The wedding industry is lucrative, so lucrative that in the U.S. alone, weddings are a $100 billion industry with the practically prerequisite registries that accompany them encompassing $20 billion of that market. How much of that money goes to promoting humanitarian causes you may ask? Well . . . off the top of our heads philanthropy isn’t the first thing that comes to mind for most when thinking about walking down the aisle. We know your wedding day is supposed to be your day, but how about making it a little less me, me, me and a little bit more about giving back to the world while simultaneously celebrating the fact that you’ve been lucky enough to find love.
Cue Beth Helmstetter of Beth Helmstetter Events, a boutique company specializing in intimate and approachable events and the founder of The Good Beginning, an online charitable donation registry where couples can start their marriage on the right foot with philanthropy. We fell in love with the concept from the moment we heard about it, so we talked to the humanitarian, business woman, and wedding aficionado behind this great wedding tool to find out what sparked the idea and how it all works. Here’s what she had to say . . .
Photo: Courtesy of In Good Company
How did you come up with the idea for The Good Beginning?
I’ve spent much of my personal time devoted to volunteering with various local organizations here in Los Angeles as well as around the world. In 2010, my church organized a mission trip to Haiti to provide relief for the communities that had been impacted by the devastating earthquakes. My commitment to giving back was something many of my clients had echoed, in their own way, but were left without a clear route to do so. There was a glaring gap in the market for a specialized charitable platform designed to suit the needs of the soon-to-be married couples and their wedding guests. That steadfast pursuit, for my clients and so many others, has been the catalyst for The Good Beginning.
Can you tell us a little bit about your philanthropy background?
I’m from the Midwest and attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where I received my BA in non-profit administration. My early career was spent learning the basics of event management planning charity golf tournaments and fundraising events. Simultaneously, I worked part-time as a wedding coordinator for a local chapel/event venue where I discovered a deep connection to every aspect of weddings, from working with the couple to executing the final details of their day. Soon after, I jetted off to the beautiful island of Hawaii where I was the lead event planner at the Grand Wailea Resort on the island of Maui.
Photo: Courtesy of Lauren Ross
The website looks very well-designed and streamlined. How did you come up with the aesthetic?
In 11+ years since founding Beth Helmstetter Events , myself and the team have traveled around the globe from Bali to Paris to Korea, Philippines, Central America, and of course, throughout the United States. Many of these trips are multi-day celebrations that are focused around an intimate and effortless wedding day, reflective of each couple’s personality and style. Those insights helped shape the design of the platform, as I knew it needed to not only be functional and easy to navigate but also have a clean and beautiful interface. Something couples would feel proud sharing with their guests, to encourage visitors to learn more about the couple’s charity of choice and ultimately help those loved ones contribute to the couple’s mission.
Photo: Courtesy of The Good Beginning
How does one’s Good Beginning Registry integrate with their wedding website? Do couple’s simply link out?
Couples upload a photo of themselves, and a bit about themselves and the charity / charities they have chosen to support. This personal story will help guests understand why the charity is meaningful to you as a couple. This special profile can be searched and accessed through the homepage of The Good Beginning. Just as you could add a Crate & Barrel link to your registry section on your wedding website, your personal Good Beginning registry profile can be shared just as easily.
Photo: Courtesy of The Good Beginning
How many charities are accessible via the registry now? Which ones are the most popular?
Today, we have over 300 charities accessible through The Good Beginning. The ‘popularity’ of charities really follows what’s happening in the world around us—right now, many couples are choosing to support organizations that provide services for refugees and protect women’s rights, for example. The number of organizations we support grows daily, and we are so thankful to be broadening the impact of this program.
If your charity isn’t included, how do you go about having it added What’s your vetting process like?
Perhaps the couple volunteered at a homeless shelter together in college or want to give back to a school in a spot where they plan spend their honeymoon—all are welcome once we are able to properly vet each organization. As long as the organization is a registered 501(c)3 in good standing, we will happily do all of the backend paperwork needed to get the organization set up to receive gifts. We always recommend couples do a little due diligence of their own by researching a charity’s work and how they spend their funds to ensure they align with your personal values. You can find this information for a majority of organizations by visiting guidestar.org.
How many couples use The Good Beginning every year? How much money has been donated via The Good Beginning year to date?
The nature of wedding registries is fluid, with guests who will give a gift up to 5 months after the big day. Since our launch in early 2016, we have had over 800 registries started through The Good Beginning, with each registry averaging between $5,000 and $8,000. Couples and their guests are projected to contribute over $500,000 to worthy causes around the world through The Good Beginning by the end of 2018. We are incredibly proud of the positive and organic response from couples and continue to add many new organizations to our charity directory. The prospect of connecting even more couples in the future with worthy causes is one that fuels this mission at its core, and helps make a larger impact on the world around us in a meaningful way.
Photo: Courtesy of Steve Steinhardt