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As you start wedding planning and, let’s be honest, life planning, you start to realize that you have everything you need right now, in this moment. You have your fiance, your best friends, your family, and an outpouring of love from your entire community. What better way to harness those feelings other than giving back to your community, nation, or even the world? The only way to really do this is through donating to a nonprofit who has that kind of reach and power. It can be a donation of your time or a donation of your money, but either way, you can make a serious impact, and it all started with your love and dedication.
Since a wedding is in your future, use this passion and love and let your guests be a part of it! Here are a few ideas to incorporate wedding donations into your big day:
Photo Credit: Brandon Kidd Photography
Creating the perfect registry can be fun and exciting, but also a little daunting. You’re either stepping into multiple department stores armed with a grocery list of items and a scanner in hand, or you’re at home creating an online registry through an affiliate website. However, as you start to look around your home you realize, you have most everything you need. Pots and Pans… check. Bed and couches… check. Utensils and china… check and check! With nothing to really add to your cart for guests to choose from, you shift your thought process from filling your future home to filling the needs and lives of others.
Guests like options and they like to feel like they’re contributing to your future. Choose 5-10 of your favorite nonprofits as well as an option for them to choose any nonprofit they value and have them donate in your honor. With this contribution, your guests are not only offering you and your husband/wife well wishes, but they are also significantly impacting a cause you or they care deeply about. Win win in our book!!
Photo Credit: Sean Cook Wedding Photography
Wedding Donations Instead of Wedding Favors
Flip the script! While wedding favors are cute and fun, most times they are used a couple of times and then, unfortunately, but inevitably, thrown in a junk drawer somewhere. Instead of using that budget for personalized m&m’s or custom beer koozies, donate to a cause that is bigger than just your big day! Here are some fun ideas to engage your guests and make sure they feel appreciated for being a part of your wedding and, more importantly, your new life as a couple:
- Give your guests the choice! Display different bowls that represent different nonprofits that you’ve chosen. Make sure to include their story and mission and why they are important to you and your spouse. Have an extra set of your guests name tags next to the bowls so every guest gets to choose which nonprofit they are impacting and drop their name in the bowl. At the end, you can donate a specified amount per guest to the nonprofit that they chose and do it in their name. Very memorable and special!
Photo Credit: Rebecca Yale Photography
- Say thank you! Make a unique “thank you” video that thanks your guests for coming to be a part of your day and shows a clip of what their attendance and their wedding favor meant to you and the nonprofit of your choosing. For example, one couple chose to plant a tree in honor of each guest at their wedding. That couple could send a video of them planting each tree after a short thank you message. Your guests will absolutely love this personalization and treasure it for years to come.
Photo Credit: Sophie Epton Photography
How to Word it to Your Guests
We should warn you, traditional weddings consider asking for any sort of gift on an invite as faux-pas. A better way would be to incorporate this wording under your “registry” tab on your customized wedding website. This offers it as an option, not a requirement.
- “Help us to celebrate the beginning of our lives together by donating to a cause that is bigger than us and that means the most to you or one that we have chosen to honor.”
- “In lieu of a registry or any gifts, we’re asking that you consider giving to a nonprofit that you love or one of the ones listed below that mean a lot to us.”
- If you have a cause that means a lot to you and you have a story to accompany it, definitely tell it! Stories are the best way for your guests to feel like they understand completely, and really have it resonate with them on a deeper level.
Photo Credit: Krista Fox
Wedding Donations After Your Big Day
Depending on where you’re located, these options can vary significantly. We’ve seen some of our brides do really awesome things with their leftovers, wedding supplies, and even key wedding details:
- Donate your wedding dress. Many nonprofits will take wedding dresses and do awesome things to give back to the community. Some nonprofits are giving your dress to the terminally ill or military wives in need. Others are reselling it and using the proceeds to go 100% back to important causes. The Angel Gown Program in particular, takes wedding gowns and turn them into beautiful burial gowns for infants that pass away in hospitals
- Donate your wedding flowers. Flowers can be a large expense and while they look beautiful the day of, they tend to go to waste the days after the wedding. Instead, find a local nonprofit that will reuse your flowers to give to a hospice, hospital, nursing home, youth organization or shelter.
- Donate your food. Guaranteed there will be leftovers. Use these leftovers for good and have someone (if not you) drop off the extras at the local food bank!
Photo Credit: Ingrid Lepan
Congratulations on not only planning an amazing day in your life but also making a difference in your community and a cause you deeply care about.