Brides, rejoice: You have designed your dream wedding, now begin your ?happily ever after? by paying it forward.
From flower recycling to charity registries, we round up five charitable ways to weave good deed-doing into your best day ever.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Eden Gardens State Park, Santa Rosa Beach | Photo courtesy of Aislinn Kate Photography
There may be hundreds of venues around The Sunshine State to stage a special celebration, but consider ones where philanthropy plays a leading role.
Nonprofit-managed parks, museums and aquariums offer stunning backdrops for special occasions. Pick one that will apply your event’s proceeds towards furthering its educational programs, social outreach, volunteerism, new acquisitions and more.
Charity- and donation-driven venues to consider: The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg; MOTE Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota; Florida Museum of National History in Gainesville; and Eden Gardens State Park in Santa Rosa Beach (pictured above).
OPEN A CHARITY REGISTRY
Photo courtesy of Big Daddy Seashell
Instead of setting up a traditional gift registry, ask your guests to support a cause close to your heart.
The I Do Foundation helps marrieds-to-be establish an online charity registry so guests can make tax-deductible donations toward the bride and groom’s favorite charities.
Couples may opt to set a specific dollar amount or let their guests pick the monetary amount they prefer to give.
CREATE HAPPINESS WITH FLOWERS AND FOOD
Photo courtesy of Ashley Rose Photography
Once your reception is over, arrange for flowers and food to be donated to assisted living facilities, clinics or shelters.
Flowers bestow many positive effects on their recipients?including the ability to heal?so try not to toss them away! Contact a flower recycling charity that will put your bouquets and table centerpieces to good use.
For more about Petals With Purpose, click here.
Random Acts of Flowers (RAF), a ?green? nonprofit in Pinellas County, delivers refurbished flower arrangements to convalescent homes, VA hospitals and healthcare facilities. Nearly 100 percent volunteer-driven, RAF is supported by private donations, grants and corporate sponsorships. To donate, click here.
First, check to see if your caterer will take comestibles to a local charity or rescue program. If not, contact a food bank, like Feeding South Florida or Second Harvest, and schedule to have the items picked up.
For more options, go to Florida Association of Food Banks to find a pantry in your area.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DRESS
Photo courtesy of Moreland Photography
If you are not planning to store or repurpose your wedding gown, consider donating it to a good cause.
Brides For A Cause accepts and resells gently worn gowns and accessories. Monies are donated to its partner, Wish Upon A Wedding, which provides weddings for couples facing a terminal illness or life-altering circumstance.
Brides Against Breast Cancer accepts used dresses and donates all the profits to programs supporting cancer patients and their families.
There are many creative wedding favor ideas?why not send loved ones home with a favor that will support their favorite cause?
TisBest puts a personal twist on giving to charities in lieu of wedding favors. Some guests aren’t comfortable having donations made in their name, because they may not support the charity the couple chooses. A TisBest gift card allows each guest to choose a charity that complements their personal beliefs.
How it works: Couples will customize a gift card, which can be emailed or printed and mailed (pictured above). Then, they select a monetary value and can add a personal message (optional).
When guests receive their cards, they log on to the TisBest website, survey the 350 organizations and apply the specified amount to the charity, or charities, of their choice.
INFINITY AND BEYOND
Photo courtesy of Chris Isham
Seal your vows by handfasting, Ireland’s version of “tying the knot.” To display their eternal commiment, Celtic couples would have their hands ceremoniously bound with a ribbon in the shape of an infinity symbol.
RAISE A GLASS
Photo courtesy of Gemma Comas
Cocktail hour is a mainstay at Irish celebrations and the perfect time for making a toast. Stock your bar with staples?Guinness, Bailey’s and Jameson?and serve a whiskey-blended signature cocktail, such as an Irish Jack Rose served neat.
Click here for the drink recipe.
Photo courtesy of Matchbox Kitchen
Irish wedding cakes were typically two-tiered fruitcakes, made with honey and Irish whiskey, then frosted with a sweet glaze. The bottom tier would be served to guests while the second would be saved for the christening of the couple’s first child.
This “naked” strawberry shortcake, from Matchbox Kitchens, would definitely add a dose of whimsy to your dessert table.
H IS FOR HONEYMOON
After the wedding, a couple’s parents would supply them with enough mead for a month (or a full cycle of the moon). A special blessing, they hoped, would arrive nine months later. This was how the term ‘honeymoon’ came to be coined.
Not much of a mead enthusiast? Instead, plan a trip to Ashford Castle (pictured above). Located in Cong, Ireland, this luxurious, thirteenth-century property is loaded with Irish charm and estate activities. According to Conde Nast Traveler, it is hailed as one of the world’s most romantic getaways.