It is no surprise that a lot of money goes into weddings.
Typically tens of thousands of dollars...all for one day!
A lot of the items that you purchased for your wedding will never see the light of day again, and it seems like such a waste!
There are some incredible charities and programs out there that would be ever grateful for your wedding castoffs.
Here are a few ideas on how your wedding can be a way to give back to your community and the world.
1. Donate your Flower Arrangements
At the end of the wedding reception, most couples leave bouquets and arrangements behind either to be thrown away, or taken by the last remaining guests.
An incredibly sweet idea is to donate your flowers to a local nursing home or hospital.
It would not only bring joy to those that receive the flowers, but it will brighten your day as well!
There are many non-profit companies that provide this service.
Here in San Diego we are lucky to have Blooms from the Heart.
They will even pick up the bouquets and arrangements for you at the end of the reception!
2. Wedding Dress Donation
Instead of sealing up your wedding dress in a box and watching it collect dust in your attic, donate the dress to a cause that is meaningful to you!
There are so many great programs out there to consider.
Brides Against Breast Cancer has a Nationwide Tour of Gowns fundraiser.
Brides will be able to buy your hardly worn dress at a great price, and the funds go towards programs for cancer patients and their families.
You can also donate your gown (or any other wedding details) to the Goodwill so a bride without the means to afford a new gown will be able to enjoy it just as much as you did!
Goodwill employs those with disabilities, or a lack of education or job experience, or face employment challenges and gives them the skills they need to succeed.
So not only does your donation help the bride that purchases your dress, it also helps create jobs for those in need.
Brides for a Cause also accepts dress donations, and actually is partnered with a wedding charity called Wish Upon a Wedding (see below for more details).
3. Wish Upon a Wedding
Wish Upon a Wedding is a wonderful non-profit which provides weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness or serious challenges.
They take care of everything, from the venue, details and planning!
Get inspired by reading about some of their granted wishes.
Your monetary contribution will help give a couple their dream wedding!
Wish Upon a Wedding also supplies cards if you would prefer to donate in your guests' honor instead of providing wedding favors.
4. Donation in Guests' Name
If you're looking for an easy way of giving back to a charity near and dear to your heart, make a donation in your guests' name.
Your money goes to a great cause and your guests will be happy to be a part of such a generous gesture.
Your guests can even play an active role in where the donation can be made, as seen in the above photograph.
5. EWE Gives Back
Here at Estate Weddings and Events, we have recently launched a great new program called EWE Gives Back.
A portion of every wedding and event booked at one of our managed properties, we will donate a portion to charity.
We will donate 1% of your event bill to a charity of your choice (up to $250).
Some of our partners include Virgin Unite, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GirlUp, Kiva, and Charity: Water.
This is a great way to pay it forward!
Some wedding vendors and photographers will donate a portion of their proceeds to charity, be sure to ask your vendors if they do!
6. Donate your Hair
So you've grown your hair out nice and long for your wedding, but now that the wedding is over, you're looking for a change in hairstyle!
If you have at least 10 inches of hair to cut off, consider donating it to a program which creates wigs for children with long term medical hair loss.
Be sure to read all the details about donating, to be sure that your hair is eligible.
7. Location, location, location
If you haven't booked a location yet, there are venues such as historical homes, universities, museums, and nature preserves which are owned by a non-profit.
Your rental fee will go towards a good cause.
For example, all proceeds from renting the West Monitor Barn in Richmond, Vermont go towards funding Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) programs.
8. Service project Honeymoon or Shower
A lot of organizations need more hands on help.
If you're looking for a unique idea for an engagement party or bridal shower you can plan a service project.
Get all your friends to lend their hands to a cause near and dear to you.
If you can't forgo the party, you can always incorporate that into part of your project.
For example, if you live near the beach, you can plan a beach party or bonfire, but either before or after the festivities, you can organize a beach cleanup and pick up trash along the coastline.
Your honeymoon is another great excuse to travel and get involved in an international humanitarian effort.
From building houses for the poor in Africa, volunteering at a women's shelter, or even teaching English, there are so many possibilities.
There are many organizations right now that have VolunTourism packages for your volunteer vacation abroad.
Be sure to do your research, as some programs are much more ethical and helpful than others.
If donating your time to a good cause wasn't enough for you, another perk of volunteering during your honeymoon is that part of your trip would be tax deductible.
9. Gift Registry
In lieu of gifts, ask for your guests to donate the money that they would have spent on a gift, as a way of paying it forward.
Many couples already have all the essentials that they need before they get married, so instead of buying them a new toaster that they don't really need, your money could go to a charitable cause.
Some couples have even set up a scholarship fund in their name!
Visit I Do Foundation to learn more about how to "celebrate generously" and creating your charity registry.
10. Donate Leftover Food
While most states do not allow you to donate leftover food for liability reasons, call your local food bank to see if your state allows it.
If your state does not allow it, encourage your guests to take home some leftovers in a doggy bag so that it doesn't go to waste.
11. It is all in the Details
Need some other charitable ideas which can be incorporated into your wedding?
Toms Shoes for your wedding party.
Toms provides a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased.
One Hope Wine can be served at your bar.
50% of profits are donated to one of many reputable causes.
Choose to buy conflict free and fair trade jewelry for yourself and your fiancé.
Be sure to do your research if you are buying diamonds.
Make sure that they come from an ethical origin.