It's Wedding Season!

What do you give a couple who has everything?  In the case of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the answer is a donation to charity.

Prince William & Kate Middleton Engagement Photo

Donating to charity in lieu of gifts is more and more common.  As people get married later in life, or are onto a second marriage, the need for household items is decreasing.  In fact, giving a gift of charity is so common that a social enterprise in the States, the I Do Foundation, was launched in 2002.  According to their website, the I Do Foundation, was started by a group of non-profit leaders in partnership with corporations.  The organization's mandate to is to, "link engaged couples with charitable choices for their wedding. By working closely with corporate and nonprofit partners, we have established a host of ways for couples to celebrate generouslyTM. In 2009, I Do joined forces with JustGive, the destination for online charitable givingTM to better serve the wedding sector."

As a guest to a wedding where gifts of charity are suggested, do you give to one of the organizations that the couple selected, or do you make a donation to your favourite organization?  Common etiquette suggests that you should donate to one of the charities that the happy couple has chosen.  There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Just like a gift off a registry, the charity that the couple selected is one that means something to them.
  2. The couple has taken the time to pick the charity(ies) that reflect their values and in some cases, also those of the guests.
  3. In some cases, the couple has also done due diligence on the organization and trusts that their guests' donation will be directed as instructed.

Last year I worked with some friends to identify three organizations that they suggested their guests direct their funds towards.  Over a glass (or two) of wine and dinner we discussed their charitable gift registry.  

  • What was the purpose of their family philanthropy,
  • What did they feel the charities reflected on them as a couple and on their guests (several of whom were quite active in the competitive racing and sporting circuit), and
  • What was the ultimate goal of the dollars raised

In the end the couple directed the funds from the cash bar to a local food-bank and gave a choice to their guests of supporting a sporting organization and local children's charity.

Other community-focused trends in the wedding industry include having a wedding that is environmentally conscious (power supplied by renewable energy, reusable centrepieces, locally sourced food and other products, off-setting travel carbon footprint, etc.).  Holding the event at a local community-based organization instead of a major wedding venue is another unique way to showcase the types of charities that you, as a couple support.

What are some of the wedding-charity partnerships that you have seen, planned, or attended?  What made them successful?  What would you do differently? Suggestions for other brides & grooms who are looking at including an aspect of community and charity in their wedding?