15 Simple Ways To Use Your Wedding To Pay It Forward

One of our favorite new wedding trends: using your wedding as a wonderful way to give back to your community. Here, get inspired by these creative ideas.

mountain wedding
Photo Credit: Nine Photography

Just weeks before bride-to-be Quinn Duane’s wedding, her fiancé called off the entire event. Reservations had been made, deposit checks long since cashed. What was a girl and her flummoxed family to do? Instead of letting everything go to waste, they decided to turn their heartbreaking situation into a heartwarming event for the homeless — they used the 120-guest reception to feed Sacramento-area homeless four-star quality food from the Citizen Hotel’s restaurant, The Grange. Then Duane and her mom headed out on the would-be honeymoon.

“They took this situation and did something nice for others, then took the red eye out of here to Belize,” Duane’s father, David, told local news channel, KCRA. But we need not experience heartache in order to do good with our own weddings. From going green to getting charitable, there are so many ways to use your big day to give back to the world. 

1. Choose Earth-Friendly Invitations

Opt for recycled paper, and look for a printer who actively works to minimize his or her carbon footprint while making your paper products. “When clients place a wedding invitation order through our green printers Smock Paper or Bella Figura, they are given the option to donate $10 to plant 10 trees via American Forests, and they will match the donation,” shared invitation designer and event planner Marissa Allie of Marissa Allie Designs. “In a paper-driven industry, it feels good to give a client the option to plant trees and give back.” 

2. Cut Back on Extra Inserts

Take your earth conscious attitude to invites one step further when considering the inserts. Printed maps were wonderful a decade ago, but thanks to GPS, they aren't necessary anymore (save the maps and printed directions just for the older folks who aren't as tech-savvy). And consider RSVP postcards instead of cards that need envelopes. A bonus way to be extra green: Use e-vites for less formal wedding events, like showers and engagement parties.

3. Add a Call to Action on Your Invites

On her wedding invitations, Florida bride Leigh McManus asked her guests to gift someone else with a random act of kindness. Leading up to her wedding (and even after), she was inundated with messages from loved ones as they took her request to heart. Whether donating cat food to an animal shelter or just supplying their doorman with some frozen yogurt, McManus’ friends had a blast sharing smiles.

4. Incorporate Your Favorite Charity in an Actionable Way

Love animals? Simply Social Event Planning shared how one animal-friendly couple went all out for their four-legged friends — they replaced the standard table numbers with pictures of adoptable dogs, with information on the back on where guests can find the pups if they're interested in taking one home. “Rather than spend money on something wasteful just because it's traditional, we would rather see the money be used toward something good and that lasts forever,” shared the bride. “You can't put a price tag on the rewards from having a pet to love and love you back. But we can put a price tag on helping them find their forever homes.”

5. Give a Friend or Family Member His Big Break

Giving back to the world at large is important, but helping out a friend is also a great place to start. Have a talented friend who's been photographing weddings on the side while keeping up a full-time job to pay the bills? Just because she hasn’t taken the leap into full-time photography doesn’t mean she can’t serve up amazing snaps; you might just be the encouragement she needs. Same goes for a DJ. Chances are, we all have that one cousin or nephew who just needs someone to believe in them. Just make sure they’re responsible, professional, and that their work lives up to the standards you want for your wedding.

Next: Ways to Reuse Your Flowers, Leftover Food, Gown, and More ►



Just an aside to donating your old wedding gowns, brides maids dresses etc. to a thrift shop. I know there are several places around the country who put the dresses to spectacular use! There's a lady in FL who makes Angel gowns for babies & young children who've passed on too soon. I also have a friend in IL who works for a great organization called the Cinderella affair. They help underprivileged families get young ladies all fancied up & repurpose these dresses so these young ladies look & feel like little princesses for prom & other formal dances! Just thought I'd throw that out there, I'm sure these programs & similar can be found all over & I'd be happy to send contact info to anyone who's interested in donating to the people who I know personally. I'm sure the ladies would be thrilled to share pics & updates of the final product as well! It would be a great keepsake to go into your wedding album! Thanks for this fantastic list!