9 Ways Your Wedding Can Make A Difference
Weddings cost a lot. Even the most intimate and informal affair will strip your bank of at least a few thousand. According to Wedding Wire and even the CDC (yes, the Center for Disease Control even did statistics on the wedding industry!) state that the average cost of a wedding in the United States is now over $36K. This is not a super shocking fact, we have all heard this figure be preached from blogsite to social media group alike on a regular basis, but what you haven’t heard was the amount of weddings that take place in this country alone. The average number of marriages in the United States is well over 2 million, per year. Take a minute here to digest this information. That means that more than seventy-two billion dollars each year is being spent on decorations, attire, services, rentals, and food for a one day event. Seventy-two billion. That is alot of meals, clothes, and assistance that could be changing the lives of many Americans for the better.
Did you also know that one of the hardest things in planning a fundraiser is to actually get people to attend? A wedding has already crushed this obstacle and gives you a platform to truly bring awareness to a charity or foundation that you are passionate about. Plus there are ways this can be done without upsetting the look and feel of your wedding day. Try to incorporate at least one of the ideas below into your wedding planning. No matter how small, giving is giving and those who are truly in need will be appreciative of anything and everything.
1. Nonprofit Venue
A great way of giving back to your local community is by utilizing a nonprofit venue such as the Carnegie Science Center. Most museums and historical venues operate at least one charity. This means that your rental fee to use their location will go towards the charity they oversee or operate. Some venues rely solely on donations and volunteers in order to exist and survive so your wedding would truly be making a huge contribution to their cause.
Local Pittsburgh Nonprofit Venues:
- Beaver Station Cultural and Event Center
- The Andy Warhol Museum
- National Aviary
- Carnegie Science Center
- Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
Photo: Maria Angela Photography
2. The Gift of Giving
One thing I see in wedding groups on social media are brides asking what to put on their wedding registry. From brides not knowing what to put on their due to already having everything they need to those who are looking for unique alternatives to wedding registeries. Why not forfeit the serving platters and fine china that you will probably rarely ever use and instead replace these items with one simple request from your wedding guests to donate to a charity of your choice. This can be as easy as placing a single link onto your wedding website. Places such as JustGiving.com and So Kind Registry make this super easy to do! Especially with the company, So Kind Registry, which is a wishlist service that encourages the giving of unique gifts such as charitable donations, secondhand goods, time, volunteer help, and much more.
3. Dollar Dance
The dollar dance has been around for decades. It is a tradition that many still do to this day. If you are one of those couples who are planning on having a dollar dance at your wedding reception, why not put a new spin on this age old tradition? For those who are not familiar with the dollar dance, it is an opportunity for the bride and groom to earn money towards their new life together by having each guest donate money for a specified amount of time on the dance floor with either the bride or groom. Many couples will incorporate shots (liquor) as a thank you to each guest who donates. I have seen guests wait in lines that spanned the entire reception room for just 30 seconds with the bride or groom. Regardless if their goal in waiting was for the free shot or the opportunity to dance with the couple, it is still a great way to raise funds for a good cause.
Photo: Maria Angela Photography
4. Pouring For A Good Cause
Another great way to give back with your wedding is to have your bar stocked with a specific brand of wine. One Hope is a company that contributes 50% of the sale of their wine to a good cause. Some bottles support veterans while others support children or animals. If wine is not your thing or if you are wanting to have a variety of alcoholic beverages that support good causes, try these delicious beers: Barrel Trail Beer, Coronado Coastwise Session IPA, and Toast American Pale Ale. All give back a percentage of sales to caues such as preserving coastal life or other enivronmental nonprofits. Go a step further and select local Pennsylvania brews that give back to our beautiful state such as Headwaters by Victory Brewing Company. This brewery gives a portion of the sales to help protect the watersheds in Pennsylvania. Another local brewery that is trying to make a change one beer at a time is Weyerbacher Brewing Company. 5 cents from every pint of Last Chance IPA go to help animal rescue organizations. Now I will drink to that!
Want to go local? Check out North Country Brewing Company! Their Station 33 Firehouse Red benefits the Slippery Rock Volunteer Fire Department.
This is actually quite common and favorited among many brides and grooms. In lieu of giving favors to your guests, many are opting out of this and instead choosing a charity or cause and making a donation. Then at the wedding, they place little tented cards with information regarding their choice to replace favors with a donation as well as information on the charity that was chosen.
Another option is to choose favors that give back to a good cause. Lush handmade cosmetics sell amazing lotions and skin care that can be given as favors. Best part of this is that 100% of your purchase goes towards the charity printed on the product.
You can also check out Project 7.com. This company understood that people are going to buy things so why not make things that are already being purchased by consumers and use them to solve everyday problems around the world. Project 7 sells gourmet chewing gum and chewie candies. Celebrating ten years, they have successfully planted over 4.5 million trees, served over 4 million meals, provided 1.7 million hours of shelter to those in need, and helped 38,000 students get through anti-bullying programs.
The seven causes that they support through these sales are: Feeding the Hungry, Healing the Sick, Supporting those who Hope for Peace, Housing the Homeless, Quenching Those who Thirst, Teaching them Well, and Saving the Earth.
7. Frequent Flyer Miles
Instead of cashing in your frequent flyer miles for your honeymoon, donate them instead to Hero Miles. This company provides round-trip airline tickets to wounded, injured, and ill service members and/or their families. This is made possible thanks to the Fisher House Foundation, Department of Defense, and your donated miles.
8. Wedding Leftovers
Over 171,000 people face food insecurity in Allegheny County with 43,000 of them being children. This has risen hunger costs in PA to more than $6 billion dollars. That is a lot of people struggling to find their next meal. With so much food being thrown out at the end of a wedding, talk to your caterer to see if the leftovers can be donated to the below charities. Caterers simply post the donation to places like Meal Connect and the local food banks take care of the rest. You can also check out the local charity called 412 Food Rescue. This company donates food from restaurants, private donors, food distributors, small mom-and-pop stores, urban farms, and others alike. 412 Food Rescue ask that wedding couples contact them as early as possible so that they can connect with the hired wedding caterers to ensure that they are getting the most out of the donation. They will also provide signage to inform guests that you as a couple are promoting sustainability and the end of hunger as a part of your celebration.
IMPORTANT: There are regulations that apply to the kind of food that can be donated and how they need to be packaged. Talk to your caterer or call your local food bank prior to the event to find out what the requirements for preparation and drop-off are. Here are some national resources:
9. Floral Decor
Did you know that your wedding flowers can serve an important purpose as well? The Society of American Florists and Rutgers University researched the effects of flowers on human emotion and well-being. Their findings concluded that the mere presence of flowers can bring happiness and well-being beyond what naturally can occur. With so many who are facing battles such as illness or battling to survive homelessness or abuse, your flowers could truly have an impact on their emotional and mental well-being.
Shannon Haldeman, a recent wedding guest and Pittsburgh resident, recognized this and decided to create Scent With Love, a Pittsburgh-based project that collects and delivers arrangements to local charities and locations in need. Some of these locations include the Ronald McDonald House, Mario Lemieux Children’s Home, Bethlehem Haven Women’s Shelter, t he Family House’s of Oakland and Shadyside, Hillman Cancer Center, and several nursing homes around the city.