Let’s all be honest here: weddings cost a lot of money for all parties involved. The spending spree usually starts with the hefty purchase of the engagement ring, and continues beyond the honeymoon. For some people the excessive consumerism required to plan a wedding is something they could do without. Planning the “Wedding of the Year” doesn’t mean you have to be the biggest spender of the year. Of course, we all know there are some big cost involved, but many couples are now working to make their wedding less about consuming and more about charity. If you are looking for opportunities to use your special day to help improve the lives of those in your community, consider some of the ideas below as ways to hold a charitable wedding.
Consider Making Your Bachelor or Bachelorette Party a Volunteer Event.
Think about some of your favorite hobbies. In what ways can you and your bridal party use those interests or skills to serve others? Are you a huge animal lover or often get called “the dog whisperer”? The local animal shelters are always in need of volunteers to come out and help walk or spend time with lonely pups. Or maybe you have always wanted to help at your local food pantry, they usually need small volunteer groups to help organize their donations. Take your bridal party out for a few hours of community service and maybe continue the party with drinks later that night. It’s the perfect opportunity to blend helping your community with spending time with your favorite guys or gals.
Host a Food Drive During Your Engagement Party or Bridal Shower.
If you are already anticipating a massive influx of wedding gifts, why not dedicate your bridal shower or engagement party gifts to charity. Instead of having guest bring you a gift personally, maybe ask that they bring in a bag of canned goods or other non-perishable food items. You can also ask friends who may not have time to attend the entire shower to just drop by, say hello and drop off donations as well. Guests might be relieved to not have to choose the perfect gift to bring and have an even better time focusing on the actual event.
Use Amazon Smile When Making Wedding Purchases.
AmazonSmile is a great way to make sure that all your spending does some good too. AmazonSmile allows you to choose a charity and they in turn will donate a percentage of what you spend to your chosen organization. To go a step further, if you have an amazon wedding registry you can ask your guest to use your charity when shopping for your wedding gifts to ensure that even more donations make it their way.
Have Your Bridesmaids or Groomsmen Donate their Unwanted Wedding Attire to an “Operation Prom” Organization.
Okay, they don’t have to tell you upfront that they thought your choice of dress was hideous or that they can’t think of when they would ever wear it again, but making this an option for your special ladies or gentleman can help ease the uncomfortable thoughts they may have about the best way to get rid of that dress without you finding out. Give them the out they are so desperately seeking and let it go to some lucky teenage girl or boy who might not otherwise be able to afford a formal gown. There are several organizations out there that provide gently used evening attire to teenagers who are not able to afford a prom dress or tux on their own. A few to look into are “Project G.L.A.M,” “Operation Prom” and “Becca’s Closet.” You can either have your wedding party bring clothes to change into after the reception and leave it in an available closet or box, or arrange for drop off after the wedding. Either way, you make some gal or guy’s prom dreams come true.
Donate Leftover Wedding Food and Goodies to a Local Homeless Shelter or Food Pantry
Along with wedding attire, there is usually tons of leftover, unwanted food and wedding trinkets that family and friends of the bride and groom are practically begging guests to take as they walk out the door. Even with all the pleading, much of it gets left behind and unfortunately thrown away. A great way to prevent this from happening and help your family and friend “clean-up crew,” is to plan to donate all the leftover food to people who really need it. Local shelters and food pantries generally welcome all the help with extra food they can get. Just designate someone (or a few people) in advance to be the delivery guys and feel good knowing you saved a piece of a landfill and you helped feed your community at the same time.
In Lieu of Wedding Gifts, ask Guests for Donations
In a day and time when many couples already live together pre-marriage, the same old wedding registry gifts of housewares are just not needed anymore. If you have already outfitted your home the way you want, and have all you need, why not forego the registry altogether and have guests donate to a specific non-profit cause? There are a couple of ways to do this, but first choose a charity that is important to you as a couple. Then you can either have guests donate on their own, or use a website that allows you to create a “charity registry.” It’s a bit more like a “GoFundMe” than a Macy’s registry, but it gives you the opportunity to share the story of why you as a couple want to support this particular charity. You then share the link with guests, so they can donate.
Use Vendors Who Give Back
If you have been planning your celebration for even a short amount of time, you know that not all vendors are created equal. There are lots of reasons couples choose the vendors they want to work with, but a great way to help you decide is to find out if they are giving back. Many vendors are socially conscious and not only want to build their business, but they also want to build their communities. I give 10% of my profits each year to a non-profit that I choose based on it’s connections to my clients. This year, my beneficiary is the Girls and Boys Club of Lake Tahoe. You can read more about my current and former recipients here. Consider using a network of vendors like “Black Sheep Bride,” which I am a founding member of, to find charitable, like-minded wedding and event vendors, who you know are using some of your money for good works; after all, it may take a little bit of the sting out of the costs!