The blessed day is coming up and you’re planning a big bash, but it’s a tough economy and a rough world out there for many fighting life-threatening disease or fighting back from Mother Nature’s blows and perhaps you’re feeling bad about your good fortune. One solution, use your wedding as a venue to make a difference. Green weddings are all the rage right now, but how about creating a giving attitude in your receiving line?
There are countless ways to turn your cause for celebration into a fundraiser for your favorite charity or a loving way to pay tribute to a family member. Here are a few ideas:
• Charity/Gift registry – trade that china pattern in for charity! There are two ways of creating a gift registry that gives back. This is a great option for couples who’ve lived together (or own their own) for a while and don’t need another toaster.
o Option A: create a typical registry through an organization like I Do Foundation (www.idofoundation.org) that will donate a percentage of all the items purchased from your favorite department stores to your preferred charity. Or choose to have guests donate their entire gift; creating dual registries will help guests who really want to buy YOU something.
o Option B: create a registry that allows guests to give a specific item directly to the charity in your name. Heifer International (www.heifer.org) is a great choice if you’d like to give something other than money as it allows you and your guests to choose gifts of livestock and sustainability training to a poverty-stricken family. It’s so fun to register for a flock of chicks or a llama, and your guests will be giving a hand up to families the world over.
• Centerpieces – remember family members by a single rose in a vase with a card noting your donation to a charity in their honor, such as The National Breast Cancer Foundation (www.nationalbreastcancer.org), The American Heart Association (www.americanheart.org), or The American Red Cross (www.redcross.org). Pay homage to several loved ones by donating to a unique charity for each table and placing a small, framed photo next to the vase.
• Favors – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (www.stjude.org) will print scrolls or bookmarks personalized with your names and wedding date so your guests have a memento. Similarly, the ASPCA (www.aspca.org) prints place cards.
• Honeymoon – yes, even your vacation can be socially-responsible. Think about donating a day from your honeymoon to volunteer at your destination and participating in something bigger than yourselves is a great way to cement your marriage bond. Check out Charity Guide (www.charityguide.org) or i-to-i (www.i-to-i.com) to get involved with reputable volunteer organizations all over the world.
Whether you collect funds for a charity, have a portion of purchases go towards charity, or donate your time, it is a good idea to let guests know the sum total they helped raise or the effect of their generosity and yours on individuals in need. This can be tied in with your thank you cards and also added as an update to your wedding website to let guests know what a difference they’ve helped you to make and how much you appreciate it.