Philanthropic engaged couple doing charity work

Wedding Gift Alternatives for Philanthropic Couples

Are you planning a wedding for a couple who love giving back to their community? Maybe you’re working with a couple who met volunteering for a cause that matters deeply to them. Maybe your clients are big environmentalists, or maybe they’re just passionate about world issues in general.

Whatever the background, a traditional gift registry may not cut it for your do-good duo. As a wedding planner, you’ve probably clued in by now that doing away with the gift registry altogether doesn’t work either. Weddings are a big milestone, and friends and family are going to want to show their love for the happy couple with something.

Luckily, there are lots of alternatives when it comes to wedding gifts. Sit down with your clients and get creative—what issues matter most to them? How can they channel the good intentions of friends and family into something that will help make a change in the world? It may be their wedding, but for philanthropic couples their big day will mean far more if it gives them a chance to give back.

We’ve rounded up some of the best charitable and sustainable wedding gift alternatives, but it all depends on the couple. If they’ve got a specific cause in mind, there’s probably a creative way to make it work!

Pay it forward

For couples who already have everything but are passionate about a certain cause or charity, why not set up a charitable gift registry? There are a few (credible) options for this. A site like the I Do Foundation lets you set up an actual registry, so your clients’ guests can donate to a charity (or charities) selected by your client, while a site like Just Giving also allows your clients to pick charities of their choice and set up a page where their guests can donate.

Wedding guest making charitable donation online

Of course, online donations aren’t for everyone, so if your clients would prefer to work offline—or if they know some of their guests aren’t too Internet-savvy—another option is to send out a collection envelope with the wedding invitation.

Take care of your guests

It’s easy to forget sometimes, but your community includes the people closest to you—specifically, the kind of people you invite to your wedding! If a lot of your clients’ guests will be travelling long distances to get to the wedding, having their guests make the trip may be the best gift of all, so why not treat it that way?

Help your clients to come up with a way to acknowledge their guests’ travel expenses and indicate that the time, effort, and money that goes into travelling to a wedding is more than enough.

Build that school

Are your clients engaged in philanthropic work abroad? If so, donations to help fund the couple’s next volunteer project might be the ideal gift. Building a school, orphanage, hospital or other facility is a pretty expensive project, so having the couple’s guests help support the project can make a big difference.

This might be a little more complicated to arrange than a charitable gift registry—you’ll have to look into the project and how to donate. Some guests may be content to donate to the project overall, but others may want something more tangible; check to see if guests can put their money towards specific items that go along with the project, like clothing, books, or medical equipment.

Small-time registry

If your clients are just starting out, they may still need some more traditional gifts to kick-start their post-wedding life together. But does that mean they’re stuck with gift registries from big-box stores that manufacture everything overseas? Definitely not!

Your couple probably has a sense of which major retailers have stronger policies on environmental and social matters, so picking a store that they already support is one option. But if your clients are in love with a local business’s vintage furniture or a local designer’s work, get in touch with the business owners to see if you can work on developing a small independent registry.

While it might not be as high-tech as a traditional registry, it’s a great way to give back to local businesses in the community—plus get some unique, socially responsible gifts!


Local small business owner

Get Green

Couples trying to cut back on their ecological footprint probably aren’t going to be thrilled by mass-produced gifts with tons of packaging. There are lots of ways to give gifts that’ll keep the Earth happy and healthy:

  • Gifts from environmentally conscious companies
  • Money towards a honeymoon, future home, future pets, education, or other big investments
  • A monthly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box, or a local equivalent
  • Gift cards or contributions towards shared experiences like cooking lessons or a dance class
  • Solar panels—add them to the registry and let guests contribute!

Pro Tip: Even if your couple is set on an alternative registry, it might be a good idea for them to have a more traditional registry as well, even if it’s small. Weddings tend to bring in a wide range of guests, and some of the couple’s more traditionally-minded friends and family members might feel it’s only polite to show up with a “real” gift in hand. There’s always stuff around the house that needs replacing (how about a set of new towels, so they can finally throw out those old threadbare rags?)—or if they really don’t need anything, a sustainably-sourced piece of art or decor might do the trick.

Do you have other ideas for philanthropic wedding gift alternatives? What about ideas for eco-friendly and socially responsible weddings? Let us know in the comments!

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