Creative Wedding Fundraising

By Kristen Castillo

December 9, 2013 5 min read

You've heard of celebrities and entrepreneurs funding creative projects through websites such as Kickstarter, but now many people are using these fundraising platforms to generate money for life events -- like weddings.

With the average price of a wedding costing more than $25,000, getting financial help makes sense. Using websites like GoFundMe and GoGetFunding, brides and grooms can raise money to pay for their wedding. Some couples want to hire a wedding photographer, others want to go on a nice honeymoon, and many simply want to pay down debt as they start their married life.

*Crowdfunding

The idea of crowdfunding -- asking friends, family members and strangers to donate to your cause -- is popular these days.

GoFundMe is the No. 1 crowdfunding website in the world for personal causes and life events, including weddings. Since the site launched in 2010, more than $135 million has been raised for what matters most to the site's users, such as personal donation campaigns, charity fundraising and "all-or-nothing" crowdfunding campaigns.

Here's how it works: Users set up a fund, establish fundraising goals and share the project with social media to spread the word and encourage donations.

GoFundMe collects a 5 percent fee from every donation, and GoGetFunding charges a 4 percent fee on every donation. These fees help cover business expenses for the crowdsourcing sites. PayPal handles the transactions and charges a 2.9 percent processing fee, plus 30 cents per deal.

*Bridal Fundraising

Every couple using these sites to crowdsource wedding funding has a different back story, financial goal and priority.

One couple realized they couldn't afford to host the wedding they wanted, so they set up a GoFundMe account for friends and family to contribute to the wedding. While the fundraising goal was $3,000, the couple raised more than $1,300, with donors helping pay for linens, cupcakes and chair rentals.

Another couple's friend started a wedding fund on GoFundMe to help pay for the bride and groom's wedding photographer. Friends donated more than $500 toward the $2,500 goal.

A bride and groom who set up a GoGetFunding account raised more than $1,200 for their wedding and honeymoon, thanks to 11 backers.

Other couples have extenuating circumstances, such as a sick or terminally ill bride or groom who still wish to experience a dream wedding.

*Right or Rude?

Crowdfunding is a great way to start a business and finance a project, but is it the right way to pay for a wedding?

"A host doesn't ask her guests to pay for the wedding," says Lizzie Post, co-author of "Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette 6th Edition," who explains, "The wedding is a party, and you just don't ask guests to pay their way to the party."

When planning a wedding, manners matter.

"When you start out planning a wedding, figure out a budget and stick to it," says Post. She reminds couples that it is not polite to "blatantly ask" others to pay for your event.

Some say crowdfunding is OK since guests often give money as a wedding gift, but etiquette experts say there's a distinction. With a wedding gift, brides and grooms are not outright asking for cash.

After all, guests could give the newlyweds silverware, towels or even a gift card. Plus it's common knowledge that wedding guests should give a gift at a wedding. But asking them to pay for the wedding "is not acceptable," says Post.

Rachel Miller, editorial director of Lover.ly, a wedding inspiration and e-commerce site says she hasn't heard of wedding guests "who are onboard with funding a couple's wedding," explaining guests have the mindset, "If you can't afford a wedding, go to city hall."

For couples that can't afford a reception but still want to celebrate, Miller suggests, "You could just have a small potluck wedding, or take volunteers up on their offer to help in some way."

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