Your wedding is likely one of the most significant events you'll ever host. Why not use all that purchasing power for a charitable cause and seize this as an opportunity to do some extra good? These days, there are many simple ways to give back, from donating flowers to serving charitable wine or including nonprofit donations on your registry.
Your Big Day is about sharing your love story, and for some couples, your values are a big part of that. We're not saying to get preachy and tell others how to live their lives. We're talking about spreading the love with small acts of kindness that don't take much effort but can be meaningful to someone else.
When planning your budget and hiring vendors, think about what is most important to you. For example, if you want to support women or minority-owned businesses, many wedding sites now have filters to help you find vendors with these goals in mind. No matter how you choose to incorporate giving back into your wedding day, every little bit counts. Here are 10 ways to make a difference and kick off this next chapter of your life in a beautiful and meaningful way.
Photo Credit: Markus Spiske, Unsplash
1. Choose a Nonprofit Venue
If you are looking to host your Big Day at a venue that speaks to your beliefs or supports the local community, there are no better places to check out than your local nonprofits. This can be your favorite charitable headquarters like the rooftop at nonprofit God's Love We Deliver or a nonprofit thrift or bookstore similar to Housing Works.
Many cultural institutions took a big hit during the pandemic; if this is important to you, you can scope out local museums, landmarks, sculpture gardens, or even a gallery featuring underrepresented artists. The majority of these spots have their own caterers and event managers. Even better, your booking not only helps support a nonprofit, but it might include a tax-deductible membership too.
2. Purchase with Purpose
When it comes to giving back at your wedding, it's not only what and who you buy from that matters but even how you make those purchases can leave an impact. It's always a good idea to designate a credit card for your wedding expenses. Large charitable organizations like the World Wildlife Fund and Susan G. Komen issue affinity cards that make it easy to donate a percentage of what you spend.
The Charity Charge World Mastercard is one of our favorite credit cards for giving back. It allows you to donate 1% of all of your purchases to three charities of your choice. Other credit card options that make it easy to donate include the U.S. Bank FlexPerks, Chase Freedom Flex card, Citi DoubleCash card, and the Defenders of Wildlife card. If tracking your carbon footprint is important to you, check out the Aspiration Zero card that carbon offsets emissions tracked from your purchases.
Another way to put your spending to good use is by visiting websites or using apps that automatically donate a percentage to charity. Planning to give your bridesmaids gifts for all their help? Double your good deeds by using your affinity card at these sites:
Photo Credit: Ron Lach, Pexels
3. Select Vendors with Shared Values
It's so important to be intentional with the vendors you pick for your wedding day. They're the ones executing your vision, so it's nice when you share similar values. Before you sign a contract, check out if they have any philanthropic ties or are involved in the local community. Lean on your planner for recommendations if, for example, you are looking for diverse businesses or eco-conscious ones that use sustainable packaging.
Once you've found a vendor aligned with your own ideals, see if they have other friends in the wedding industry. Word of mouth is a great way to pick the perfect team for your wedding. But if you're having a destination wedding or doing most of your planning online, not to worry. Many sites like WeddingWire or The Knot now include filters so you can easily find veteran, women, and minority-owned businesses.
Sometimes it'll surprise you how a vendor can incorporate giving back into their businesses. We've seen caterers supporting local farmers, photographers giving complimentary lessons to at-risk students, and bakeries hosting free food pantries on-site. It never hurts to ask questions and find out more about the businesses you are hiring.
4. Give Back with Your Wedding Registry:
If you've been living together for years and already have a ton of household items, this next idea might be for you. Rather than keeping your wedding registry traditional with fine china and baking sets, turn your registry into a charitable one. You can list donations for causes close to your heart or select items from socially conscious retailers who are already giving back. An excellent resource for this is the certified B Corp directory, where you can find retailers who are already vetted for their good efforts.
If you're ready to go all in and create a registry that is just for charity, there are several sites aimed at doing just that. Check out these charitable registries:
Photo Credit: Ron Lach, Pexels
5. Volunteer in Celebration of Your Big Day
Wedding events are a great time to bond with friends and family before your Big Day. Rather than your typical brunch or Vegas getaway, think about arranging a group volunteer effort. If there's a local animal shelter or food pantry you are already active with, do them a huge favor and get more helping hands involved. If environmental causes are what you care about, maybe a local beach clean-up effort is a better idea for you. You could participate in a charitable walk or even help build a house for the homeless with Habitat for Humanity. Check out VolunteerMatch.org for more volunteerism ideas.
