10 Ways to Give to Charity in Lieu of Wedding Gifts

More and more couples opt for non-traditional wedding gifts today, such as cash or requests for a donation to their favourite charity.

In one survey, ten percent of couples surveyed — either engaged or newly married — opted for charity gift registries in the last year or two. However, weddings are steeped in tradition, and some people see asking for money as tacky. Fortunately, asking for donations to a non-profit isn’t self-serving, so people are much less likely to be offended at the request. Here are 10 ways to give to charity in lieu of wedding gifts and the best ways to ask for those donations.

Giving to charity instead of wedding gifts

1. Forgo the Wedding Favors

Set the tone by saving money on wedding favours and donating what you would have spent to charity. Instead of placing a small bag with a candle or potted plant on the table in front of the guest, simply put a printed card on the table explaining that you chose to donate the money that would have been spent on favours to a charity instead. Another idea is to place a larger sheet for the entire table that explains what the charity does and why you chose them.

2. Add the Request to Your Invites

When Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, the two requested that instead of gifts that people donate to one of their favourite charities. If you want to know the best way to word a no-gift invite, look to how the Royals do it for elegance and grace. The invite was worded in a way that left the gift-giving choice up to the guest. The invitation for the royal wedding read “The couple have therefore asked that anyone who might wish to mark the occasion considers making a donation to charity, rather than sending a wedding gift.”

These unique gift requests aren’t just limited to the Royal family. In fact, back in the day, families provided brides with helpful resources to help them start their new life and even exchanged property in lieu of physical wedding gifts. The request is all in the wording. Remember that a gift is considered optional and something given from the heart of the person. If they bring a gift, accept it graciously and then sell it on Facebook Marketplace and donate the money yourself.

3. Keep the Wedding Simple

The average wedding  costs $36,200. What if you could plan your wedding for $10,000 and donate the other $23,391 to the charity of your choice? Not only would your wedding still be as memorable, but you’d set an example for your wedding guests that might encourage them to do the same.

4. Skip the Honeymoon

Many couples have gone to honeymoon fund requests in lieu of wedding gifts. Instead of going on an expensive honeymoon, however, what about having a staycation and asking people to donate to a charity instead? You can start the fund by putting what you would have spent travelling into it.

5. Create a Traditional Registry with an Option

As a couple just starting out, there truly might be some things you need. One option that will allow you to receive some gifts while still making an impact is to add a charity option to the gift registry. Guests then choose which they’d rather do or perhaps even make a small donation and purchase you a smaller gift.

6. Add a Link on Your Wedding Website

Another idea to encourage giving to your favourite cause is to add a donation link to your wedding website. Part of the wedding website’s purpose is to share your story as a couple. Share with guests how important the charity is to you as a couple and why you’re requesting that people who wish to give a gift donation to it instead.

7. Be Sensitive

If the charity you’ve chosen might be one that some guests are opposed to, proceed with caution. Some non-profits deal with hot-button issues, and the last thing you want to do is completely alienate a family member over what should be a philanthropic endeavour. You have a couple of options here. You can either send out two different invites based on the person’s position on that topic, or you can word it very carefully to ensure the person understands that the donation is entirely optional, and they should follow their conscience.

8. Avoid Mentioning Specific Amounts

It’s considered the height of rudeness to demand a certain amount from guests. Gift-giving is completely optional. Simply request that if they want to give a gift, they consider the charity in whatever amount they choose. One person may give $1000 and another $5. Everyone has a different budget, but all the donations add up and help the cause you’ve chosen.

9. Share Whether the Charity Is Tax Deductible

People love to add deductions at tax time. If the charity offers a tax deduction, mention that fact. Guests might give a bit more if they know they can take it off on their taxes.

10. Skip the Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner is typically made up of the wedding party and the parents and closest relatives. Costs add up quickly when you figure in feeding 20-30 people. Instead, have a simple meal of cold cuts or ask the wedding party to attend a pitch-in, explaining that you’re going to donate the hundreds the meal would have cost to your favourite charity.

Get Creative

It’s still outside the norm to ask for charity donations rather than gifts. It’s okay to get creative in how you share information about your favourite non-profit. If you’re persuasive enough, it just might become one or more of your guests’ favourite charity, too — truly the gift that keeps giving.