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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Destination Wedding Charity: Changing the World one Wedding at a Time!

Words by Courtney Kellar
Words by Courtney Cox
Photos courtesy of, in order, Dustin Frazier & Room to Read

At a recent meeting with Destination I Do Magazine staffers, we all took note of how couples are getting more and more inventive when it comes to their destination wedding style, honeymoons, registries and much more. One such example is how couples are choosing to incorporate charitable donations into their weddings in lieu of favors or wedding gifts. Consequently, many charities have begun creating gift registries which are catered specifically toward weddings. One such charity is Room to Read, which focuses on literacy and gender equality in education.


Rather than asking your guests to give a cash amount which you will donate at a later time, Room to Read has a detailed registrywhich allows your guests to know exactly where their charitable donation is going. For example:

-          $1 to publish one local language children’s book
-          $20 to provide a year of weekly life skills training for one girl
-          $50 to provide a bicycle for a girl to travel to school safely
-          $100 to provide weekend academic support
-          $250 to allow one deserving girl to attend school for a year with materials, tools and support


All donations go toward the charity’s mission of developing literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and to support girls in completing secondary school with the life skills they’ll need to succeed. Room to Read works with communities and local governments across Asia and Africa and adapt their programs to suit the local context in order to have the maximum effect. 

Not only does Room to Read have a universal message, but they’re a reputable organization which has been around for over a decade. The organization has received recognition within the nonprofit and corporate sectors and has been featured in The New York Times, Financial Times and on CBS News.

Interested? If so, you and your guests’ donations won’t go unutilized. In fact, Room to Read offers the unique opportunity for couples to travel and see their donations in action. Site visits may include a visit to a Room to Read school, library or a short visit with students in a Girls’ Education program. Site visits take place in countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, South Africa and Sri Lanka, just to name a few. All of this may sound good on paper, but is a charitable wedding registry something which can truly make a difference?


The answer is yes, and we have one couple’s true story to prove it. When Vineeta and Praveen were planning their big Indian wedding in 2007, they knew their many guests would be very generous with gifts. In lieu of traditional gifts, the couple requested cash donations toward building a school in Nepal in order to pass on the power of education. The couple succeeded in raising the money necessary and has since created classrooms for 1,200 kids to-date. Not only that, but they created a ripple amongst their friends and family who have also been inspired to give back, support education and provide hope for children around the World. Even today the couple continues to receive donations for Room to Read to go toward schools or girls’ scholarships. 

Hopefully this post has inspired you to make your destination wedding not just about you and your soon-to-be-spouse, but about making a difference in the World. There’s nothing wrong with staying the traditional route of a wedding registry, but perhaps make a small contribution on behalf of each guest in lieu of wedding favors? The overall message is, a wedding is an opportunity to not only celebrate the love you and your spouse share, but to possibly make a difference. For more information about creating your own charitable registry or to make a contribution to Room to Read, visit roomtoread.org.

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