One of the biggest, most important days in your life can also be the most expensive.
According to the Real Weddings Study, an annual survey of wedding expenses and trends, the average American wedding now costs more than $28,000, not including the honeymoon to follow. While many other areas of the economy saw a decline in the last few years, an additional survey by XO Group, parent company of The Knot and WeddingChannel.com, found that wedding spending is rising faster than a tossed bouquet.
If you have had the thought that it might be nice for that chunk of change toward something more useful than a huge one-day party, then you’re not alone. Even decorating diva Martha Stewart floated the idea of weddings having more of a social consciousness component.
Other planning sites and wedding blogs have also begun sharing stories of brides bucking the traditional wedding budget sheet to try new methods of helping others with their big day. Here are a few great ideas:
Kiss for Cash
Photo by Cameron Nordholm via Flickr
At Offbeat Bride, a site dedicated to fun, yet unconventional weddings, author Megan Finley shared how she and her now-husband both love sharks, so they incorporated a shark theme into their wedding. This soon went beyond nautical décor and favors to an intention to help the Sea Shepherd Preservation Society, which protects sharks. Rather than clinking glasses to require the couple to kiss, guests were asked to pledge $1 to the organization. By the end of the evening, the wedding raised $271!
Make it Easy to Give
Photo by HM Revenue & Customs via Flickr
Online retailers that offer online registration may allow you to add charity to your “wish list.” One of these is WeddingChannel.com, which offers two options—you can make a separate charity registry that includes several organizations you support, or designate a portion of proceeds spent on your gifts to go a charity of your choice.
Photo by babybizcakes via Flickr
Part of the fun of theme weddings is that it’s up to the bride how elaborate the theme will be carried out at the party. Animal lovers might consider a wildlife theme, by incorporating subtle animal prints in the decor. To tie it all together, offer a donation announcement in place of party favors, to let your guests know you’ve made a donation in their name to a wildlife conservation organization.
Share the Wealth
Photo by sgrace via Flickr
Rather than tossing uneaten food, make arrangements to have your party’s leftovers donated to a local food bank, soup kitchen or service organization. The I Do Foundation, a nonprofit that helps brides with charitable gifts, suggests checking with the organization first before dropping off a bunch of food due to possible laws about what types of food can be accepted, but labeled, unopened packages of certain foods will likely always be welcomed. Post a message at the reception encouraging guests to skip eating seconds or thirds so that local community members can benefit, beyond the partygoers.