There are a few short moments after you get engaged of pure happy bliss. And then you start the actual wedding planning... and stress begins to flood your mind. That's how it was for me anyway and why I came to the conclusion that I'd have to tweak the process to successfully plan my wedding. I’ve never enjoyed being the center of attention and while I love weddings, I found myself unable to get excited about all the details when I not only saw the cost of such items but came to the realization that all of this was for one day... just for us.
I truly believe that a wedding should reflect the couple and while some couples chose to do that through flowers, décor, or their attire, we did this by making our wedding about more than just ourselves. We determined that the best way to have the wedding of our dreams would be to help others through the process both by raising awareness and money for various causes. What started as a crazy idea turned into an amazing process that motivated us to give more, introduced us to new non-profit organizations, and opened our eyes to all the ways other couples could give back just by committing to make selections that they would make anyway, that could do more for others.
Incorporating charity into weddings is a relatively new trend and I am excited to be able to share all the ways that you could bring a little good will into your day with little to no sacrifice on your part!
1. Wedding Registries: This is one of the most popular and well known ways to give back. In today’s world many couples already live together, have a house full of things, and really don’t need to register for new toasters and china. Organizations like the I Do Foundation allow you to not only to create charity registries but also to register with common retailers like Target who will donate a portion of any items bought through the I Do Foundation wedding registry, at no additional expense to your guests.
2. Wedding Vendors: Several vendors donate all or a portion of their proceeds to a charity. While some will make this public, others may not so it might be a good idea to ask wedding vendors when you meet with them. Shoot for Change is photography company that donates their proceeds to charity and over $56,000 has been raised so far. Imagine the impact that is having on non-profits!
3. Attire: Organizations like Brides Against Breast Cancer or dress shops like The Bridal Garden both sell wedding dresses and use part or all of the proceeds to help their respective causes. Grooms can get in on the action too by wearing Tom’s Shoes or seeking out companies and organizations that donate to charity- like these ties from Mountain and Sackett that benefit Autism research.
4. Goods: Even wine can benefit charity if you purchase from One Hope Wine! While it may take a little extra effort and research to find companies that use some of their funds for the good of others it will help counteract that buyer’s remorse just a bit!
5. Details: Consider raising awareness by using different charities as your table numbers, selecting colors based on specific charities (red for heart disease, blue for autism, purple for cystic fibrosis) and then tell your guests a little about it in the program. My bridesmaids and I wore red shoes to bring awareness to heart disease (the number one killer of women in this country) and we even asked female guests via our wedding invitation to do the same.
6. Paper goods: The I Do Foundation even has a partnership with an invitation company. They will donate a portion of your wedding invitation sales to charity at no extra cost to you.
7. Postage: The post office sells stamps that benefit various charities. Instead of opting for a wedding related stamp or something else, ask what cause related stamps they have on hand.
8. Flowers: Consider donating leftover wedding flowers to local nursing homes or hospitals. Some places have restrictions on what can be brought in so try to arrange this in advance.
9. Food: If you have leftover food consider arranging to drop off anything extra at a local homeless shelter.
10. Favors: Skip the little mementos with your wedding date one them, that let’s face it, no one really wants and opt to make a donation in your guests honor instead. Guests are not coming to your wedding to get a gift and I can promise you they won’t miss it! If you do want to give them something search for a little something from an organization that gives back like Emily’s Edibles or Truffles for a Cause.
12. Honeymoon: Yes, even your honeymoon can be charitable! A portion of travel booked through the I Do Foundation will go to charity and companies like Sandals even have their own non-profit organizations so you know that while it may not translate directly, they do use some of their profits for good in the community that their resorts are located in.
Overall with just a slight shift in perspective and perhaps a bit more effort, you can bring charity into several aspects of your wedding. The most important thing you can do is simply ask if your vendors make any charitable contributions from their proceeds or even if they are actively involved with any charities. You just may inspire them to give back too! In the end the day will be beautiful, guests will have an amazing time, you will be married and you will know that along the way you helped change the lives of others.