Meghan Markle and Prince Harry recently announced their request for charity donations instead of wedding gifts and we are totally on board with the idea. Their request comes as no surprise, given the couple’s extensive involvement in charity work. Following in the footsteps of Prince William and Kate Middleton, who also requested charity donations in lieu of gifts, Meghan and Prince Harry have personally selected seven small organizations for their 600 guests to donate to. The charities cover a wide range of issues including women’s empowerment, social change, HIV, homelessness and the environment.
Incorporating a charitable element into your big day is an incredible way to showcase the social issues that you and your partner find meaningful. We spoke to Toronto-based wedding planner Rebecca Chan of Rebecca Chan Weddings and Events about the benefits of asking for charitable donations rather than gifts.
1. It’s great for spreading awareness for your cause.
It’s a bit of an obvious reason, but you are, after all, shining light on an issue that is important to you. Choosing to highlight a cause on a day that is traditionally, all about you is certainly an unconventional statement. But what could be more intimate than sharing something you and your spouse hold dear? This is definitely a special way to connect with your guests.
Before asking for monetary donations, you may want to tread lightly. Requesting any kind of cash gift is traditionally seen as a bit of a faux pas. “Gifts are never to be assumed, whether it’s a donation or a store-bought gift,” Chan explains. “I recommend writing a personal note on the wedding website about the request or letting parents and wedding guests know ahead of time.”
2. It’s a perfect fit for a more financially secure couple.
Following Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s lead may not be right choice for every couple. According to Chan, the idea has yet to really take off. “It’s easy for Meghan and Harry to do so, but not everyone has the luxury of a royal wedding,” Chan says. Many couples are opting to pay for the wedding themselves these days, and costs can easily add up. “It would take a very generous couple to follow in Harry and Meghan’s footsteps,” she adds. However, if a couple is more established financially, already living together, or is older and more set in their careers and lifestyles, this may actually be a great option, Chan explains.
3. The charity you choose can add a completely unique element to your wedding.
One of the most incredible aspects of having a charity featured at your wedding is that it can add a unique feel to the celebration. “Whether you’re donating or are requesting that guests donate, it’s always fun to include this detail in a thoughtful way that is styled towards the wedding itself,” Chan explains.
There are so many personal ways to incorporate a charity into wedding decor. “It could be as simple as a frame at the welcome table noting the charity or a more unique and creative touch,” Chan comments. “Either way, this is a great opportunity to make your wedding truly stand out.”
4. It may be a cheaper alternative for your guests.
“Most couples do prefer to receive monetary gifts to help offset the cost of the wedding,” Rebecca tells us. However, if you and your spouse are financially secure enough to forgo monetary gifts, asking for cash donations in any amount may serve as a financial relief to guests. Friends and family are then free to give what they can afford, without feeling pressured to purchase an expensive registry gift.
5. Giving a gift in memory of a loved one can make the gesture even more special.
If a particular disease or social issue has directly affected you or a member of your family, asking for donations to a respective charity can create a beautiful feeling of solidarity. This is a great way to honour someone special in your life. “Even though it isn’t a very popular idea, it’s such a thoughtful and generous gesture,” Chan comments. “I wish more couples would consider it.”