Replacing tchotchkes and edibles with donations and outreach

This story first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Columbus Weddings, published December 2018.

While it’s always fun for wedding guests to find a custom iced cookie or tin of mints neatly wrapped beside their reception place card, some Central Ohio couples are swapping traditional trinkets for a gesture that generates a longer-lasting impact. For instance, philanthropically minded pairs may opt to make a donation to a good cause of their choice, in honor of their wedding guests (either individually or collectively).

Before Kelly and Chadwick Kulchar were married on July 13 at Vue Columbus, they considered a number of alternatives to traditional wedding favors. “We tossed around different items we could have at all the seats for the guests, but we wanted it to be even more meaningful than a tangible gift,” Chadwick explains. “Kelly’s mom, Laura, came up with the idea to donate the money to a charity, and we immediately fell in love with the idea.”

From there, the couple landed on the perfect recipient for the donation: a local charity called A Touch of Grace. Created by the bride’s cousin Grace Pflaum at the age of 10 (along with her parents), the nonprofit organization assembles and delivers care packages to the homeless across the Greater Columbus area each month.

“We were a little nervous and unsure how some people would react to this idea, but we knew this is what we wanted to do,” Kelly says. “When asking immediate family members how they would feel about the idea, we got the confirmation that we needed to follow our passion for helping others.” On the actual day, they were relieved to find that their guests were fully supportive and delighted by their decision. “Everyone seemed so touched and happily surprised when they heard where the favor money had gone. Our guests kept commenting on what an amazing young woman Grace is and how impressive it is that she has such a drive to help others,” Kelly recalls.

More importantly, the Kulchar wedding’s monetary donation helped fund one of A Touch of Grace’s monthly outings, which connected hundreds of local homeless individuals with food, clothing and essentials.

If their generous example inspires you to consider a philanthropic alternative to traditional wedding favors, here are a few simple tips to help execute the gesture with elegance:

Choose a cause close to your heart. Make sure the nonprofit is legitimate and reputable before committing to a donation. Donations can be made in the names of each individual guest or as one lump sum. For the latter, preferred wording for the donation dedication is “in honor of your attendance on our wedding day.” To help the gift feel more tangible and meaningful to guests, consider presenting them with personalized favor cards explaining which organization you chose, why you chose it and how the donation will make an impact. Include a web address where guests can visit later to learn more about the organization and its mission.