The nickname bridezilla has become a common curse word in the wedding dictionary. Ensure that this nasty name does not step foot near your wedding by spreading joy and goodwill further than simply the guests sitting at your tables.  From donating your flowers to local hospitals to requesting charitable donations as gifts, couples are finding creative ways to transform their weddings from a party for two into a charitable event geared towards both celebrating and helping to improve the lives of others simultaneously.

Contribute Your Leftovers To A Food Rescue Program

Make the most out of your wedding’s leftovers. Over six million tonnes of perfectly good food is thrown away annually in Canada – but with a little help you can put your reception dinner to a much better use than a dumpster.

Do your research first; though most food banks only deal with non-perishable food items and any of the food not being used at a wedding would fall under that heading, food rescue programs welcome both perishable and non-perishable foods to feed people experiencing hunger.

Food rescue programs, like Second Harvest Food Rescue in Toronto, will take your surplus food from the reception and deliver it to a wide variety of people in need that same day.

Second Harvest, the main provider of fresh food to people in need in Toronto, has delivered millions of pounds of rescued food that would otherwise go to waste to over 200 social service agencies since opening in 1985.

The social service agencies that receive food include children in breakfast programs, women fleeing domestic abuse, newcomers to Canada, homeless people, those struggling with addiction, seniors on fixed incomes, those facing mental illness, those affected by the recession and many others who have fallen on hard times.

Send Your Flowers to those Who Need a Smile

Help brighten the days of others by donating your beautifully crafted centrepieces and flowers to those that could use a little sunshine. Senior homes, hospitals, women shelters, clinics and community centres welcome flower donations and ensure that your expensive arrangements aren’t tossed out way before their expiration date.

There are a number of services who will take care of the donations for you directly from your venue, or you can arrange with your florist or wedding planner to designate a drop-off location post wedding.

Donate your Dresses to a Foundation

Though everyone tells you that you can shorten it and wear it again, anyone who has ever been a bridesmaid knows that that Tiffany blue satin party dress will never touch your body again in this lifetime.

Instead of watching your closet fill with formal wear that will only gather dust, locate a charitable foundation that will take your dresses and donate them to women who do not have the budgets to purchase elaborate gowns for their events.

Prom Project, created by the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Foundation, is a one day, two site location event that was created to assist students in need of formal wear for their proms, graduations and other special events so they can attend their events feeling confident and proud.

Prom Project promotes a positive and inclusive environment, created to support those students with formal needs who may choose not to attend their special event because of financial challenges. All items are new or gently used from the private and business communities and are free of charge to all those in need of an outfit.

Feel the fulfillment of knowing that your bridesmaid gown has made a young woman happy and confident at her school’s formal – one that she may not have otherwise attended without the perfect dress.

Ask for Charitable Donations Instead of Gifts and Vice Versa

When it comes time to head to the Bay’s gift registry to sign up for the customary cook wear set you already have plenty of, change course and choose to donate instead of receive.

As a couple, select a charitable foundation or cause you are passionate about and request that your guests make a donation to them on your behalf instead of investing in another gift for the two of you.

And then do the same for your guests. Opt out of giving standard wedding favours, which the vast majority leaves behind at the table, and give your guests a charity gift card. It’s simple—you make the donation and they select the charity. Companies like CanadaHelps offer charity gift cards that you can give as gifts that allow guests to choose any Canadian charity they care about to receive the funds you have put on their card.

CanadaHelps allows card recipients to choose from a list of over a hundred major charities all of which are organized into 13 different categories including: children’s charities, causes for health and disease and environmental and disaster-relief organizations, so every recipient will be able to find a cause that is close to their heart.

Choose a Venue that Gives Back to the Community

Support local non-profits when choosing a venue to host your wedding. Pick a reception location owned by a non-profit, such as a nature preserve, university or museum, where the rental proceeds will go back to either the community or a good cause.

Websites like Banquet Halls of Ontario map out event facilities and venues in your area that are not-for-profit. Banquet Halls of Ontario as well provides contact information, photos of the venue, details on capacity and additional information for planning your event so you can make an informed decision and ensure your money is going to a good cause.

Written By: Gabrielle Tieman