Weddings Illustrated – March 2015

5 Ways to Give Back on Your Wedding Day

By Kerry Shorr

Brides, rejoice: You have designed your dream wedding, now begin your “happily ever after” by paying it forward.

From flower recycling to charity registries, we round up five charitable ways to weave good deed-doing into your best day ever.


 LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Wedding at Eden Gardens State Park in Santa Rosa Beach

Eden Gardens State Park, Santa Rosa Beach | Photo: Aislinn Kate Photography

There may be hundreds of venues around The Sunshine State to stage a special celebration, but consider ones where philanthropy plays a leading role.

Nonprofit-managed parks, museums and aquariums offer stunning backdrops for special occasions. Pick one that will apply your event’s proceeds towards furthering its educational programs, social outreach, volunteerism, new acquisitions and more.

Charity- and donation-driven venues to consider: The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg; MOTE Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota; Florida Museum of National History in Gainesville; and Eden Gardens State Park in Santa Rosa Beach (pictured above).


OPEN A CHARITY REGISTRY

Photo via Big Daddy Seashell

Photo: Big Daddy Seashell

Instead of setting up a traditional gift registry, ask your guests to support a cause close to your heart.
The I Do Foundation helps marrieds-to-be establish an online charity registry so guests can make tax-deductible donations toward the bride and groom’s favorite charities.

Couples may opt to set a specific dollar amount or let their guests pick the monetary amount they prefer to give.


CREATE HAPPINESS WITH FLOWERS AND FOOD

Photo by Ashley Rose Photography

Photo: Ashley Rose Photography

Once your reception is over, arrange for flowers and food to be donated to assisted living facilities, clinics or shelters.

Flowers:

Flowers bestow many positive effects on their recipients—including the ability to heal—so try not to toss them away! Contact a flower recycling charity that will put your bouquets and table centerpieces to good use.

Based in West Palm Beach, Petals With Purpose fashions fresh bouquets from wedding florals, then delivers them to hospitals, nursing homes and shelters throughout Palm Beach County.

*For more about Petals With Purpose, click here.

Random Acts of Flowers (RAF), a “green” nonprofit in Pinellas County, delivers refurbished flower arrangements to convalescent homes, VA hospitals and healthcare facilities. Nearly 100 percent volunteer-driven, RAF is supported by private donations, grants and corporate sponsorships. To donate, click here.

Food:

First, check to see if your caterer will take comestibles to a local charity or rescue program. If not, contact a food bank, like Feeding South Florida or Second Harvest, and schedule to have the items picked up.

For more options, go to Florida Association of Food Banks to find a pantry in your area.


IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DRESS

 Photo by Moreland Photography

Photo: Moreland Photography

If you are not planning to store or repurpose your wedding gown, consider donating it to a good cause.

Brides For A Cause accepts and resells gently worn gowns and accessories. Monies are donated to its partner, Wish Upon A Wedding, which provides weddings for couples facing a terminal illness or life-altering circumstance.

Brides Against Breast Cancer accepts used dresses and donates all the profits to programs supporting cancer patients and their families.


DISTRIBUTE CHARITY WEDDING FAVORS

TisBest Charity Card

There are many creative wedding favor ideas—why not send loved ones home with a favor that will support their favorite cause?

TisBest puts a personal twist on giving to charities in lieu of wedding favors. Some guests aren’t comfortable having donations made in their name, because they may not support the charity the couple chooses. A TisBest gift card allows each guest to choose a charity that complements their personal beliefs.

How it works: Couples will customize a gift card, which can be emailed or printed and mailed (pictured above). Then, they select a monetary value and can add a personal message (optional).

When guests receive their cards, they log on to the TisBest website, survey the 350 organizations and apply the specified amount to the charity, or charities, of their choice.