You can say both “I do” and “I do good” on your wedding day.

Wedding days can feel magical. What if you could capture some of those good wishes and spread them to people in need?

While brides and grooms have been opting to make donations in lieu of giving favors for years, that’s just the start when it comes to ways to do good, give back, and save money on your wedding day.

  1. 1. Host honorably

    An outdoor wedding reception at a historic barn

    Museums, farms, historic sites and other non-profit venues often offer deals for receptions, and you can be assured that these organizations are putting your rental money to good use. Plus, these unique places are often bursting with character, history and stunning spaces. From the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle, Wash., to the Riverbed Farm in Anaheim, Calif., or the Housing Works Bookstore Café in New York, N.Y., these venues use money from wedding bookings to provide educational, empowering experiences for locals. Check sites like The Knot or Wedding Wire to see what organizations are available for weddings in your city.

  2. 2. Shower others during your shower

    Bride, groom and friends volunteering at Habitat for Humanity for wedding shower

    Rather than letting your friends shower you with an expensive party or two at a B&B or fancy restaurant, why not suggest a way to give back while also having a shower? Your guests could bring school supply donations to your engagement party, or invite them to volunteer time at a housing build during your bachelor(ette) weekend. You might also consider using your couples shower to set up a giving circle, where people pool money and choose a cause to support. Imagine timing your donation—and maybe a service project to reunite your friends—around your first anniversary.

  3. 3. “I do” some good with your registry

    A donation box at a wedding is labeled gifts for our giving circle.

    Ask any couple: They will say they got some amazing wedding gifts, and they didn’t miss the gifts on their registry that no one bought. So instead of registering for things you don’t need, give guests the option of donating to a charity of your choice. Sites like JustGive.org and CharityNavigator.org are great resources to research potentially worthy causes. Or, you can ask for funds for a socially responsible investment of your choosing.

  4. 4. Puppy love

    A bride in wedding dress holding a puppy

    What’s cuter, softer, cheaper and cuddlier than bouquets of flowers for your bridesmaids? A litter of puppies. Brides have started incorporating adoptable rescue dogs into their wedding photos and receptions, making for candid, natural pictures and plenty of smiles.1

     

    Work with a local animal shelter to raise awareness and money for its mission through the animals’ appearance. With love flowing through the air, the pups may even find a home before the cake is cut.

  5. 5. The power of flowers

    A wedding bouquet donated to a hospital

    Floral bouquets can set the scene at a reception. Sadly, flowers are often thrown away at night’s end. Give the flowers second life by arranging to donate them to a nursing home or hospital after your reception. They’ll bring even more joy after they travel from your wedding to people who weren’t expecting them.

    You could also use potted plants like boxwood topiaries, bougainvillea or hydrangeas to decorate your alter or tabletops. You can then gift the plants to the flower beds at the venue or church, or to a community garden.

  6. 6. (Re)dress

    Wedding dresses hanging on a rack

    Though it carries sentimental value, you’ll likely never wear your wedding dress again. And, even if your bridesmaids claim they love the dresses you picked for them, such gowns rarely get a second wearing. Consider donating your wedding dress to a charity like Brides for a Cause or Brides Across America. Bridesmaids can donate their dresses to Becca’s Closet or the Glass Slipper Project to provide a high school girl with a prom dress.

  7. 7. No morsel left behind

    People serving leftover wedding reception food at a homeless shelter

    You paid good money to ensure your guests were well-fed. But there will likely still be leftovers after the last dance. Ask your caterer if they know how you can donate your extra food, or reach out to a local shelter. There are likely health department rules to follow when packing up cooked food donations, so it’s a good idea to make a plan with the catering team in advance.

A wedding day is a celebration for the bride and groom, family and friends. You can spread the celebration farther than you imagined through a few thoughtful steps before the big event.

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