In a way, the whole wedding experience is about giving. You and your fiancé are pledging your love to each other, you're giving a wonderful party for people you care about, and your guests are gifting you items for your new life. So, why not share the spirit of love and generosity even further, by bringing charitable endeavors into the picture? From donating your registry to sending your leftover food to the needy, there are so many ways to pay it forward on your special day.
Donate your registry.
Let guests donate in your name by using a site like ZankYou.com or Zola.com, which can set up a "charity registry." Or include items on your list from companies like Chantal, which gives a portion of profits from its Memory Collection to Alzheimer's research. Heartful.ly is another great foundation: You can set up a totally donation-based registry, and the site will connect you to charities and non-profits all over the world. If you're already passionate about a specific nonprofit, the team at Heartful.ly will work with the organization to add them to the platform. After your wedding, you'll receive an impact update illustrate how your registry made positive impact in the lives of others.
Make your location count.
When you choose a nonprofit's space—such as a wildlife preserve, botanical garden, or historical site—as a venue, the fee you pay will go toward funding the group's work. So while you are celebrating and dancing in a lovely place, you know your big day will also help, say, to beautify public spaces or encourage educational programs.
Do someone a favor.
Take the portion of your budget that you had set aside for favors, and instead invest it in helping people in need. Organizations like IDoFoundation.org will not only help you coordinate, they'll provide customized cards to let your guests know about the gift you've made in their honor.
Give gifts that give back.
Presents for your bridal party or parents can do double duty when you shop from charitable organizations—think FEED bags, which fight hunger, or comfy TOMS shoes for your bridesmaids (the company contributes to various causes).
Bequeath your dress.
After the day, you can donate your dress to a charity that exists solely to make the dreams of women across the country come true (BridesAcrossAmerica.com is one that helps military brides). DonateMyWeddingDress.org can also help connect you with a charity. And ask your bridesmaids to do the same with their gowns!
Deliver your flowers.
The blooms you chose will remain beautiful for several more days. Contact a local nursing home or hospital and have your arrangements sent to them post-wedding.
This story originally appeared on Martha Stewart Weddings.