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How to Have a Charity Wedding

I love Twitter. Ok, I did not used to love Twitter, but I am finding it to be the absolute best resource for finding and “meeting” amazing people that know about all things wedding. One such person is Alicia McDonald, who has the blog entitled “The Charity Wedding”, and she is a bride to be herself as she is getting married on October 15th!

The title of her blog and her posts on both her blog and Twitter really spurned my thoughts about turning a wedding into an event to benefit others … what a wonderful idea! I asked Alicia if she would do a guest posting for me, which she graciously accepted even though I know that she is in the thick of things with her wedding being less than a month away!

Thank you so much, Alicia, for your heart for others and for sharing your thoughts with the readers of Hill City Bride.

How to Have a Charity Wedding

When I began planning my wedding, I ran into two major hurdles that transformed the way I thought about the whole process. The first dilemma: Cost. I probably don’t have to tell you that our economy is in a little slump right now. Families and businesses are struggling to stay afloat by counting pennies and downsizing galore.

What you might not know is the average cost of a wedding still hovers around $20,000 (even higher in major urban areas) with no major decline what so ever. Turns out when it comes to weddings, people are still spending big Benjamins. I know we all know that is a lot of money but just for laughs let’s break that down in to real world cash.  According to the Department of Labor, a family of four will spend about $5,300 on groceries per year. So essentially an average wedding could feed a family of four for just about four years.

The thought of a wedding budget extending for four years brings me to my second dilemma: All the money goes towards one day. You spend months planning, you lose sleep, you get majorly stressed and you spend debt inducing money all for a few hours of partying.

Somewhere along the way a wedding went from being a day to start a new life together to a day to see who could throw the best party. This is not to say that I do not understand or appreciate the importance of a wedding and all the associated festivities. I just thought there had to be another way. My solution: Make an effort to make the wedding about more than just us by giving back to people who really need it instead. To do this, we would give part of our budget to charity and we would raise both money and awareness for various organizations and charities all in an effort to get other couples to think about their weddings differently.

Sure we could have just not had a wedding at all and donated our entire budget to charity. However a wedding is a great opportunity to expose all of your family and friends to your efforts and spread the good.  Giving is contagious and inevitably you will make a greater impact if you can involve more people. While not everyone could structure their wedding as we have, there are several great options that make it possible for every couple to incorporate a little charity into their big day:

  • Vendor Selection: Check with your vendors and see if they support any charities or are active in the community. Essentially, by paying them, you are helping give back to what they put their resources into. Some vendors may even specifically designate a percentage of their sales to charity. If anything, you may inspire them to give back just by asking.

  • Research What You are Buying: Companies like One Hope Wine automatically donate a portion of their sales to charity. You planned to buy wine anyway, why not support a company who supports others.
  • Registries: There are two great options here, either ask for charity donations in lieu of gifts all together or offer it as an option. You can also register through a charity registry like I Do Foundation who has a partnership with various stores like Target. If you register on Target as you normally would and guests purchase gifts online through the I Do Foundation, Target will donate a percentage of what is bought to charity. There are no additional costs for your guests and you still get a kitchen full of supplies. Win, Win.

  • In addition I Do Foundation offers a partnership with a stationary company and even honeymoon travel. When you order or book through them, they again will donate part of that to charity at no cost to you.
  • Attire: Organizations like Brides Against Breast Cancer offer charity gown sales where people donate their wedding dresses and then they are cleaned and sold. Brides get a major discount on a barely used dress and all the proceeds go to fund breast cancer research. In addition many Etsy shops that sell jewelry and accessories donate portions of their sales to charity. You can even find charity shoes for the men offered through Converse and Tom’s Shoes.

  • Favors and gifts: 9 times out of 10, favors are junk that no one wants. You get them as part of obligation and if people even remember them, they likely end up in a junk drawer somewhere. Instead you could tell guests that you made a donation to charity in their name instead. No one will miss the little box of candy, trust me. You could do something similar for your attendant’s gifts or purchase gifts that support a cause, like from World of Good, which is a shop with handmade gifts from all over the world. Both the production of the products and the sale helps bring employment and dignity to developing countries.

  • Clean Up: After the wedding is over many places accept donations of leftover food and even the flowers. Call hospitals and nursing homes and offer to drop off the flowers to their patients. They would be delighted to receive them and they will get an extended life.

  • Trim the Fat: Downgrade your flowers, make a few things yourself, eliminate that extra dessert… in the end no one will notice, including you. Little efforts to cut back can make a big impact on a non-profit organization. Make an effort to cut your budget by just 5% and donate that to your favorite charity. People will be much more impressed by your thoughtfulness than by the personalized wine glasses you had to have. In addition, it can be a tax write off which might mean a lot to your parents who are footing the bill!

The best part of all this is that your wedding will continue to make an impact on the lives of others long after the day is over. In addition, you will feel really good about it instead of having major buyer’s remorse once the credit card bill rolls in.  Just a slight change in perspective can change lives and make your wedding day even more special.

Thank you again, Alicia … I really appreciate you taking the time to impart your wisdom to the HCB readers!! If you want to read some more of Alicia’s work (and to see some really cute ideas!!) go on over to her blog.

  • Alicia @CharityWedding - Yay!! Love it! It looks great with your pictures! Thank you so much for taking the time to bring some charity into other people’s weddings!

  • Hollie @ Thrifty in White - Alicia, you are positively inspirational! We’re thinking we might actually end up under budget…after reading this, I’m eager to donate the rest to a local charity. Thanks for all of these ideas 🙂

  • Caroline Hudson - The YWCA of Central Virginia offers Church Street Bridal – where you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars on a new dress – and the proceeds go to benefit the YW’s programs: two domestic violence shelters, women’s housing including transitional for homeless women and Ygyrl Leaders mentoring program.

  • Jennifer - Thanks, Caroline for your input. I totally agree on the premise of the YWCA … they are one of our advertisers, and I support their cause wholeheartedly!

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