• Elise Hofer Shaw

Charitably Ever After: 7 Ways to Make Your Wedding a Philanthropic Affair

Charitably Ever After

7 Ways to Make Your Wedding a Philanthropic Affair.

By Kelly Aiglon

Your wedding is all about you. But what if you shared the love? Vow to give back to the greater good on your big day by adding an element of philanthropy.

There are easy ways to involve nonprofit organizations in your wedding planning, and donate meaningful items from your reception and ceremony to those that need it most.

Follow these tips and you’ll not only say “I do” — you’ll build a better world.

Make donations your gift of choice. Tell your guests that instead of gifts you’d like them to donate to a charity. They’ll easily be able to give on your behalf via a charitable wedding registry, such as the I Do Foundation, which supports causes including children, youth, and families; community development; education; environment; health; and social justice. There’s also Honeyfund, an online portal through which guests can make monetary contributions to your honeymoon or mortgage, or feed a “charity registry” to offer dollars to a select cause.

Shop for (and donate!) your dress consciously. Dresses are sentimental. But there’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve helped others. When shopping for your dress, consider Bridal Boutique by New Name in Wheaton; it sells gently used dresses — and 100% of the profits go to benefit women that have been trafficked or exploited in the Chicago area. Or, after the big day, consider donating your dress to Brides Across America, which provides gowns to military and first responder brides that are suffering financial hardship.

Turn your wedding party into philanthropists. Instead of a bachelorette or bachelor party, do a group volunteer activity. Organizations like Chicago Cares and One Good Deed Chicago match you with volunteer opportunities of interest, while the national network Volunteer Match will put you in touch with organizations near you that are calling for help.

Pay it forward with food and drinks. Make every toast count. Consider ordering from One Hope Wine. The Napa Valley winery makes a charitable donation with every bottle sold. Funds have gone to building schools in Guatemala to breast cancer research. Any leftover food can go to the greater good, too; donate any untouched food to a homeless shelter (make sure to call the shelter first to find out about any rules or restrictions). You can also consider adding some extra gratuity and specify that it goes to any employees in need.

Skip favors. Spread kindness. Wedding favors are a traditional way to thank your guests for coming. But they can easily get overlooked or even left on the table. Give them an intangible gift they can feel good about. Leave a card at each setting indicating that their wedding favor will be a donation to charity. Consider timely causes, such as COVID-19 vaccine research or Black Lives Matter organizations.

Volun-tour on your honeymoon. Mix relaxation and exploration with volunteerism. Check out Honeymoon Volunteers for ideas, which range from building homes in underserved communities to contributing to wildlife preservation to contributing to organic farming efforts. For another take on charitable vacationing, check out Kind Traveler, a booking engine that allows you to select a destination and book accommodations with hotels that participate in a "give and get" program (you donate, say, $10 nightly to a local charity and the hotel gives you special offers and incentives).

Make thank-you’s count. Keep the good vibes going even after your honeymoon. Order thank-you cards through Cards for Causes, which donates 20% of the revenue from your order to the charity of your choice.

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