Charitable weddings: Using your wedding for good

Our extra wedding favors
Buttons from the charities our wedding aided.
Over on Offbeat Home, two sisters, Amy and Mistie, wrote an awesome guest post on how you can use your powers — and parties — for good.

This is an idea that's near and dear to my heart as Aaron and I used our shark-themed wedding as a platform to raise awareness about shark finning. We included shark finning information packets in people's welcome bags, and ALL the money we spent on our wedding favors (shark fin soaps!) went to aid in the Sea Shepard Preservation Society's fight against shark finning.

I also immediately thought of other offbeat weddings that have added a charitable element to their parties:

Monica&Eric333
Photo by Photograph Photograph
In lieu of clinking glasses to get Monica and Eric to kiss, at this wedding, you donated money to City of Hope. Monica explained their great success…

We raised $271. We didn't expect the mad stampede of guests waving dollar bills when we made the announcement. Boy did we have numb lips when it was over! ;) We have such awesome people in our lives!
white knots
Photo by Keira Lemonis
As mentioned in 10 ways to show your support of marriage equality at your wedding, Tribe member Channamasala set out a White Knot table to raise awareness to the cause of marriage equality.

lottedavidwed-169
Photo by Lauren McGlynn
Lotte & David used their wedding for good:

Like all good fêtes, ours had a cause. David and I decided to use the wedding to raise funds for The SAFE Foundation, a charity run by friends of ours. The proceeds from our fête games, our grand raffle, and the gifts from generous friends helped us raise over £1600 to support people living in poverty around the world.

This is pretty clever… After their wedding, Sarah and Chris turned their potluck wedding menu into a recipe book benefiting a charity close to their hearts. Sarah explained,

I decided to sell the booklet in aid of SANDS [The Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity]. Soon local paper and radio picked up the Handfasting Recipe Book story, and we have raised over £200. Recipe books have gone all over Europe, Japan, the USA, and Canada.

So, as you can see: we've featured charitable weddings before, but head over to Offbeat Home for even more awesome inspiration.

  1. I love these ideas. For my bachelorette party, my favorite ladies and I will be participating in a fundraising walk for a rape crisis center in the area – I was really excited that the timing worked out, and I'm so glad that I have the opportunity to support such a great organization as party of my celebration. :)

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  2. Our wedding is on Saturday and we have asked our guests not to buy gifts but to donate to The Sophie Lancaster Foundation. We've raised a fair bit already!

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  3. omg, I DID this. Instead of a bridal shower I had my sister throw me a bird-al shower where guests were asked to bring a gift for a parrot rescue where my wife and I volunteer. Everyone won, we gave about $200 in cash plus about $100 in stuff to the parrots AND we had an awesome parrot themed party AND I didn't have to open any gifts of underwear in front of my grandma.

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    • love this idea! I bet the decor was super cute and love the contribution to bird rescue. I don't have a bird, but I love em, I am just not up to commitment that I know the kinds of birds I like come with. So I do the responsible thing, and enjoy the birds of others!

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  4. These are all great ideas. Another route is to make giving a part of your rental – for example, we're having our wedding at a thrift bookstore/cafe. The rental cost for private parties benefits the store's larger counterpart, Housing Works, a nonprofit organization that works to end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS.

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  5. We are doing this also. Instead of favors, we're donating to the Human Rights Campaign and the Cancer Society in honor of our guests.

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    • I like this idea, of donating on behalf of guests — a nice twist on asking guests to donate on behalf of the couple.

      :)

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  6. I love this trend! We just made this decision this week to switch from our first idea to something charitable after some bad news came for FH's sister. We are giving out bookmarks from the Canadian Cancer Society as our favors. $2 each and the money goes to them. His sister is fighting breast cancer, my father died a few years ago from lymphoma, and I don't think anyone anywhere has been untouched by cancer.
    https://secure2.convio.net/cco/site/Ecommerce/1656915678?VIEW_PRODUCT=true&product_id=2481&store_id=18561

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  7. Fantastic. At a wedding we went to last year, the couple made a donatation in lieu of favors to a charity close to their hearts. I'm blatantly stealing this idea and we intend to have a charitable registry (not sure, yet, if that will be the only option).

