raposo have lots of family members and friends to invite to the wedding due to their multiple jobs. Ramos is the city’s wellness coordinator and also works as a bartender at White’s of Westport. Raposo is the diversity development specialist for Girl Scouts and a job placement coordinator at Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School. She also serves beverages via golf cart at LeBaron Hills Country Club in Lakeville.

Both volunteer for various organizations in the community — they met through their association with the BOLD Coalition, which inspires young people to build a drug free life.

“We started collecting cans to clean up the neighborhood.” (The couple just bought a house in Fall River a few months ago.) “Then we thought we might be able to pay for our cake,” Ramos said.

Then, they had a new idea.

Raposo wants to hire a band for the wedding, at a cost of about $4,000, while Ramos said he’d be happy with a $600 disc jockey.

He told her that if she really wanted a band, she’d better start collecting more cans.

From there, the idea just popped.

Friends, family and co-workers started to contribute to the wedding fund. The couple even set up a separate e-mail account to schedule can and bottle pickups.

“The more people hear about it, the more cans,” Ramos said. “Now it’s spreading.”

They’ve even set a goal. They’re hoping to collect 500,000 cans and bottles.

“It’s insanely impossible,” laughed Ramos. “Imagine if we could? We’re go-getters.”

The couple got another wedding perk recently. They won a contest for a free $6,000 photography package from Leatherwood Wedding & Lifestyle Photography of Bristol, R.I. The couple received more than 500 e-mailed votes based on their essays and won the contest hands down.

Ramos and Raposo have been together for about two years. They met at BOLD Coalition meetings where Raposo was the events planning chairwoman and Ramos was the Coalition chairman. They’ve both since left the group.

Ramos said he noticed her immediately. Though she’s 26 and he’s 38, the age didn’t matter. He said: “It was her brain, her passion and intelligence” that really intrigued him. “And, she’s beautiful.”

Ramos thought: “There’s something really amazing about this woman.”

Raposo’s first thoughts of him? Well, he was wearing a red, plaid shirt. “Adorable,” she said, “but he needs some help with fashion.”

She described his as “strong and delicate” with the group, and said she admired his commitment.

Ramos and Raposo worked together for the coalition for over a year before it went any further. They started with about 20 members and brought it to some 200 members, often working until the wee hours to plan events.

“We really got to know each other,” Raposo said. “I had such a connection with him, but I really didn’t think it was going to blossom.”

One night, while driving home from an event, Ramos — with his heart beating and his hands sweaty — said to Raposo: “Do you feel the same way about me as I feel about you?”

“Life friends?,” Raposo said.

“No, definitely not friends,” he replied.

From there, the relationship took on a new depth.

“I can’t imagine my life without him,” Raposo said.

“I think together, we can do anything,” Ramos said.

Besides the benefit of raising money for their own wedding, the couple said it also pleases them to be able to do something good for the environment and the city — and that’s not all. For every can they collect, the pull tab is removed and donated to the Dialysis Center of Fall River on Weaver Street to help fund dialysis treatment for people in need

Their recipe for a good relationship? Having fun, being a team and having mutual respect.

Whether they reach their goal of collecting half a million cans or not, it’s clear that for this couple, dreams do come true.

“Our relationship is beyond description, beyond words,” Ramos said.

To donate cans or bottles (only those that can be recycled for 5 cents in Massachusetts, which excludes most water bottles) send the couple an e-mail at cansforkisses@yahoo.com. They will pick up donations. To read more about them, visit leatherwoodphotography.blogspot.com.

E-mail Deborah Allard at dallard@heraldnews.com.