4 Ways to Have a Socially Responsible Wedding

PHOTO: Couples who serve One Hope wine varietals at their wedding can feel good, as various nonprofits reap the proceeds.

Approximately 33 percent of yearly engagements take place over the holidays, according to WeddingWire. If you fall into that happy category, congratulations! This is an exciting time.

It can also be an expensive time. In 2013, the Knot reported that the average cost of a wedding for a couple in the United States was $28,400. And for some couples, those figures can feel excessive, or wasteful. Fortunately, with a few careful decisions, there are ways to make sure that some of your wedding selections extend beyond your special day and give back to the environment or to others. Here are four choices to consider:

Wine with a Cause According to experts, the bulk of most couples' wedding-related spending typically goes to food and drink at the reception. But wouldn't it be nice to know that with every clinking glass of wine, your guests would be contributing to a nonprofit or charity you support? By serving wine from One Hope Weddings, they can do just that. Each varietal under the label donates proceeds to a different charity. For example, every case sold of One Hope sparkling cuvee "feeds 100 children through the organization Share our Strength," and for every bottle of One Hope Sauvignon Blanc sold, "a tree is planted on its behalf through American Forests." Every case of One Hope Pinot Noir provides a forever home to a shelter animal in need through the ASPCA. We'll toast to that.

Bridal Gear That Gives Back Toms' "one for one" mission of donating a pair of shoes to a child for every pair purchased has made Toms a popular choice for everyday wear among socially conscious consumers. But not all are aware that the brand has a more upscale line devoted to weddings. Choose from black leather, vegan or canvas styles to pair with your bridal party's attire and know that someone, somewhere far away has happier feet because of it.

Designer Gowns Doing Good With so much focus placed on the bride, many women choose to wear a designer gown down the aisle. But just because you love couture doesn't mean you can't be philanthropic too. The Bridal Garden is a nonprofit bridal boutique in New York City that resells sample gowns donated by designers such as Vera Wang, Lela Rose, Angel Sanchez and others. The proceeds of each purchase go directly toward helping local children and their families through education and childcare. Another great option online is fairtradeweddingdress.com, which uses natural silks, nontoxic dyes, minimal-impact techniques and promotes socially responsible business practices that support women.

Flower Power After the bridal bouquet has been thrown, what will happen to your remaining flower arrangements? If any are still in good shape, consider donating them to a local organization that will repurpose them for hospitals, nursing homes or other rehabilitation centers. Petals With Purpose in Palm Beach County, Fla., even creates place cards alerting wedding guests of the donation, coordinates pickup and sends letter indicating the market value of your donation for tax purposes. If you don't live near such an organization, consider composting. In some cases, your florist can do it for you.

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