Wedding Favors That Give Back

Wedding favor cards via Bella Figura

Wedding favors can be one of those annoying little details that you put off until the very last minute. Why? Because they can be not only expensive, but hard to figure out in terms of what your guests might actually WANT versus not have the slightest interest in whatsoever. I’d seriously love to see a survey of how many guests actually take a wedding favor home with them. I can tell you that at our wedding (where our wedding favors were CD’s of our wedding music) we had less than half of our guests take a favor home with them, which can be kind of frustrating when you go out of your way to make sure they did. That’s why I think charitable wedding favors or donations made in lieu of traditional favors can be a good option. You’ve already put the money towards a good cause instead of towards something like, oh I don’t know, a chocolate company?

On some wedding boards there is a bit of discussion over whether or not giving a donation in lieu of wedding favors is the best way to go. I have to say that while I am generally a fan of donations, I can see both sides. A small part of me equates it to someone telling you they’ve made a donation in your name instead of giving you a Christmas gift (which I have honestly done for holiday gifts for my nieces and nephews before. Am I a terrible Aunt?) and the other part of me thinks it’s an extremely nice gesture that your guests will appreciate.

At the end of the day I think it’s a personal decision (and an honorable one at that), but if you do opt to give a wedding donation in lieu of a wedding favor, I think the more neutral the charity, the better (meaning it might not be a great idea to give to a controversial charity that someone might take issue with for whatever reason). However, I think the charities below fall into the neutral category and would be appreciated by MOST guests.

For those not completely comfortable with abandoning the wedding favor altogether, another option would be to give an actual wedding favor that is made by a charitable organization OR a smaller wedding favor of your own choosing that comes with a note stating you’ve also made a donation in your guest’s honor. Think of it as a half favor/half donation, which is a win-win in my eyes.

Note: When searching on charitable websites the easiest way to find notes or stickers or other tokens of your donation is typically to search their “In Honor Of” section. It’s not always easy to find.

Would you give a charitable donation in lieu of wedding favors? 

St. Jude

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which means there is no better time than now to donate to St. Jude, which happens to be one of my favorite charitable organizations. I used to volunteer at the hospital when I went to college in Memphis, and getting to know those amazing families and children receiving treatment there was such a gift. I try to donate to the organization every year, and wish I would have thought of donating to the hospital in lieu of or in addition to wedding favors for guests. If you’re interested in donating to St. Jude for your wedding, this sticker adorned to a small wedding favor (such as a keychain or bottle stopper) would be a great option.

You can personalize it with your names and wedding date, and the message below is included:

“”Thank you for being a part of our special day! We have made a donation in your honor to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.”

$100 is the minimum donation. According to St. Jude’s website, a donation of $250 could provide a red blood cell transfusion to a St. Jude patient.

Click here to order


Red Cross

You can make a donation online and let your guests know about it via printing your message on a Wedding Favor card created by your stationer (Bella Figura offers free letterpress favor cards for couples who have made donations in lieu of favors and spent $500 or more on wedding stationary) or by creating something a little more whimsical, like this fortune teller that includes your donation note (a printable PDF sold on Etsy for $25). If you have several charities you’d like to donate to and want to let guests decide which one they prefer, you can always place a checkmark besides each one and have guests turn them in.



Arbor Day Foundation

Gift a tree from the Arbor Day Foundation for guests to plant in their own backyard. Each clear tube comes with instructions for how to plant and care for the tree, and each one is guaranteed to grow. You can leave a message in the tube thanking guests as well as include any quote or saying you want.

Price: $280 for a custom black and white label and 80 Ponderosa Tree Tubes. Click here for more info.


There are so many great charities out there, but here a few more that come to mind that would make great donations in lieu of wedding favors:

Make-a-Wish Foundation

American Cancer Society

Heifer International

Meals on Wheels

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