The average cost of an American wedding continues to climb; in 2014, most couples (and their families) spent around $31,213, which is a 4.5 percent increase from the previous year. Meanwhile, thousands of non-profits struggle to help those in need due to a lack of funds. Believe it or not, benevolent brides can actually solve these two birds with one stone.
Wedding overspending is easier than you expect, but by making a commitment to contributing to various charitable organizations with your wedding plans, you can cut back on many of your major expenses. Your wedding day should be all about you — but here are a handful of ways you can help those in need while you enjoy your big day.
Bachelor/ette Volunteer Parties
You can start giving back even before your big day by asking your bride and groom parties to forego the traditional lusty, lush weekend for a more valuable celebration before your big day. There are thousands of organizations begging for volunteers on a variety of worthwhile projects; you and your bridesmaids can help clean up a nearby park, build a home for a needy family, or play with abandoned animals at a local shelter. You will be able to spend quality time with your favorite people and help you community.
More than 50 percent your weddings budget is usually devoted to the venues you rent for your ceremony and reception. There are a handful of tricks and tips to reduce the overall cost of your venues — avoid reception halls and schedule off-hours, for example — but there is one way to pledge 100 percent of your venue expenses to the greater good: Rent a nonprofit’s event space for your big day. Plenty of nonprofits boast absolutely beautiful spaces; museums, parks, and historical sites are usually available at rock-bottom prices, and all of your money will go directly to their good works. Plus, non-traditional wedding spaces are usually more flexible, which is a boon for any bride.
Fresh flowers may not be the greenest choice you can make for your wedding, but as long as you opt for organic, local blooms, you shouldn’t be overly worried about your chemical footprint. Fresh flowers add vibrancy and life to your wedding day, and you shouldn’t deprive your décor of some essential natural beauty — unless you just dump your bouquets and centerpieces in the trash after the day is done. Hospitals, nursing homes, and other places will gladly accept donations of fresh flowers to brighten the mood.
There are dozens of ways you can arrange for a honeymoon that gives back. Eco-tourism, or vacationing with the intent to conserve environments and revitalize communities, is becoming abundantly popular, and more destinations than ever are offering opportunities to donate time and energy while you travel. There are also charitable organizations that offer a free vacation for two when donating used items, such as an old boat or car. You can also donate used items and receive a tax write off at the end of the year and use that extra money for the honeymoon of your dreams. You will support the causes you love while having a means to go on the most private, passionate trip of your life.
Give Up Gifts
More couples than ever are living together before tying the knot — about two-thirds of couples choose to cohabitate before marriage — which means you likely shared a space with your significant other before your engagement. As a result, you likely already have all the home appliances you might usually get from friends and family on your wedding day.
Instead of doubling up on plates and glasses, you can ask your guests kindly to forego wrapped presents and instead make donations to the charity of your choice. Those wrapped parcels that do show up can easily be resold, and the proceeds can add to your charitable contribution.
Donate Your Dress
Your wedding dress makes you feel like the most beautiful woman on Earth — but, guaranteed, you will never wear it again. Instead of allowing your precious white lace to go stale and moth-eaten, you can donate or sell your dress to a bride with fewer resources to spend on one-use clothing. It’s ultimately a win-win: You get to free up closet space, and she gets to feel stunning on her big day, too.