Extra Ways To Help Animals With Your Wedding

Once you have all your big decisions handled (wedding planner, caterer, photographer, florist, etc.), it’s time to focus on the fun extra details! Some of these ideas came from my own wedding, some came from other inspirational couples, and some are things I wish I’d done but either ran out of time/money to accomplish or just hadn’t thought of them yet! I hope you’re able to add a few of these compassionate extra touches to your love-filled celebration!

Fleece Blankets For Shelter Pets

wedding blankets keep guests warm and donate to shelters
Photo from my wedding by Meigan Canfield

etsy wooden to have and to hold wedding sign for blankets for shelter petsIf you’re having a wedding in one of the colder months, like we did last October, be prepared for chilly weather. We ended up purchasing three 24-packs of these 50×60 fleece blankets, which many guests ended up using during our outdoor ceremony in 56° F windy weather. We made our own sign reading “To have and to hold, in case you get cold,” but if you’re not into DIY projects, you can buy a similar one here on Etsy!

After the wedding was over, we donated ours to two local animal shelters that were in need of donations. A warm, cozy blanket can make a world of difference to an animal stuck in a kennel, and it feels great to know that your wedding can play a small role in providing that comfort. If you’re unsure about where to donate your wedding blankets, I’d start by reaching out to your local city shelter (the Petfinder directory is pretty comprehensive). If you’re in Southern California, I recommend bringing your blankets to an Operation Blankets of Love drop off location. Finally, you can reach out to your local Pets of the Homeless drop off site to ask if they accept donations of blankets.

 Wedding Favors That Benefit Animals

If you haven’t been to a wedding in recent years, you might not be aware that “wedding favors” are now a thing. Remember getting birthday party favors when you were little? This is basically like that, but more expensive and for grownups. Wedding guests now expect a thoughtful little gesture of appreciation at each seat. Planning the favors can sometimes seem like a nuisance task to an overstressed bride, but fortunately for you, it’s just another opportunity to make a difference for animals and/or the environment! Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking:

Perennial Seeds For Pollinators: 

You probably know that our world’s pollinators (including bees, butterflies, birds, and bats) have been suffering from population decline in recent years. The suspected causes of this are plentiful, but it’s safe to assume that humans have contributed more negatively than positively to this issue. The good news is, it’s pretty easy to make a personal difference by planting pollinator-friendly flowers, either in your backyard or on an outdoor patio! At my wedding, I chose to give out organza bags full of native milkweed seeds, along with a card reading, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” I linked to my wedding website at the bottom of the card, so my guests could go online later and learn how/where/why to plant the seeds.

I chose milkweed seeds because of my passion for Monarch butterflies (milkweeds are host plants for Monarch caterpillars), but I’d really encourage you to choose any perennial flower that’s native to your area (or the region where most of your guests live). Native flowers are best, because your local insects will be more instinctively attracted to them; find location-based lists of local pollinator-friendly flowers here!

Grab organic, pollinator-friendly seeds on Amazon, through Botanical Interests, or your local garden supply store!

Vegan Chocolate Truffles (That Generate Funds For Animals!)

nicobella pure cocoa bliss - 7

Sweet treats are a very popular wedding favor, but rarely do these favors have an extra benefit! However, if you buy from Nicobella Organics, 5% of your purchase will be donated to animal rescue and advocacy organizations like Mercy for Animals, The Gentle Barn, Noah’s Ark, and A Place to Bark! Buy in bulk for the best pricing! You can play around with packaging and messaging, but click here for some design inspiration on (where else?) Pinterest!

TisBest Donation Cards:

tisbest charity gift card wedding favor animal rescueIt’s not exactly revolutionary to give “the gift of giving”, but it’s usually a bit impersonal (i.e.: A card reading, “In lieu of favors, a donation in your name has been given to _________”). It’s thoughtful and kind, but doesn’t really make your guests feel like they got to be part of the process. TisBest gift cards, however, empower your guests to get involved and choose their own preferred non-profit! TisBest is already partnered with numerous animal advocacy organizations, but your guests can donate to any verified 501(c)(3) organization.

