Our Twist on Charity Favors

The concept of “charity favors” is popping up on wedding websites everywhere.

Usually the form it takes is this: “It’s so cool to use your favors budget to donate money to charity instead!  Give everyone a card telling them about what you did.”


I am all for charity giving.  It’s great.  We do it.  But here are the multitudinous problems I see with this scenario:

  1. A favor is supposed to be a gift to your guest. How is it a gift to your guest to say, “hey, instead of a gift for YOU, we’re giving a gift to a charity WE like”?  There’s no benefit to your guest–the benefit is to you.
  2. It comes across as bragging to me. “We are so great that we donated to charity and are going to tell every single person how much better we are than other couples who give trinkets.”  By all means, donate to charity if you want, but keep that to yourself.  If you really, really must share this information with people, keep it to a small framed note on the guestbook table, or similar.
  3. Charities are often controversial, and it’s presumptuous to think you know what your guests will like. There is no such thing as a charity that absolutely everyone supports.   I object to some charities not because their aims aren’t noble, but because of how they go about achieving those aims.  A donation made “in my honor” to those organizations would be offensive to me.  This isn’t just about donating to outwardly controversial charities like PETA or Planned Parenthood–it’s about the little things that make me choose one organization to give to but not another.  No one charity will make everyone happy.
  4. It seems to make your guests a low priority. If you REALLY want to donate to charity with part of your wedding budget, skip the flowers and donate that money.  When you pay for a fancy dress, and a photographer and a limo and flowers and everything and THEN deem that the one thing the guest gets other than food and drink is expendable, that gets my hackles up.

I generally think favors are unnecessary.  Most of them are thrown away or forgotten on the table unless they’re edible.  My mom really likes favors and thinks we need them, and I’m pretty neutral, so we are going to have favors and guess what, they’re going to benefit a charity!  Here is how we’re doing it.

My Aunt Kelley is mentally disabled.  As a child, she sustained extensive brain damage from a high fever, and can’t live on her own without a caretaker.  She’s always been a part of my family just like everyone else.  She likes doing puzzles, chocolate fondue, and iced tea, takes horseback riding lessons and has a best friend named Beverly.  She lives in a group home with several other women, and she is lucky enough to be employed by a charitable corporation that has created several businesses for people like her–she is not high functioning enough to be employed in a regular job in the community, but with a little help and extra supervision she goes to work every day, helping to bottle organic, natural cleaning products that are sold locally.

One of the businesses owned by this charity is a candy shop.  They employ mostly disabled people, and make really awesome sweets out of what operates as a normal old sweetshop.   For our wedding favors, we have decided that our guests will get a small bag with probably two chocolate-covered caramels and one chocolate turtle.  This way, our money is going to a good cause, but we are avoiding the problems above.  The guests will get what appears to be a normal, delicious wedding favor; we get the satisfaction of knowing our money went to a good cause AND our guests will leave with a little something for themselves.  It will wind up looking similar to this:

Our guests will get a favor they can enjoy, and it will not have any kind of indicator on there that the money has gone to anything but a candy store.  However, we know, privately, that the money is going to a cause we support–no bragging, no loss to the guests, no controversy.  Best of both worlds.

So, if you’re interested in a charity favor for your wedding, perhaps this is something to consider.  I’m only familiar with charities in Chicago, but what about some cute cookies from the Misericordia bakery or an awesome natural, soy and palm wax Dreambean Candle?   Both support great organizations and products!

What do you think about charity favors? Like I said, I fully appreciate that the thought behind them is awesome, but I think there are better ways to execute them than a card!


12 Responses

  1. I agree about the charity favors. My brother and SIL did something similar to you at their wedding. I thought it was a much better way to go.

    Those favors look really yummy!

  2. I’m not having a traditional wedding myself, but I would LOVE it if more weddings I went to would do these charity favors instead. I don’t know why this sort of thing is always so controversial.

    My Aunt Joyce Ann sounds very similar to your Aunt Kelly and also from a debilitating childhood fever. That charity certainly sounds deserving.

  3. That’s really an awesome idea, Brie!! I was a fan of the charity favor idea until I began thinking of many of the issues you mentioned (though not all of them). Your favor seems to be the perfect way to do some good while giving guests something they’ll appreciate. So awesome!

  4. I pretty much agree with you 100% on the charity thing. I am neutral about favors also. Especially since we are doing a destination style wedding and will have to tote everything with us or pay out the butt for shipping and hope everything makes it ok. But I’ve got some good ideas up my sleeve. It’s just a matter of getting to it.

  5. I love that you incorporated both ideas, and it’s something that makes you happy.

    I personally love seeing that the couple has decided to donate to a charity instead of giving out favors. Favors (unless they’re edible) end up in my junk drawer or the trash. The wedding is about the couple, not about me. So if they decide to donate “my” favor to something that they believe is a good charity, I’m all for that.

  6. Well, I’m out of the wedding “loop” since I’ve been married for 7+ years, and I’d never heard of charity favors until now. But you make very relevant points about them!

    I love what you are doing with your favors. I know there is a business local to me that is similar, and is a huge blessing for the people who work there!

  7. That’s a really interesting perspective on the charity favors that I never even thought of! We’re doing soaps for ours. My mom has a soap business and so she’s making us little football soaps as one of our favors since we’re huge sports fans. May do a little something else too, but haven’t decided on what. Instead of numbers for our tables, we’re printing out vintage sepia prints of our favorite stadiums. I love how much you can integrate what you love into your wedding. Your favor idea is really touching! 🙂

  8. That is a great idea!! I agree with you that it can sometimes look like bragging if you give each guest a card saying you donated to a charity. I think what you guys are doing is a much better way to go!!

  9. That’s a great idea. My mom works in the office of a non-profit home for mentally challenged adults, and they have a gourmet peanut shop that employs some of the residents. Very much like the candy shop that you are talking about…what a great idea for wedding favors!

  10. I’m with you on this. I think if you really wanted to do charity favours, you should ask guests what charity they want to donate to. But at the same time, that can cause a huge headache with 100+ guests.

    My Uncle Kenny (my mom’s brother) was born with down syndrome. The organizations that support people like him are always in need of money, so I think this is an especially good idea 🙂

  11. I LOVE your favor idea! We have a local place called Sugar Plum Bakery and they employ disabled individuals. It’s so thoughtful of you to think of both your guests and an organization that you support. I didn’t find out about our local bakery until post-wedding and we did the typical donation cards, but I wish I had done something like you guys are doing.
    I know I would get flamed by the knotties 🙂 Excellent idea, Brie!!

  12. I really like this idea! We went back & forth with favors, charity donations, etc., until my mom thought we should just squash the idea totally. Which we had… but I might look into doing something like this. Thanks for the inspiration!

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