There are two ways of donating money to charity during your wedding. Since it is your special day, guests should be understanding for the most part, as long as you are upfront about what you are planning to do. You can ask guests to donate to a charity in lieu of purchasing a wedding gift. This is common for marriages where the bride and groom already have needed household items. Another idea is to inform guests you will not be giving out wedding favours, but donating that money to a charity instead.
Include a statement in the invitation. The easiest way to ask guests to donate to charity instead of giving a gift is to put a small statement on the invitation. The wording should be simple and to the point. For example, you might write: "Gregory and Laura ask that you donate to Susan G. Komen for the Cure cancer fund in lieu of a wedding gift."
Another option is to include a small insert with the invitation that explains why you are asking for donations to a favourite charity to help celebrate your special day.
Donate a set amount to charity instead of purchasing favours for your wedding guests. Favours such as small cakes to take home, little boxes of candies and bottles of bubbles can add up in cost. Instead of spending several hundred dollars on these favours, announce at the reception that you've donated that money to a special cause. Most wedding guests will understand and applaud your efforts. You may want to have small, inexpensive favours for any children attending the wedding, as they often look forward to favours and won't understand as easily. For the adults, a small slip of paper that says a certain amount has been donated also works well.
When asked what you want, request a donation. Many guests and family members will ask ahead of time what they should purchase for you. This is a good time to tell them that you would prefer a donation. It is best to let the gift giver decide the amount they would like to donate to the charity, so don't ask for a set amount or hint at what others have given. Explain why you want them to donate and leave the rest up to them.
Some guests will still insist on bringing a gift. Accept these gifts gracefully. You can always return them later, quietly, and donate that amount to charity.