All the Philly Ways to Give to Charity on Your Wedding Day

Make a contribution in lieu of favors, donate your flowers and more.

wedding favors

There are various ways to use your Big Day for good, including donating your florals or making a charitable contribution instead of wedding favors. Photo by Rebecca Barger Photography; florals by Petals Lane (donated via Forget Me Knot Flowers)

Philly couples are always seeking out new ways to bring special meaning to their Big Days. Duos outfit the decor with personal touches, honor their past and frequently give back to charity. Here, Randi Martin, chief event planner of Jenkintown’s Trilogy Event Design, shares how to use your wedding favors for acts of goodwill.

wedding favors

This couple gave back to the Attic, an LGBTQ youth center in Philly, instead of wedding favors. Photo by Stesha Whitney

Consider Your Reasons

Certain aspects of weddings can seem de rigueur, last-minute or, perhaps, a waste of money. Favors occasionally fall into that category — but you can circumvent this by giving back. “At least half of my clients over the past three or four years have donated to charity in lieu of favors,” says Martin, who was a founding member of the Philly chapter of Wish Upon a Wedding. “Tchotchkes are cute, but the generation getting married now is more conscious of the environment, causes and sustainability.” And she notes that guests won’t always use a favor with a picture of the couple, their names or the wedding date on it — sometimes they don’t even take the items home because they simply don’t want them. Favors can easily be cut, particularly if your budget is tight.

Make It Personal

Choose a philanthropy that’s close to your heart. “I try to get my couples to think of something that has special meaning and relates to them,” Martin says. Perhaps they were volunteering somewhere when they met, or a family member has been faced with a serious illness that a particular charity supports. Have fur babies? Give to a nonprofit that supports animals, like the ASPCA. (Want real-life examples? Click here to read about how one couple gave back to the LGBTQ community, while this duo donated to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.)

Be Smart About It

Don’t tell guests the donation is being made in their names. “If you do, they can write it off on their taxes, which would require you to provide tax receipts for each guest,” Martin notes. “It’s better to say the donation is being made in their honor.” The couple, however, should get a receipt for themselves; if you’re giving $25 for 200 people, you need documentation to claim it. And make sure the organization is a true nonprofit 501(c), to ensure your donation is tax-deductible.

Share the Good News

Help guests make the connection by creating signage for your wedding. Put the name of the organization and why you’re supporting it at the place-card table or near the guest book so people will see it. Let guests know the flowers are being donated, for example — so Aunt Sally doesn’t take the centerpieces home. (Click here to see how one couple handled their floral donations.) Have a wedding website? “Put a link here so people can make their own donations as well.”


This couple donated to the Philadelphia Suns for the nonprofit’s Chinese lion dance at their wedding. Photo by Emily Wren Photography

Four More Philly Ways to Give Back

1) Donate your wedding dress to Blessing Brides Ministry in Downingtown. Each gown is named for its donor, who receives a picture of the frock and new owner upon purchase.

2) Darnel’s Cakes in Old City will bake your sweets. A portion of the proceeds from sales currently go toward Bebashi, an HIV/AIDS nonprofit aiding low-income people of color with the disease.

3) Hold your Big Day at The Farmhouse at People’s Light in Malvern, whose sole financial purpose is to raise funds for its theater. Every guest who attends a wedding receives a voucher for a show.

4) Buy bridesmaids’ gifts from Lucky Thirteen Candle Co. The Philly-born owner gives 10 to 15 percent of the monthly proceeds to charities such as the Philadelphia Bail Fund. (Learn more about her business here.)

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