Getting married can be such an exciting time in your life—but, for those who aren’t used to a ton of attention or spending big bucks on a one-time event, there are parts of planning a wedding that can feel a bit...uncomfortable to say the least. Registering for gifts or asking guests to drop everything they’re doing and travel from afar to celebrate you—coupled with tragedy and natural disasters in the world—can almost feel silly or even frivolous at times. But, not to fear, socially-conscious brides and grooms—there are plenty of ways to incorporate charitable giving and other forms of giving back on your Big Day while still celebrating your love. Below, we’ve broken down four ways to ensure your wedding isn’t just an incredible event, but a generous one as well.

1. Register for Charitable Contributions


As planners, one of the areas brides and grooms are most uncomfortable with when planning their wedding seems to be registering for gifts. While it’s perfectly normal and socially acceptable to register for gifts for your Big Day, we totally understand how asking for those expensive plates or that egyptian-cotton sheet set can feel a little entitled. If you’re uncomfortable with registering for gifts and are in a spot where you can afford to forego gifts or cash on your big day, we recommend registering for charitable donations instead. A fun way to do this is for each of you to choose your favorite charity. Then, include a simple line on your wedding website that states something along the lines of: “We’ve already got all we could ever need. For those of you who would like, we ask instead that you make a donation to Meals on Wheels in Jen’s name, or the ACLU in Matt’s name in lieu of gifts.” Websites like Blueprint Registry, SimpleRegistry and JustGive also allow you to add charities to your wedding registry.

2. Source Eco-Friendly Vendors


From green wedding rings to sustainably-designed dresses, finding eco-friendly wedding vendors and decor items is a great way to minimize your wedding’s footprint. Favors are a great place to get eco-friendly—opt for something fair-trade or items made using recycled or repurposed materials. When it comes to decor, repurpose and recycle as much as possible—there’s no need to buy a brand-new easel for that escort-card display or fresh-out-of-the-box picture frames for those family photos; take a trip to a thrift store, borrow from a friend, or rent from a vendor instead. Paper waste is also a huge part of weddings—work with your stationer to see how you can minimize paper use in your wedding suite, or to explore what recycled paper options she may have. As always, though, be sure to work with a professional wedding planner when sourcing eco-friendly vendors to ensure you’re still choosing trusted vendors who will deliver as promised.

3. Place Donation Jars at Bars


A friend of ours recently spent six months planning a large-scale event in Las Vegas. Fast-forward to four day before the event, and the city saw the largest mass shooting in history. Once they processed the tragedy, they found ourselves stumped. How could they expect people to come and party on Las Vegas Strip just one week after something so severe happened? But, with vendor contracts signed and guests’ plane tickets purchased, they weren’t exactly in a spot to cancel the event last-minute, either. So, instead, they took care of bartenders ahead of time and placed out donation jars at each bar that asked guests to donate to the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund instead of tipping. They ended up collecting a ton of money for the fund, and had so many guests comment on what a nice touch it was. With fires in Sonoma and hurricanes in Texas, if your event happens to take place in the aftermath of a local tragedy or natural disaster, we recommend doing the same—place donation jars around at bars in lieu of tip jars (just be sure your catering/bar contract includes a service fee and/or that you tip bartenders ahead of time so they don’t get stiffed in the process!).

4. Don’t Let Those Flowers Go to Waste


Flowers, though the most gorgeous, can also be the most wasteful part of weddings. You spend thousands on your dream arrangements, bouquets, and swags...only to see them thrown in the trash at the end of the night. If you’re worried about all of that excess waste, we recommend finding a local organization who will donate your flowers to a hospital or hospice center after your wedding ends. Most major cities have organizations that offer this service—and it’s such a nice way to ensure your flowers are getting more mileage than just a one-time show at the altar. Another great way to minimize floral impact is to ensure you’re choosing florals that are in season, or, for a super eco-friendly option, opt for succulents in vases or potted flowers that can double as guest favors or home decor for you and your new spouse once your Big Day is over.

Overall, there are tons of small steps you can take to ensure your wedding is socially-conscious, eco-friendly, and still beautiful and celebratory. From sourcing “green” vendors to making proactive plans to donate flowers, we encourage you to incorporate one or two small ways to give back at your Big Day!

Photo courtesy:

Southern California wedding photographer Brandon Kidd Photography

San Diego wedding planner Amorology

Custom wedding signs Peanut Press Creative