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Donations or Dishes? Setting Up a Charitable Wedding Registry

By Keely Hendrickson, Development Assistant, Charities Review Council


Oh, the wedding registry – I never knew it would be such an emotion-inducing, controversial beast.

My fiancé, Aaron, and I met as long-term volunteers at The Working Boys’ Center in Quito, Ecuador. We have spent the four years since organizing events in the Twin Cities to support and remain connected to the families there. So when planning our wedding, it only seemed appropriate to somehow honor the organization that brought us together and provided such a strong foundation for our relationship.

We considered making a donation in lieu of wedding favors, or sending the money collected from a “dollar dance” at our reception to the organization. After much deliberation, we found the idea of the donation gift registry to work the best for us. Little did we know, it wouldn’t necessarily work the best for everyone.

We are fortunate to have many material belongings, and there is very little room in our 700-square-foot apartment for a “might need/want/use someday” stockpile. But, while our dear family and friends understand the importance of The Working Boys’ Center in our lives, we quickly realized they also wanted to be able to contribute items to help us build our home together. Ultimately, we came up with a solution to honor our own expectations, values and desires, and those of our loved ones too.

We contacted the director of the Working Boys’ Center and she set up a link on their website (http://www.workingboyscenter.org/). We included a note with our invitations, explaining our story and offering guests the option to make a donation in honor of our wedding. We also registered for a few key traditional gift items that we know will serve us well for years to come. This information was included on our shower invitations.

With just a few days to go until the big day, we are so excited to have received a matching set of dishes we picked out from my generous aunts and uncles. We also love the crystal cheese knob, whirly-pop popcorn maker, and personalized photo album unexpectedly given to us from wonderful friends. And, we are extremely touched that so many of our wedding guests have already donated hundreds of dollars to the school in Ecuador, where it all began.

If you are getting married, celebrating a birthday, or another life milestone, consider donating your time or resources to your favorite charity in honor of your guests. As a guest, perhaps you might purchase a GiveMN gift card or make a donation in honor of your loved one’s special occasion.

Most importantly, know that there are many options in the world of gift registries these days, and finding the one, or perhaps a combination of a few, that works the best for you is a roller coaster worth riding.