Charity: Giving as a Wedding Professional

It’s not easy saying no but  oftentimes, it’s the secret to one’s sanity. We say no to fabulous projects when we’re already stretched for finding time to even sleep. We say no to friends’ baby showers because we have weddings to work. We may say it often, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

The hardest for me, however, is saying no to charities. As someone who devoted a year to service in Americorps, charity work is something close to me. I’ll be the first to admit it’s completely selfish- it makes me feel good to know I’m making a difference somehow. So it’s never been the best feeling in the world when I’ve had to turn something down- whether it be a financial contribution or an opportunity to volunteer my time. I find myself surrounded by wildly generous wedding pros- those who provide services that could really make a difference to one non profit or another. Time and time again, they run across the same issue- because inundated with requests from what seems to be every local charity for an in kind donation or service.

So here, the toughest of questions lie- how does one exactly navigate those waters? After all, we can only give so much. But how do you tell someone that?

One of the best pieces of advice I received back in my reception venue days was regarding this. I crossed paths with a company that had the simplest of solutions- they picked two non profits a year and they dedicated what time and resources they could to supporting these great organizations. They’d keep all requests on file for future consideration but the rest would be turned down, and promised to be considered for another year.

Very early on, I made the decision to support two charities a year with OFD Consulting- one in honor of a dear friend of myself and my husband’s (who happens to be my accountant!) cause and another to an animal charity I select each year.  There are times when certain stories move me to make additional donations happen, but otherwise, I try to narrow my focus to what I can do within my limits- be it time or finances. When requests come in above and beyond that, I simply share that while I certainly wish I could assist, I have already selected my two charities in which I donate for the year. And honest to goodness, everyone I’ve ever had to let down, has always respected my response.

It’s no secret that I’m a self professed cat lady, so the fact that I spent the better part of the last couple of months trying to (humanely) trap a neighborhood feral cat so he could get neutered and updated on his shots, would not exactly be a shocking revelation to my friends. The local non profit I worked with was positively fabulous- so helpful to my challenging situation and ever so patient as they continued to reschedule my appointments after my many failed attempts. So this year, they became one of our two charities- in honor of my friend Stacey, who passed away six years ago from breast cancer at the age of 38.  She was one of my first friends here in Richmond when I moved in 2003, and she introduced me to my fateful partner in crime Bella, the wildly unsocial misfit runt of a cat. In return, I promised to honor her memory each year.

So it’s not easy saying no, but I find that my commitment to two charities annually, has made it a bit easier to turn down what I’m simply not able to do. And I keep the above reminder close to me to remember that.

Do you find yourself in a position where you are often being asked to donate? How do you handle it? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. She is the exclusive wedding pr columnist to wedding marketing journal WedLock magazine and is a highly sought after speaker in the wedding industry. She loves ruffle table runners and Royal Wedding Tchotchkes. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you with your wedding marketing and wedding pr, please contact us today.

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Meghan Ely

Regarded as one of the leading wedding publicists in the US, Meghan Ely combines in-the-trenches event experience with a love of wedding PR. She has earned coverage for her clients with the New York Times, People, Brides, Bridal Guide, The Knot, Martha Stewart Weddings, CNN Money, and more. She is a WeddingPro Expert and long-time contributor to and