Weddings with a social conscience - why it's cool (& easy) to give back

I've watched weddings change and evolve markedly over the last few years. Consider, for example, the relatively new (and 1st world problem) of coordinating unplugged weddings (ie. a ban on the social media upload of guests photos). 

One of the trends that I have noticed and think is super cool, is the concept of giving back in the planning stages, the execution (there's got to be a better way to phrase that) and/or clean-up of a wedding. And the best part is that you don't need to be a paid-up member of Greenpeace, chain yourself to a heritage listed building or march in the streets to make a difference.

Here are some of the great new ways you can share the love of your special day with those less fortunate.

Register for charitable gifts

With a growing number of couples getting married well after they have already set up a home together, wedding gifts such as toasters, blenders and cutlery sets are just not cutting it (see what I did there) these days.

Online wedding registries have evolved and can fund anything and everything from your honeymoon travel to your home renovation plans. I think the most innovative, however, are the relatively new breed of wedding registry that directs money, that would have otherwise been spent on a wedding present, to a pre-nominated cause or charity of your choice.

It’s the ultimate feel-good present. It’s a win for your guests (because it’s online, easy, tax deductible and makes them feel good), a win for the charity (because, umm, they get a donation), a win for the environment (no ill-thought-through gifts that end up as landfill) and a win for you and your fiancé (for sooo many reasons, but also, what an awesome way to start your life together; by giving back).

Some of my favourites are Karma Currency (which encompasses LOTS of different causes and charities including Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Amnesty International, Australian Red Cross, Cancer Council Australia, National Breast Cancer Foundation, RSPCA Australia, Starlight Children’s Foundation, UNICEF Australia and many more!), Oxfam UnwrappedWorld Vision and World Wildlife Fund.

Donate your flowers 

Call your local nursing home or hospital and ask if you can donate your bouquets or centrepiece reception blooms after the big day and nominate a reliable friend or family member to get them from A to B.

Shop with those who care 

Check out Good Shop’s list of retailers (including airlines, jewelers and department stores) who donate a percentage of your purchase to
a good cause. There are also these companies who donate goods and/or a percentage of profits to needy people when you purchase from them. In Australia, there are initiatives like Yoobi, Thank you and NBCF.

Don’t waste your leftovers 

Arrange to have any extra food from your reception “rescued” to feed hungry people in your area. Find out more from Feeding America and OzHarvest.

Do something unwedding-y with your fiancé 

Make a date to spend some quality time together as volunteers. See or for ideas.

Give back on your honeymoon

There are lots of opportunities to help people, the environment or animals while you're on your honeymoon too. You could teach English as a foreign language, volunteer on a conservation holiday, or help children

Donate your dress 

Because you’ll never wear it again, right? After the big day, you can hand it (and your veil or tiara) over to Brides Across America to a military bride in need. Or donate your dress to Angel Gowns Australia who will use the material to make garments for stillborn babies. Angels Above Baby Gowns in Michigan and Angel Gowns by Michelle are all over the United States as well. St Vincent de Paul Society and Salvation Army in Australia also accept wedding gown donations.

Ask your bridesmaids if they would consider donating their dresses too

Organisations exist simply to distribute dresses to disadvantaged high school girls for their prom; the Glass Slipper Project in Chicago and The Princess Project are some great examples. Other similar groups are listed on Donation Town and in Australia, Give Now is a great resource. 


If you know of any other great ways to give back or an organisation that needs a shout out, please let me know in the comments.

Celebrant Camille Abbott