While flowers are the most commonly donated items after a wedding—nursing homes and cemeteries are often delighted to receive them—there are many other things you can do to be charitable on your wedding day. Donating leftover food from your caterer, passing on your wedding gown or bridesmaids' dresses to a company that sees they reach teens in need of prom dresses, and making a monetary contribution to the charity of your choice in lieu of favors are popular ideas, but those aren't your only options. We asked four wedding professionals for the new or unique ways they have seen couples donate—let their ideas inspire your own charitable choices.
Location, Location, Location
"Choose a non-profit venue for your wedding day! There are many venues that host weddings in order to support their efforts in the community. Consider venues like cultural centers, art museums, and churches," says Shannon Tarrant, founder of WeddingVenueMap. Botanical gardens and local and national parks may also give back to the surrounding area. If you're not sure, just ask!
"If you're having a destination wedding, research the local area and see what you can do to help out at a local charity nearby. Many communities in Mexico and the Caribbean islands have wonderful ways to give back in a hands-on environment, such as volunteering at a school or visiting a local animal shelter. These destinations, while beautiful tourist spots with a number of luxury resorts, are oftentimes poverty-stricken and appreciate hands-on volunteering," says Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group. If you were thinking about taking a "volunteer-moon," or a honeymoon that involves some form of volunteer work, consider getting all of your guests involved by planning a charitable activity for everyone to take part in instead.
Encourage Guests to Give Back
"The easiest and best way to be charitable on your wedding day is contributing to good causes and giving your guests the opportunity to do the same. The Good Beginning is a wonderful platform that allows charity as part of your registry," says José Rolón, José Rolón Events. This doesn't mean you can't register for items you want or need, too. "If you also wanted some tangible gifts to begin your newlywed life, you can encourage guests to contribute a small amount to a charity as part of their wedding gift to you."
Donate Through Your Vendors
"Purchase items for your wedding from companies that support charities or support artisans in less developed countries." Jamie Chang, owner and destination wedding planner at Mango Muse Events, says. Stocking your welcome bags with local wares that give back is one of the easiest and most meaningful ways to do this.