Have you heard of The Charity Wedding? It’s an awe-inspiring blog, centered around an amazing idea. This Arizona couple wanted to do more than just have a wedding. So they decided to donate the money they were going to spend on their big day to three separate charities. And on top of that, they were still able to have a killer wedding. Make sure to read the brides story below – it will totally blow your mind. And the wedding! Forget about it. Sedona stunner. KD Event Designs was on hand for so much of the planning and design, and with Melissa Dunstan Photography behind the camera, it was a no-brainer, uber fantastic affair. KD Event Designs’ has more on their blog, so click here!
Kyle and I got engaged in July of 2009 while we were living in Iowa. He was attending school and set to graduate in October at which point we’d head back to Arizona, where we are both from. We decided not to do any wedding planning until we got back as we figured it would be much too difficult to plan long distance and since we wanted a fall wedding, there wasn’t a huge rush. We had a few blissful months of what I call stress-free wedding planning.
One night while laying in bed, Kyle sound asleep, I thought “What if we could make this wedding mean something more than just a party for ourselves, what if we could somehow take the money we would spend on this event and help other people with it instead, all while still having a wedding?” That next morning I presented the idea to Kyle, who looked at me with a furrowed brow and then did as he always does; supported the idea fully. This was likely because I mentioned the word wedding which was generally a queue for him to tune out and just agree; he had no idea what he was getting into!
I had recently been to a local bridal show and I emailed every single vendor as I thrashed through the bag of business cards and brochures I collected that day at the show. We set guidelines and a simple request: vendors would donate all or part of their time or service and we would in turn donate to charity instead.
The response was exciting. We received a lot of questions and many people were skeptical of our motives, but then there were some vendors who just seemed to get what we were trying to do. Just about everyone – vendors, family, and friends included – had never heard of a concept such as this and we all adapted and evolved as we went.
First on board was Melissa Dunstan, our photographer, who was one such vendor that never asked what was in it for her or questioned our motives. As an avid volunteer who is extremely charitably minded, she just thought it made sense which was a huge boost of confidence for us as we weren’t really sure if it did make sense or if it would to vendors. We didn’t want vendors doing it as a favor for us; we wanted them to come on board as if this was a joint effort to help others. Melissa was instrumental in helping us find other vendors including Kim Duncan of KD Event Designs, our event designer and Dana Micklos, our florist.
The more vendors we got on board and the more we talked about the process on our blog, the more receptive people became and before we knew it we had all our vendors. The process inspired and motivated us to do even more so we held various fund raisers and events to raise awareness for different charities along the way. We determined that the money from what would have been spent on the vendors would be divided among three charities: The American Heart Association, Second Chance Center for Animals, and Camp Soaring Eagle.
In terms of the wedding itself, it functioned exactly like a normal wedding. We selected Tequa plaza as our venue because it was outdoors and had a beautiful view from the roof top terrace where the reception was held. It was essentially a blank canvas which allowed Kim to do just about anything with the décor. We really wanted the natural beauty of Sedona to be the focus and all the details to just compliment that. We wanted sort of a vintage, handmade type feel so we scavenged thrift stores for vases and candle sticks and made a lot of little things like chalkboards, signage, and fabric flowers.
Our goal was also to spend as little money as possible to maximize what would go to charity at the end so we made cuts where necessary, used recycled items, and made whatever we could including the invitations. Kim did an excellent job of pulling all the random elements I gave her, with a bunch of random elements of her own to create the beautifully cohesive mix-matched look we were trying to achieve. I put a lot of trust and confidence in both Kim and Dana to do what they do best and didn’t give much instruction in terms of specific colors, flowers or design. I wanted them to be able to be creative and not be stifled by what I thought would look good. Many details including my bouquet were a complete surprise until the day of the wedding which was really fun for me and also it took a lot of the stress and pressure off me.
Family is really important to us and we wanted to incorporate them however we could. I wore my Grandmother’s necklace that she wore on her wedding day. She gave me that before I even had my dress and I literally designed the style of my dress around that necklace. We incorporated family wedding photos and my stepfather served as our minister. It was intimate and so special to include little bits of the people that are so important to our lives. An Etsy jewelry designer and friend, Carly Thomas, made cameo necklaces that I gave to my bridesmaids to tie us all together and to pass on a little bit of my wedding tradition on to them. Kyle’s family owns a restaurant and they provided all the food. The people that work at the restaurant have become an extended family and it made it feel even more intimate to be surrounded completely by only people we knew and loved.
My dress was custom made by a small local store, Victorian Cowgirl, and I wore a beautiful sash given to me by Marie of Emici Bridal as well as a hair piece designed by Marie. I felt absolutely beautiful and so honored to wear these pieces that were custom made just for me, for this day. The girl’s and I wore red shoes in an effort to bring awareness to heart disease and on our invitation we asked our female guests to wear red shoes as well. This was important to us because Kim, our event designer’s, mother died at a young age of heart disease and it was important to her that we incorporate that in some way. It was so fun to see all the ladies dancing in their red shoes! Plus no one complained that I gave them an excuse to go get new red shoes! Kyle and some of the groomsman wore Tom’s Shoes and I even had a pair once my heels got to be too much to handle!
The day was perfect in every way and without question our dream wedding. Due to the generous support of our vendors and our fund raising efforts we were able to donate over $6,000 to various charities. We feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to use our wedding to help others. Most weddings are over quickly, but we feel like the impact of our day lives on in the people we were able to help. I love weddings and all the details and this was meant in no way to make other people bad for spending money on their weddings. We truly believe a wedding should represent and reflect the couple. Many people do that through a theme, or through décor, for us creating a wedding centered around others was the way we wanted to represent ourselves through our wedding. We fully encourage all couples to figure out what will make their wedding unique to them and do it, regardless of what other people think. What we got out of doing our wedding this way was so much more than what we put in and we are so grateful for that.
Dress: Victorian Cowgirl / Hair Piece & Sash: Marie of Emici Bridal / Shoes: Me Too & Toms / Event Design and Planning: KD Event Designs / Photographer: Melissa Dunstan Photography / Floral: Glamorous Occasions / Caterer: Red Rock Café / Hair: Brides Sister, Erin McDonald / Venue: Tequa Plaza / Cake: Sedona Sweet Arts / Rentals: Classic Party Rentals / Cinematography: Taltos Productions