Don't think that volunteering means you'll have a boring time. We've seen groups have fun painting murals, arranging flowers for nursing homes, or cooking meals for the ill. It usually leaves you feeling grateful and closer to each other than ever before. You can even bring this idea with you on your honeymoon and take a discounted volunteer vacation to save, do some good, and travel.
Looking for something a bit more hands-off but still impactful? Ask guests at more traditional wedding events to bring food cans along and donate them to a pantry afterward. Or, donate frequent flyer miles from your honeymoon to HeroMiles, a nonprofit that purchases airfare for wounded warriors and their families.
6. Pick Stationery that Shows You Care
These days, even your wedding stationery can give back. When using a company like Cards for Causes, you are not just sending out thank-you cards after the wedding; you're also donating 20% to one of over 500 charities. If supporting emerging artists is important to you, Minted gives a portion of every sale to independent artists who create the designs you select.
Prefer more sustainable options? Digital invites from Greenvelope are a great choice. The company has partnered with the National Forest Foundation, Mountains to Sound, the National Park Foundation, and 1% for the Planet, so your purchase helps make a difference. Paper Culture is another great option for your wedding invites; every order plants a tree, and all products are printed on 100% recycled paper.
Photo Credit: Yukiko Kanada, Unsplash
7. Make Thoughtful Food & Beverage Choices
When we heard about OneHope vintners, we realized the options for incorporating charity into your wedding day truly are endless. This amazing company helps you donate to a variety of charities with every pour. They'll even coordinate with your venue's distributor, so it doesn't need to be a BYO type of space for this idea to work. We'll definitely cheers to that!
Now that drinks are covered, on to the food. Weddings are known for their lavish spreads, but letting food go to waste is always a downer. Instead, speak to your caterer about donating leftovers. Since food can spoil and comes with a lot of safety regulations, it's best to lean on the professionals, like your venue, caterer, and wedding planner, for this one. You might even find out they already coordinate with a local food pantry.
If you are self-catering your wedding, call around to local shelters to see if you're able to meet their requirements and make sure they have storage capacity for fresh food. You'll want to have the food delivered quickly, so look into food runners who might already have relationships with food pantries. If this idea doesn't work out, talk to your venue or local Parks Department about using the leftovers for composting instead.
Photo Credit: Annie Spratt, Unsplash
8. Brighten Someone's Day with Wedding Flowers
There's something about wedding flowers that is magical – the colors, scents, and natural ambiance. While you can certainly give away some centerpieces to wedding guests, it's really a shame to let all that natural beauty go to waste. To help, several charitable organizations have cropped up that work alongside florists to donate your flowers to the elderly or sick. Not only is this an extraordinary act of kindness, but it also helps reduce waste.
These nonprofits partner with hospitals, nursing homes, women's shelters, homes for the developmentally disabled, and more. They repurpose your flowers into mini bouquets sure to bring a smile to the recipient's face. Talk to your florist or planner to figure out the logistics; some organizations will even pick up flowers from your venue and take it from there. Here are some of our favorite charities for donating your wedding flowers:
9. Do Your Favorite Charity a Favor
This is one of the most common ways to get charitable at your wedding, especially these days when traditional favors are often left behind. Leave a wooden heart or note at each seat letting your guest know a donation has been made in their name. If a loved one is battling an illness, a donation to a charity like the American Cancer Society or Wish Upon a Wedding can be a fantastic way to honor them.
Steer clear of political or controversial organizations, instead choose a meaningful charity, and share the reasons behind your donation with guests. Also, be sure not to share any of your guest's personal information when contributing on their behalf.
Photo Credit: Pexels
10. Give Your Wedding Attire New Life
There is no need to pack up your gorgeous wedding dress in a box. Plenty of brides would be thrilled to give your threads a second life! Veils, shoes, and other accessories are usually appreciated too. Feel free to go the extra mile and encourage bridesmaids to follow your lead by donating their own dresses too.
Support your community while helping make someone's dream wedding become a reality by donating to a local thrift store. Looking to spread the love even further? Don't worry, bride, we've got some sites where you can send your dress to someone in need: