Doing Good with your Wedding Reception

Emma Frankart Henterly
Danielle and Craig Van Aelst pose in front of Kelton House, where their wedding and reception took place.

Service-minded couples making donations in their guests' names in lieu of favors is nothing new. But for socially conscious to-be-weds, there are ways to ensure that their nuptials have a positive impact on the community as well by turning to nonprofit venues and social enterprises to cater and host their events.

“We are very thankful for the wedding business,” says Georgeanne Reuter, director of the Kelton House Museum in Downtown Columbus. “It really does provide us with a significant income that helps us to pursue our mission.” The Kelton House Museum and Garden, a service of the nonprofit Junior League of Columbus, interprets urban life and decorative arts as they relate to 19th-century Columbus, Reuter explains. “Basically, we're educators about history, and we focus on the time period of 1850 to 1900.”

Weddings at the Kelton House support the organization's educational tours and lectures, including a principle program that educates elementary school children about the Underground Railroad. (The Kelton House's original owners, Fernando Cortez and Sophia Stone Kelton, were major players in the local abolitionist movement.)

Weddings at the Kelton House also support ongoing maintenance of the building and grounds themselves, Reuter adds. “In any building that was built in 1852, you are constantly working to preserve and make sure that it's going to be here in another 50 or 100 years,” she says.

The L.A. Catering and Event Center, located just west of the Brewery District, is technically a for-profit component of the not-for-profit LifeCare Alliance. “One hundred percent of the profits go back to LifeCare. We are owned and operated by LifeCare as well,” says Holly Butcher, executive catering and sales manager for L.A. Catering. “A good way to put it is we're a social enterprise.”

Events at the venue, which was remodeled this year, support such LifeCare Alliance programs as Meals on Wheels, senior dining and wellness centers, home health aides and more.

Those with a passion for the arts would do well to consider hosting their wedding ceremonies or receptions at the Columbus Museum of Art or the Ohio, Southern or Lincoln theaters.

The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts owns the Ohio and Southern theaters and manages the Lincoln. CAPA spokeswoman Rolanda Copley says that hosting your ceremony and/or reception in one of these spaces supports local arts performances, allows CAPA to bring nationally touring productions to town and helps fund preservation of the historic buildings themselves.

Similarly, a wedding at the Columbus Museum of Art supports its mission to bring major exhibitions to Central Ohio. “A huge one from last year was Picasso; to bring as many Picassos as we brought to Columbus is fantastically expensive, as you can imagine—the insurance and everything involved with an exhibition like that,” says Melissa Ferguson, director of marketing and communications for the museum. “The monies that are raised from when people have events here go to support bringing the best exhibitions out there to Columbus.” Among them for the current season is Beyond Impressionism, through Jan. 21, 2018—a collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. CMA is the only U.S. stop on the exhibition's tour.

Weddings at the museum also support its youth and family programs, Ferguson adds. Open studios, activities in the JPMorgan Chase Center for Creativity and a tour program for fifth-graders in Columbus City Schools are among the museum's many educational outreach programs.

And for STEM-minded couples? Ceremonies and receptions at COSI are not only beautiful and fun, they also support the science center's mission to provide an exciting, educational venue to better understand science, industry, health and history.