Aid those less fortunate during a happy time
Creators News Service
You might think that brides and grooms would be in a panic about money, squeezing every penny to achieve a dream wedding with charity not even on their radar. But charitable giving is at the top of many couples' priority lists, since they're just so grateful to have each other.
Many couples may want to give, but aren't sure of where to start. Here are the top ways that people are planning their weddings with a focus on giving back:
* Buying from charity-minded websites and companies: Brides and grooms do a lot of shopping for their big day, from flowers and favors to dresses and gifts. With thousands of shopping resources to choose from, they're looking for companies that give a portion to charity. Invitations4sale.com, an Illinois-based invitation and wedding supply website, gives a percentage of every purchase to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and has raised over $20,000 for the Walter Payton Cancer Foundation, the Michael J. Fox Parkinson's Foundation and other worthy causes.
At presentsforpurpose.com, you can purchase high-fashion apparel, jewelry, spa items, travel totes and a collection of items that can be embroidered and customized as gifts for the bridesmaids, parents and groomsmen. The company donates 10 percent to the charity of your choice.
At changingthepresent.org, the couple can give their bridal parties gifts of "plant 20 trees" ($22) or "adopt a tiger" ($40) as unique presents that are more appreciated than another monogrammed silver flask.
It's quite easy to find websites and stores that donate a percent of purchases to charity, so couples should check out every charity's legitimacy through charitynavigator.com to be sure their donations are going through sanctioned organizations.
* Charitable donations in lieu of favors: Instead of giving out little silver frames, wedding couples are opting for a pretty printed card -- sometimes with a candy attached -- announcing that they've made a donation in their guests' honor to their favorite charity. Guests are happy to get the sweet treat, and to know that their presence at the wedding has prompted a donation to a great cause.
Through the I Do Foundation, the couple can make their tax-deductible donation targeted toward their favorite charity or charities. The site also provides pretty printed cards for guests at the wedding.
Another option is for the couple to choose their own local charitable groups, which may include a volunteer fire department, a school or an animal shelter, and then make their donation directly to the group.
As an alternative to sweets, couples might also provide the "Live Strong" bracelets made famous by Lance Armstrong, or another message bracelet of their choice.
* Create a charitable registry: If guests are going to purchase gifts for the couple's engagement, bridal showers and wedding, why not turn those purchases into a giving back buy? At idofoundation.org, couples can create their own charitable registry, where guests can "shop" through the couple's list of favorite charities and donate to that cause. In an era of lower budgets, wedding guests love the fact that the amount they give is kept secret when the couple is notified of the donation.
If the couple prefers to register for china, linens, kitchen supplies and other traditional items at stores such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Williams-Sonoma and Macy's, they can sign on through sites like weddingchannel.com or idofoundation.org to have a percent of every purchase made through their registry donated to their chosen charity.
* Donating dresses: Bridesagainstbreastcancer.org is one of the top organizations that not only collects gently-worn wedding gowns but also conduct regular dress sales where brides-to-be can shop for their dream wedding gown, with a percent of their purchase going to the charity. I Do Foundation also collects used wedding gowns, with 20 percent of the profits earned from their consignment partner going to charity, and the donation may be tax-deductible as well. There are numerous organizations across the country, both on local and national levels, which will take your dress to help out less fortunate brides.
* Charitable collections at wedding events: With everyone gathering for bridal showers, hosts are asking guests to bring something for charity instead of bringing items for the bride. Some popular options include books and DVDs to send to military troops overseas, pet food and toys for donation to an animal shelter and canned foods, jackets and school supplies for needy kids. Guests love participating in these events with a charitable angle and the wedding couple starts off their married life with a nice dose of good karma.
Sharon Naylor is the author of The Bride's Survival Guide, www.sharonnaylor.net.