Many people think of weddings as an opportunity to shower the bride and groom with gifts, but more and more couples are looking for a way to give back as well as receive. As you'll see from the examples below, however, giving back can mean giving back to the earth, giving your time or giving donations. Many of these ideas will not only make you feel good, they may also save you a little money.
Many museums and historical sites earn money for their operations and other expenses by renting out their locations for weddings. If you have a museum or library that you love, give them a call and see if they're available for rent. Getting married in a site like this will add a personal touch to your wedding and give back to a worthy institution. Make sure to ask the coordinator for the site if any part of your rental fee is tax-deductible.
Add a registry
Do you really need a new toaster oven? One of the easiest ways to use your wedding to "give back" is to set up a wedding registry with a local or national not-for-profit. You don't have to forgo all gifts, but giving some of your guests the option of making a donation in your honor will make everyone feel good. Make sure to talk to the not-for-profit ahead of time to ensure that they'll send you a list of donors so that you can write thank-you notes. Don't forget, many wedding website hosts (including OneWed.com) now let you add your registry info directly to your wedding website. Just FYI, donations made in your honor are tax-deductible for the giver, not for you.
Sustainable wedding favors
Sorry to break it to you, but no one really wants a candy bar with your picture on it. Sustainable wedding favors run the gamut, from donations to a charity to miniature plants to small cards with wildflowers or seeds that you can plant. Many charities also offer more traditional favors, but by purchasing the wedding favor through the charity, you also make a donation.
Donate the dress
As lovely as your dress is, your daughter will probably not wear it. Instead of leaving your gorgeous one-of-a-kind wedding dress hanging around for years, why not put it to good use? Many charities accept wedding dress donations, or you could sell it on eBay or Recycled Bride and pledge the money to your favorite charity. This is another idea that's tax-deductible.
In all likelihood, you won't be taking 15 centerpieces with you on your honeymoon. Many people like to let special guests or bridesmaids know that they're welcome to take a centerpiece home, while others prefer to have the flowers donated to a local hospital, nursing home or house of worship. Before making arrangements to have your flowers donated (or taken by guests), make sure to talk to your florist about any items she rented or loaned you. Depending on the laws of your city and state, you may also be able to donate un-served food to a food pantry. Ask your caterer if this is a possibility where you live.
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