Are you having a hard time reconciling your happy wedding celebration and personal wedding splurges while the world seems in turmoil? Listen to this: Yes, you should celebrate your engagement and this joyous new chapter in your life. And yes, your wedding can actually make a positive impact on the world.

Ethical weddings are nothing new in 2022. We’ve chatted quite a lot in recent years about how to make your wedding environmentally friendly. Eco-friendly weddings are a trend we’re happy to report and happy to promote! Also, we’ve featured a number of good-hearted wedding vendors. From florists who bring your leftover roses to hospitals and homes to fashion designers to donate profits to crucial charities, supporting wedding vendors who give back means you’re giving back, too!

Moreover, VOW For Girls has been a wedding industry leader in promoting positive social change. A nonprofit organization that partners with the global wedding industry, brands, and individuals, VOW For Girls works to end the international child marriage crisis.

Photo by Claire Graham via Bridal Musings

If this resonates with you, you’re not alone. According to a new study by The Wedding Report in conjunction with VOW for Girls examining “giving back” behaviors of 1,000 engaged couples, 64% are likely to support a charitable cause as part of their upcoming weddings or associated events, such as bridal showers and gift registries. That’s equivalent to 1.58 million weddings in 2022 based on wedding market data. Below is the list of top causes engaged participants said they’d like their wedding to support:

Top causes couples want to support as part of their wedding:

  1. Girls’ and Women’s Rights
  2. Education
  3. Poverty
  4. Health-related Issues
  5. Environment and Climate Change
  6. Animal Rights

So, how can you celebrate your wedding while making some sort of positive global impact? We’ve highlighted a number of ideas that will help you follow your heart in more ways than one…

Photo by Raquel Puras with florals by Studio Floral

Commit to eco-friendly wedding fashion and decor.

When it comes to fashion, we’ve shared a guide on how to make eco-friendly wedding fashion choices. It goes beyond buying used and vintage gowns. Think about what sustainable or non-sustainable fabrics your clothing is made of. Where is your wardrobe made and by whom? Is your gown or outfit made-to-order or tied to wasteful fast fashion?

For decor, being eco-friendly means making mindful decisions on how much you actually need. Will excess decor end up in a landfill? How much plastic are you purchasing? Are there compostable options? Buying used or, better yet, renting decor is an environmentally friendly alternative to buying new. Find more tips on how to plan an eco-friendly wedding here.

Photo by Nadia & Co.

Opt for a charity registry, donating wedding gifts to your favorite cause.

We find that the vast majority of modern couples prefer cash to presents for their wedding gifts. Opting for a charity registry is an easy and wonderful way to ensure your wedding makes a positive global impact. There are a few ways you can easily promote your charity registry…

  1. State on your wedding invitations or wedding website that all monetary wedding gifts will be given to your chosen charity. Letting your guests know which charity you’ve selected gives them a specific idea of how their money will make positive change. This way, guests will be more likely to donate to your chosen cause.
  2. Alternatively, ask guests to make a donation to your favorite charity (or even their own preferred cause) in your name. Then, guests can include in their wedding cards where the gift went to. Your wedding will make an impact on a number of wonderful and diverse charities.

We’ve also featured a few favorite charity wedding registries that actually set up a registry account for you, for easy gifting. If girls’ and womens’ rights are important to you, we recommend donating to VOW For Girls.

Photo by Pia Riverola

Donate used flowers, food and fashion following your wedding.

Cut down on wedding waste and repurpose items that can serve others in need!

First, give your wedding flowers more than one-day life. Many companies will pick up your floral arrangements and deliver them to hospitals, nurseries and other organizations in need of a bit of cheer. Alternatively, you can work with your wedding florist to do the same. Choose a local organization and have your florist set up a floral delivery following your wedding.

Similarly, don’t let your leftover wedding meals go to waste! Work with your caterer to find a local food bank or organization that will accept extra wedding meals. With wedding catering overordering the standard, and last-minute guest no-shows expected, nearly every wedding has extra food that can benefit someone who is hungry.

Ditch the wedding favors & donate to a charity in your guests’ names.

Newsflash, your adorable wedding favors are very likely to be left behind! We certainly love wedding favors (especially the tasty type). But, the sad truth is most guests either don’t notice them, forget about them or simply don’t want any more ‘stuff’ to fill their homes in this age of minimalism.

If you have a wedding favor budget, why not give that amount to your charity of choice. Then, on your wedding menus or programs you can include a line that says, “In lieu of wedding favors, we’ve donated to _______ charity in your name.”

Dress by sustainable wedding dress designer Loulette Bride

Hire responsible wedding vendors.

We know, researching wedding vendors that fit your location, style and budget is hard enough as it is. But, if you want your wedding to have a positive global impact, vet your wedding vendors to match your ethics as well.

How? Buy fashion from designers who use sustainable practices and pay fair wages. Book venues that employ environmentally friendly practices like using renewable energy. Choose local wedding florists who design with seasonal flowers. Hire wedding vendors who donate proceeds to charity and support causes you both align with. While we’ve featured 20 wedding vendors who give back, we know there are hundreds of thousands of more out there!

Photo by Les Bandits

Your donations are tax-deductible.

Finally, we want to add that your wedding-related donations should be tax-deductible in the US. We’ve written a guide on which donations qualify as tax write-offs to encourage even more charitable wedding giving.

Find more resources for planning an ethical wedding.

This post was made with help from VOW For Girls.