Originally posted on Polka Dot Bride October 15th, 2008

Today is Blog Action Day, all over the web you’ll see thousands blogs all uniting for one cause in the hope to make a difference. (See last year’s entry here.) This year, the subject is poverty.

Weddings and poverty is a bit of a strange combination, the two don’t really go hand in hand. But there are ways you can address poverty at your wedding, there are ways you can make a difference and take action. With all the miscellaneous spending, offset it by contributing to the bigger picture.

There is so much to say to conquer poverty that today’s post is only a small part of it.

Give Charitable Gifts

Consider giving gifts of charity donations to your wedding party in lieu of material items.

Kiva Gift Certificate

A charity like Kiva is using micro finance to help entrepreneurs in poverty stricken nations build their businesses and get ahead. The money you donate gets paid back to you as loans are repaid, allowing you to reinvest the money. Kiva offers gift certificates too which are a great idea for gifts for your bridal party. Recipients can choose how they want to spend their Kiva dollars and they are able to get involved in the process too.

Other ideas include heading to your chosen charity’s shop (or online!) and check out their goods. Oxfam especially sells a lot of items like decorative teapots, homewares and decorative items.

Have A Charity Wedding Registry

This is a debatable topic but one I think is worthwhile pursuing if this is something you feel is important. Instead of presents at your wedding, you could do this by asking for donations or asking guest to contribute to “gifts”.

World Vision allows you to put together a registry which allows your guests to pick items themselves to gift in many price ranges. Guests are able to pick a range of items from chickens to water and sanitation.

Donate Your Wedding Favors

Instead of spending money per person on gifts for your guests, consider spending the same amount and donating it to a charity. Leave a note for each guest to let them know where you’ve donated.

You could also consider buying charity items such as armbands, badges or ribbons to give to each guest.

Donate After The Wedding

A great place to start with poverty is close to home. Donating your wedding dress, bridesmaids dresses and odds and ends to local charitable organisations or special gown donation organisations means someone who isn’t as fortunate as you can benefit. Also look at other things you’ve used- flowers and decorations and consider where you can donate them.

There are some organisations who will pickup left over food and give it to those who are unable to afford food through soup kitchens and deliveries. Contact your local council to see if there are any in your area. In Melbourne, Australia try One Umbrella and Second Bite.

Hold A Charity Bucks/Bachelor/Hen’s/Bachelorette Party

Instead of having party goers spend dollars on a night at a club, why not approach your local sporting club for a charity day? A lot of local sporting clubs will hold charity events with you for a good cause.

Perhaps you could start the day working off the pre-wedding sugar treats by hitting the pavement in a charity walk. If you’re up for an action packed adventure, create a team and join in a charity event like Oxfam Trail Walker. Have some fun while you’re at it getting all your friends and your workplace to pitch in and donate to the worthy cause!

If a trek seems like a little too much exercise, hold a fundraising event instead, Have a fancy dress night and invite guests to donate money instead of buying traditional shower or hen’s gifts.

Spend a day at the races and raise money from your wins on the horses.

Keep your eye out for movie nights- they often include a screening of the latest flick, goodie bags and drinks and the entry fee is donated to charity. A great night out!

Use Charitable Purchases

Thank you Card from Cards4Kids

Purchase items such as Barnardos cards ( Cards4Kids) to use as your thank you cards and pass out white Make Poverty History wristbands to help identify your guests as a wedding group.

Head to charity stores like Oxfam to purchase different music CDs and play it in the background during your ceremony, cocktail hour and dinner for a unique flavour.

Support Farmers

There is no doubt that Australian farmers have done it tough the past few years, with some just scraping by if that. Use local farm produce for your wedding. Take the time to drive and source produce from your local area. Use wine from local wineries, fresh cheeses, fruit and flowers- you may be surprised at what you find if you delve and ask locally.

Also look at the Aussie Helpers charity which is designed to help those severely affected by the drought.

For a wider approach serve fair trade coffee and chocolate!

Use A Charity Associated Bank

While I don’t promote putting wedding purchases on a credit card, unfortunately it is a fact of life. Some charities have partnered with banks and a percent of all your purchases will be donated

Save The Children has a partnership with American Express and donates money from your purchases to the charity. You could also choose a credit card where reward points are able to be donated to charity.

Also look at other banking products (again if you must!) Bendigo Bank has partnered with Oxfam and will donate a commission from a loan (if you quote certain codes) to Oxfam. (Find more details here) and a cash management account (Details here).

Book Hotel Accommodation

Make use of the partnerships charities have with corporate companies . Some charities and hotels have teamed up offering donations on bookings. Encourage guests to book at the relevant hotels to make a difference. Plan Australia donates money from every Accor hotel room booked. Look at your chosen charity website for ways you can contribute.

Take A Honeymoon

Although a dream honeymoon for many may be snoozing on the beach in Hawaii, consider taking a trip where you can make a difference.

Build Homes In Costa Rica

I-to-I offers what they pen as “meaningful travel” where for a fee, you can travel to some of the world’s poorest countries (most expenses such as food and accommodation are included in the price excluding flights) and help out. Opportunities include building homes in Kenya, community work in Ghana, working with orphans in the Philippines and a whole lot more. I-To-I has a range of destinations, trip purposes and time periods to pick from and all the information you need is laid out clearly on their website.

If you still plan on taking a traditional honeymoon, Oxfam has partnered with World Nomads to provide donations for travel insurance taken out. (Find more information here)

Today has been only a small glimpse at what you can do in amongst the wedding planning to help end poverty. I think no matter how you help, no matter what you do – you’ll make a difference.

Australian charities (or charities with Australian arms) dedicated to changing poverty include: