Friday, October 21, 2011

Weddings for Charity: Creative Tightwaddery as a Trend

The trend has been around long enough that non-trend-following types can safely take it seriously. The Top Ten Tips for Planning a Charity Wedding were taken from a Kingsport Daily News feature section in 2009; I'm sure AC would have appreciated the article if I'd found time to post it in 2009--but I didn't. Anyway, charity weddings are still trendy. Here, especially in view of e-friend Yvonne Leehelen Dowell's article on this theme, is the story:

One rule for wedding celebrations is constant: Middle-aged people are supposed to keep them quiet. A few relatives as witnesses, a minister or justice of the peace, a dark suit and some sort of dress (not white), are all we're expected to splurge on.
This year, however, my local newspapers are acknowledging the reality that a lot of June brides and bridegrooms won’t be fresh out of school. As the Daily News puts it, “By the time many couples get married, they often don’t need an extra toaster.”
That’s putting it mildly. It’s not just that the modern first-time bride and bridegroom may have lived alone and furnished their own homes for ten years, before they married and tried to pack two houses full of supplies into one house. Consider the possibilities for the second-time bride and bridegroom who, while living in that house cluttered with both of their favorite things, inherited even more household paraphernalia from their first spouses and older relatives.

So older couples are at the front of the trend for using weddings to support the couple’s favorite charity. Although I remember seeing this start in the 1990s, when suddenly everyone who was anyone in Washington wanted to be identified with a charity and some socialites actually met through the organizations they supported, it wasn’t exactly new or unheard-of even then; just a formerly quirky idea that had become trendy, and is now, apparently, going mainstream. As the newspaper story sweetly suggests, for couples who did not meet through a mutual interest in the same charity, “coming up with a list [of organizations both are willing to support] can provoke some meaningful conversations about values.”
Here, collected from the Daily News, Kingsport Times-News, and Virginia Star, are ten fashionable ideas for the Creative Tightwad wedding. I am not making these up. I’m not claiming that they sound as romantic, even to me, as the extravagant wedding parties that older ladies used to offer to stage for brides, coordinating everything “just so” for a modest additional fee. But each generation likes its own fashions, so here is what trendy young things are doing these days:
1. Go all out and ask your guests to make donations instead of buying objects. If you want a display of gifts at the reception, pick an organization that gives donors nice-looking thank-you cards.
2. Buy food and drinks that come in ordinary-sized packages. In the twentieth century, serving Entenmann’s (or Little Debbie’s) cakes and cans of ginger ale at a wedding reception would have been considered tacky. In the twenty-first century, if your charity distributes food to those in need, you can get away with announcing that any unopened boxes and cans will be donated to the cause. You could even invite guests to add their own unopened cereal boxes and bean tins to a collection table.
3. Decorate with live flowers and potted plants. After the wedding, donate them all to your favorite hospital(s) and/or nursing home(s). (In some places a battered women’s shelter might be a good beneficiary for leftover plants and flowers, too. In the Kingsport area, there aren’t enough battered women to enjoy them; there are lots of retirement homes.)
4. Buy the wedding supplies from stores and companies that advertise their donations to charities you support.
5. Donate the bridesmaids’ dresses to a charity that resells clothes. The Daily News even mentioned “an organization that supplies prom dresses to girls who can’t afford them.” You can do it online at
6. Register the wedding at You can send invitations with a charitable organization’s motifs on them electronically, or print and mail them, so people will know exactly what you’re asking them to support.
7. Make many small donations to a charity that gives pretty thank-you cards, on behalf of your guests, and give them the cards as party favors. Of course, this will be easy if you donate e-money to a charity from whose web page you can print official thank-you cards at your own expense.
8. Economize on decoration, invitation, favors, and food by choosing a color that gives a coordinated look to relatively cheap supplies. Why serve caviar when it would only clash with your “milk chocolate brown” theme? This idea has actually attracted a corporate sponsor. The Wilton school of cake decoration, many of whose products have been reviewed by AC’s Freakmamma, has produced a book called Wilton Wedding Style that suggests how to coordinate and decorate food in your color theme.
9. Sample a house style, or even a subdivision. If you’re in the market for a new or renovated house, some enterprising builders are actually offering a night or weekend in a sample of the kind of house they hope to sell you! For example, if you want a newly constructed log cabin with updated interior design, you can visit online to plan a honeymoon in scenic, mostly non-touristy Lee County, Virginia.
10. And, take care of business. The nineteenth-century bride wasn’t supposed to bother her pretty little head with concerns about insurance, prenuptial agreements, or checking accounts (and wasn’t given credit for being intelligent enough to be trusted with a joint checking account); that was the sort of thing her father was supposed to work out with her fiancé. The twentieth-century bride might have been excused for letting dreams of romance fill her thoughts for at least the first year after the wedding. The twenty-first-century bride, however, is expected to respond to ads for “FREE New Joint Checking Accounts” alongside the ads for “Beautiful Bridal Parties” and “Party Furniture Rentals.” The local newspapers don’t advertise medical supplies, such as birth control supplies, but recently a trendy 19-year-old who’s not even planning to marry a close relative of mine started telling me about the thought process that had guided her to choose a diaphragm!
Yes, Gentle Readers, that’s what they’re doing. This year’s June brides have an unprecedented choice. Do you want an oldfashioned, retro, even quaint wedding with toasters and coordinated pickle forks in factory-sealed packages...or a “Green” Tightwad wedding with computer-graphic gift cards? Long-stemmed roses, or green-bound checkbooks printed on recycled paper?
SOURCE QUOTED: Kingsport Daily News, May 8, 2009 page B-8