The cards are fully customizable, which means you can have them printed with your own image to make them extra personal! This could be a photo of you as a couple, or even photos of animals from local shelters. Each card comes with instructions for how your guests can submit their individual donation online (you choose the dollar amount for each card). In my opinion, the best wedding favors are those that spark conversation amongst your guests and, ideally, give them something to do while waiting for the buffet to open or for their first course to arrive. These cards do just that! Extra bonus: they’re printed on recycled plastic!

Donate Your Flowers To An Animal Shelter!

wedding floral arrangement sunflowers red greens donate
Flowers by MJM Designs, photo by Meigan Canfield

This is one idea I’m really bummed that I didn’t think about before my own wedding. I absolutely loved my flowers, but the next day, they were of course all gone- I have no idea where they ended up! I’ve since learned that many people make arrangements in advance to donate their wedding flowers to avoid waste and to ensure that their floral investment ends up going to good use.

If you’re ever been to a city run animal shelter, you probably know that most of them don’t have extra money in the budget for decor. This can lead to shelters feeling dark, dingy, and hopeless…basically, places that no one wants to spend much time in. As a result, shelters attract fewer potential adopters, and therefore are able to save fewer animals. Now, imagine how different the lobby and maybe even the shelter halls could look with splashes of color and vibrance from your lightly used wedding flowers!

To set this up, you’ll have to communicate in advance with your chosen shelter (click here to find your local animal shelters), and also discuss the idea with your florist. Usually, the florist comes back to your wedding at the end of the night for clean up, so he/she will need to agree to either load the used flowers into a friend or volunteer’s vehicle, or (if you get super lucky) perhaps your florist will make the delivery themselves! I’d imagine this service might be available for an extra fee.

“Advertise” Adoptable Pets on Table Numbers

wedding table numbers shelter dogs cats pets adoptable
Photo by Landon Jacob Photography, via Spencer Special Events

This is something I really wanted to do for my wedding, but we just ran out of time to make it happen. So, I’m hoping some of you will steal the idea! One of your final wedding planning chores will be to make a seating chart with guests assigned to a certain table number. Why not use this as an opportunity to raise awareness for local adoptable animals? Instead of #1, #2, #3, etc. try #1 (Sammy, 2 year old terrier mix), #2 (Charlotte, 5 year old Siamese cat), #3 (Harold, 12 year old chihuahua), and so on! Each table number can have a photo of the adoptable animal on one side, with information about his/her age, personality, and location on the back.

Depending on the resources your local shelter or rescue group has, you may or may not be able to get all of this information on their website. If not, make a day of visiting the shelter with your bridesmaids or groomsmen! You never know, some of them may just leave with a new buddy ;). Alternatively, talk to your photographer about visiting the shelter with you to get some real professional photos. If you’ve chosen a photographer from my animal-friendly vendor list, you may find an animal lover who will go either voluntarily or for a discounted rate!

Choose Vegan Wine, Beer, & Alcohol

wedding wines vegan 2
Wines served at my vegan wedding; photo by Meigan Canfield

You may or may not know that many wines, some beers, and the occasional hard liquor, are manufactured, filters, or fined with animal products like casein (milk protein), albumin (egg whites), isinglass (fish bladder), and gelatin (collagen from animal bones), but more and more companies are starting to use cruelty-free substances like bentonite (clay-based) and activated charcoal instead! If your venue or bartending company only offers a limited menu of alcohol selections for you to choose from, you can at least crosscheck the names on their list with the Barnivore directory to choose the most cruelty-free options.

If you have a little more freedom with your selections (many bartending companies will allow you to either make special requests through them or source and supply your own bottles for them to serve). Wine tends to be the trickiest category of booze, so I highly encourage you to start with my list of affordable and accessible vegan wines! I actually wrote that post after spending weeks doing research for my own wedding wines; fortunately for you, that work is already done!

Beers are pretty safe these days, vegan-wise. The last big holdout was Guinness, but even they ditched animal products in 2015! You’ll still want to double check the brands with Barnivore, but once that’s done, I’d recommend seeking out a few kinds options that raise money for animal rescues. For these purposes, check out Saint Arnold’s “Ale Wagger”, Metazoa Brewing Co., and Dingo Dog Brewing. For Vodka, check out Tito’s Vodka, whose employees frequently raise funds and awareness for rescue dogs.

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