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    • Perhaps a small registry for those who do want to get you that blender? If you use the I Do Foundation, you can link your traditional registry to their system and a certain percentage is donated to the charities you choose.
      PS: There are about a zillion charities on I Do Foundation and you can have more than one! This meant that my sweetie and I could choose things that were meaningful to both of us- stopping homelessness for him, getting books to kids for me.

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  8. How funny, I was just looking at catering options provided by some local not-for-profits. All the profit they make goes back to the charity (one helps refugees, the other does a lot of homelessness work). Many of the cooks and waitstaff are people assisted by the charity, so you're also providing them with employment or work experience.

    Personally what I saw looked great and the prices are very reasonable! So, maybe that could be a good way for people to use their wedding for good, while saving themselves on catering expenses too.

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    • wonderful example of the thoughtful consumption I discuss below

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  9. I was actually the beneficiary of a charitable wedding-I teach in DC and created a Donors Choose project to get books for my students. A couple listed Donors Choose as an alternative to getting them wedding presents, and two of their guests donated to my project! My students love the books, and I can't wait to pass along this idea during my wedding.

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  10. I deeply disagree with the wedding-as-fundraiser idea, because I think donations should be a private thing.

    First, I think donating in someone else's name is asking for credit for your donations. I don't need to know to whom you donate, I don't need to know how much you donated, and I certainly don't need you to saddle me with the obligation to feel gratitude for you donating "for me". I am a grown woman who is fully capable of donating for myself. I don't need anyone to donate for me. Not to mention how presumptuous it is to donate in someone's name when you don't know for certain if they support the cause.

    Second, I think that soliciting donations at your wedding is asking your guests to justify their presence. You're telling them that they're not important enough to you that you want them in your presence just because you love them and they love you. Instead, they need to benefit a third party.

    The soapbox wedding is also deeply icky. I do agree that marriage equality is important, but I have many relatives who believe that the greatest civil rights violation in history is the oppression of the unborn, and I would be so uncomfortable if I went to a wedding that was all about removing a woman's right to choose. "Yeah," you might argue, "but the difference is that we're RIGHT."

    Perhaps using your wedding "for good" feels like buying carbon credits—you're offsetting the extravagance of the wedding by funneling money to good places. But it's OK to have a celebration just be about the fact that this person loves that person, and they love their community, and their community loves them. And donations should be part of your everyday life, not something you do to offset something else. You don't need credit, and you don't need to obligate anyone else.

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    • I work at a small local non-profit helping feed people in need. 95% of our operation is covered by supporters and local donations. I am also fortunate enough to see donations come in through events like wedding where they donate to a local cause. Thank you to everyone who considers this as an option. It truly does not go unnoticed by these charities and the people/cause they support.

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  11. This is such a great post filled with wonderful ideas! Thank you for sharing- I very much enjoyed reading and getting ideas.

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  12. We are asking guests to donate to their local Humane Society instead of presents. I know some people will insist on getting us something but I'm hoping the majority of our family and friends donate money to charity instead. We love animals so much and anything we can do to give back a little bit will be a better gift then a toaster.

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  13. I wouldn't say that I 100 percent agree with Juniper but ze has a point. I think that all of these ideas come from a place of love and kindness. However I don't think that your wedding has to be about donating to charity. For my partner and I, we want our money to go towards the local community and small vendors rather than large corporations whose policies we don't support. we are having the wedding at the local national park so that way our reception area fees go to help protect this important land to the community. I tried to buy things from small vendors on etsy to support small businesses. We are hiring friends and acquantences when possible to again support our communitiy. However if someone wants to use their wedding for a platform or as a way to give cash to charity- that is their perogrative and again I think it comes from a place of love. I just agree with Juniper that it is okay to have a party just about you and your love. To me thoughtful consumption is a way to give back.

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