“Modern couples are beginning to question the consumer-focused version of weddings, seeking to create celebrations with greater meaning.” This is what I told the New York Times recently as we discussed ways to bring a charitable focus to weddings.
What excites me most about this wedding trend is that it’s you, the Bride Disrupted community, who is leading this change.
You are saying “NO! We don’t want to be sold your wasteful and shallow products simply because we’ve assumed the Facebook relationship status of “Engaged”. Our relationship deserves more than that!”
And it doesn’t end there. Even beyond the desire for a more meaningful wedding celebration is the growing desire to have a wedding that makes an impact by including a charitable aspect. Which, when you think about it, is really what the whole thing is about; celebrating love.
To help you to celebrate love, here are 4 simple ways to have a wedding that gives back.
1. Change the Focus
We’ve become accustomed to a wedding format that includes a ceremony, drinks, dinner, speeches, dancing, and more drinks. And while that may be your ideal way to spend your Saturday night celebrating with your friends, I know for a fact it’s not everyone’s idea of a good time (shocking, I know).
When you strip weddings down to their core, you realise that the purpose of weddings is to honour your relationship with some form of ceremony.
Just take a moment to really think about what that means exactly. It’s not that you have to have a party with 87 of your closest pals, that’s just how we typically view them in today’s society.
So what if you decided that, instead of the boozy dance party, you’d rather honour your commitment with a gesture, like a contribution of some kind?
I always encourage couples to start their wedding planning journey by first defining their purpose for why they’re even having a wedding in the first place. Then, with a purpose in hand, you can design your wedding celebration around that purpose.
If you decide that your wedding’s purpose is about building community for example, you could get together with your friends to complete a service project like building a community garden or creating a mural at your local community centre. You could host a potluck-style picnic for the reception and invite underprivileged or elderly community members to attend.
If your wedding’s purpose is about honoring nature and the Earth’s gifts, you could include a beach clean-up in your wedding activities.
2. Include a Giving Aspect
Beyond switching up the format of your wedding celebration, there are other ways you can you include charitable aspects into your wedding plans. If your home already looks like a West Elm catalog you could consider asking guests to donate to a charity of your choosing instead of registering for new homewares, just like Harry and Meghan.
Doreen from Denver asked their guests to donate to the I Have a Dream Foundation in lieu of gifts, their wedding “We raised about $3,000” she said.
You might like to look at your overall wedding budget to determine what the actual value of the items on your list. Perhaps those extra few dollars per person for thank you gifts don’t feel like they add too much value to each individual after all (I mean, who really needs a fridge magnet with your name on it?) or maybe a taxi home after the wedding rather than an expensive limo service feels more than sufficient.
Instead of spending on these items, scope out the price for your individually-boxed salted caramel macarons or shot glasses engraved with the wedding date and put that budget towards charitable wedding favors or a donation instead.
I worked with one couple who did just that. They left on each table a card that read, “In lieu of a thank you gift we’ve donated $800 to charity.”
3. Choose Thoughtful Partners
“Our afternoon tea is being catered by asylum seekers.” says Rebecca from Melbourne.
Whether it’s organisations like Rebecca’s caterers, ASRC Catering, venues like The Freedom Hub, social enterprise florists like Perennial Gatherings, or finding wedding vendors who pay fair wages, support the community through their own initiatives, or who are committed to sustainable practices in their business, choosing where you put your wedding budget can have benefits far beyond a delicious meal for you and your wedding guests.
Just remember, however you choose to include charitable wedding ideas in your wedding, every little bit counts. It doesn’t matter how big or how small, your actions make a difference!