What Is a Charity Wedding Registry? Everything You Need To Know

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Photo by Tony Wodarck

When it comes to asking for wedding gifts, there is more than one route couples can take. Everyone knows of traditional wedding registries, most are familiar with honeymoon registries and asking for cash, but have you heard of the registry that gives back? Enter charity wedding registries.

What Is a Charity Wedding Registry?

A charity wedding registry is a type of registry where couples asks guests to donate to a specific organization rather than purchase tangible gifts.

Not only is a charity wedding registry the perfect gift-giving solution for couples who already own the necessary newlywed items, but it is also a wonderful way to kick off your union. "We simply believe starting your marriage off with the ritual of generosity is a good thing," explains Beth Helmstetter, founder of The Good Beginning, a charity registry platform that streamlines the giving process for couples and guests. "It's also a great way to make a bigger impact than the couple could do on their own but pooling resources of their guests...[and] a great resource to consider if the couple feels they already have all they need but know their guests will still want to give a gift in some way."

Meet the Expert

Beth Helmstetter is the founder of eponymous event planning company Beth Helmstetter Events. Based in California, the seasoned wedding planner is also the founder of The Good Beginning, a charitable wedding registry service.

A new kind of wedding gift, charity wedding registries have seen increasing popularity in recent years and The Good Beginning's statistics prove it. Since its inception, the platform saw a few dozen registries grow to about 1000 in 2020. Helmstetter adds, "The couples who work with The Good Beginning love the idea of doing something good with their wedding day and are the type of individuals that believe generosity is needed now more than ever. While some raise modest amounts of money and others bring in tens of thousands of dollars, overall every couple is excited to see their guests come together to make an impact."

Benefits of Charity Registries

The beauty of a charity registry, as Helmstetter explains, "is it isn't an all or nothing decision." Still hoping to stock your newlywed home with a china set or the latest the kitchen appliance? Create a traditional registry and a charitable one to satisfy your wishlist and support the community simultaneously. "Adding a charitable registry option is just another way to give guests choices in the sort of gift they give the couple," she says. "[The couple] will get a set of towels as a tangible gift, but guests are so moved by the charitable option that they will make a modest donation as well."

How to Choose a Charity

As Helmstetter reveals, the most successful registries align with organizations that are meaningful to the couple. "If a parent fought heart disease or breast cancer, it might be an obvious decision to consider organizations who support these causes. Or perhaps they regularly volunteer at a local shelter or feel very driven to fight social injustices in the world. Finding an organization that the couple is connected to be it through experience or simply passion is a great place to start."

Charities to Support

Ready to create a charity wedding registry of your own? We've shared 12 organizations to consider before you get started.

The Good Beginning

Created by Helmstetter, this online registry allows couples to research, choose, and embed a link requesting donations for a variety of local, national, and international charities that support everything from human rights to animal welfare to faith-based initiatives right onto their wedding website. Don't see the charity you'd like to donate to on the site's list of causes? Let The Good Beginning know and they can add it.

VOW for Girls

VOW's mission is to end child marriage globally. 100% of funds received go directly to grassroots organizations that work to ensure every young girl can create her own future. Aside from making a direct donation, couples can set up a dedicated donation page, support VOW by purchasing products from brand partners or donate in lieu of favors.

The Birthday Party Project

Keep the party going with a donation to this group that hosts birthday parties—complete with presents, cake, decorations and games—for homeless children living in shelters or transitional housing across the country. Over the years, The Birthday Party project has thrown over 12,000 bashes.

Flying Fur Rescue

This growing group of volunteer pilots, drivers, and animal rescue workers transport animals at risk of being euthanized (typically at high kill shelters) to areas where they are more likely to be adopted—while they are taken care of in foster homes. Founded in 2015 by a pilot, the non-profit is based in southeastern Pennsylvania and currently pays the $500 cost of each transport out of pocket.

Wish Upon a Wedding

Spread the love from your wedding to a couple in need through this organization, which funds weddings and vow-renewal celebrations for couples facing serious illness or other life-altering circumstances. Brides and grooms as well as husbands and wives battling terminal cancer, cystic fibrosis, and other obstacles benefit from the charity's work and partnerships with wedding and event industry pros in chapters across the country. In addition to monetary contributions, brides can give a little extra by donating their wedding gown, as well.

Charity: Water

One in 10 people around the world don't have access to clean water. This tech-savvy group works with local partners in places like Africa, Asia, and South America, and it puts 100 percent of public donations toward sustainable solutions as well as education about the crisis. Completed projects include the installation of new water pumps, safer wells, filtration systems, and other infrastructure geared towards cleaner water for all.

The Adventure Project

You can add a charitable donation to this global job-creating organization right onto your registry using The Adventure Project's online tools. And to keep the home-making registry theme going, the current targeted donation program gifts a stove that protects a family in need in places like Uganda or India from breathing in the toxic smoke of an open flame. Other featured programs tackle hunger, health, water, and the environment.

Honor Flight Network

A particularly meaningful pick if you or your fiancé have a grandparent or relative that served in World War II, this non-profit flies elderly or ill veterans to visit war monuments in Washington, D.C. The group is currently in the process of expanding their services to eventually honor veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars as well as World War II.

Arbor Day Foundation

Plant a tree in each of your guests' honor through the conservation and education organization behind the holiday. Your donations can also help fund specific nature-loving programs like rain forest rescue, outdoor education, or community forestry restoration efforts after natural disasters.

Heifer International

The idea behind this well-known charity group is to help hungry and poverty-stricken communities become self-reliant through the donation of animals, farming supplies, or small business support. Encourage guests to help you donate a goat, a water buffalo, or a whole "gift ark" to communities in South America, Asia, Africa, or Europe, and you'll receive updates on how your contribution is making a difference.

National Guild for Community Arts Education

Music lovers? Painting enthusiasts? This group provides funding and resources to community arts education organizations across the United States that can help kids and adults follow those same passions. With a focus on key initiatives like after school youth programming and arts opportunities for the elderly, the New York-based Guild has a wide reach that any wedding guest can get behind.

The Hope Gala

The Hope Gala's mission is simple: conquer childhood cancer. The New York City-based organization was founded in 2008 to support the fundraising efforts of the Penn State Dance Marathon THON, which benefits the Four Diamonds at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Their year-long efforts culminate at an annual gala in Manhattan and the organization has raised over $1.3 million to fight childhood cancer to date.

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