What if you could have the wedding of your dreams and make that money do double duty as charity? Well, you can. With a little forethought and creativity you can make the byproduct of your wedding that you, as a couple, make the world better.
For those who may have accumulated enough stuff, a registry can seem like an indulgence. But Allie House, owner and coordinator of Weddings Now in Chicago, says you can visit the I Do Foundation online and allow guests to donate to your favorite charity in lieu of a gift.
One couple set up donations directly through the Humane Society Northwest Indiana in Gary, where the couple had adopted their puppy. They encouraged their wedding guests to donate to the shelter instead of providing them with gifts.
"How many toasters can you use? But we sure can use supplies here," says Betty Clayton, executive director. "You celebrate your wedding and then celebrate the fact that you're a very generous person. I think that'd be the best feeling in the world."
If you're a couple just starting out, then you may not want to give up those gifts. Make a small impact by replacing guest favors with a donation to a cause of your choice. Then leave a letter on each table to make it personal. "I don't think any guest comes to a wedding for the favors," House says.
One of the easiest ways to get the best of both worlds is to pick a venue whose proceeds do good. For example, Camp Blodgett in West Olive, Michigan, has a gorgeous facility with a private deck and beach, perfect for that Lake Michigan wedding. The money from rentals goes to support the camp's mission of providing poor, urban youth with a week of camping on the lake. "Without that income we could not offer the programs we do," says Jim Guilfoyle, executive director.
Wedding sites with charitable ties are also beautiful and unique, allowing your personality as a bride to shine a little brighter, says Judy Benjamin of Weddings Plus Events in St. Joseph, Michigan. She recommends the Krasl Art Center and Sarett Nature Center.
"The brides see the value in it," she says. "It's an interesting place in that you're giving back."