It is a very admirable urge to use your wedding as a way to give back to your community. The bride who wishes to find ways to support a beloved charity is a refreshing break from the Me-First Bridezilla attitude that one sees more often than we would like. At the same time, a wedding is not a fundraiser, and it is important not to offend your guests in the name of doing a good deed. This is a look at ways that a couple can politely incorporate charitable donations into their wedding.
The frank reality is that people are not particularly crazy about receiving a card that says “”In lieu of a favor, a donation has been made in your name to _____””. They just aren’t. It is not really a gift for them, after all, but a gift for your favorite cause. No matter how worthy the cause may be, it is not more worthy than showing hospitality to your friends and family.
This does not mean, however, that it is impossible to work in a charitable donation as part of the wedding favors. The best way to do it is to find a charity that you support who sells something nice that you can give as favors. The Arbor Day Foundation, for instance, sells little live trees that you can give as favors, and the proceeds go to support their efforts. Many charities do something similar. This is the perfect solution, because it allows you to give money to your favorite cause, while also giving your guests a nifty little gift.
The second best way to handle the charitable donation / wedding favor combination is to give guests a small tangible item with a tag attached about the donation made in their name. As an example, each guest could receive a frosted sugar cookie in the shape of a pink ribbon, with a note attached that a donation has been made in their name to breast cancer research. The donation concept will be better accepted if guests understand the reason behind it, so definitely mention on the tag if the donation was made in the memory of someone. Even for those who are not crazy about the donation in lieu of favor concept, having the tangible item as part of the package should make it more acceptable.
There are some other interesting ways to incorporate charitable donations into your wedding plans behind the scenes. You could hire a volunteer from your favorite organization to provide a service at your wedding and then donate whatever you would have paid a professional to do perform that task. In some cases, they may be able to hook you up with a volunteer who has expertise in an area of need, such as bartending, but there are also other tasks – coat check attendant, for example – that could easily be done by any adult volunteer. By the way, there is no need to make a big fuss about your charitable donation (like printing a note about it in your programs, for instance); doing the good deed should be the motivation, not getting recognition for it.
Keep in mind that there are some things for which a charitable donation simply cannot be substituted. It is not going to fly to give make donations instead of giving bridesmaid gifts. Nor should you choose bridesmaid gifts just because the proceeds from the items go to charity, unless it is an item that you would have chosen anyway. It is wonderful to use the occasion of your wedding to do good when you can, just so long as you do not overlook the feelings of the people who are part of the wedding.