How 12 Celebrity Couples Gave Back Through Their Weddings

From Harry and Meghan to George and Amal, see how these A-listers used their nuptials to do good.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle; Sophia Bush and Grant Hughes
Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images,@sophiabush/Instagram
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Entertainment & Celebrity Editor
  • Sarah is the Entertainment & Celebrity Editor for The Knot, with special focuses on pop culture and celebrity wedding news.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Sep 09, 2022

Celebrity weddings are often synonymous with glitz and glamor—after all, when renowned A-listers tie the knot, it's hard to not attract the attention of the world. But not all celebrity weddings are just pomp and circumstance. Some, in fact, have thoughtful charitable aspects. Quite a few celebrities have given back through their weddings in all different capacities over the years. Some have encouraged their guests to donate in lieu of sending gifts, while others have partnered with humanitarian organizations to raise awareness for their causes. Some couples have even sold their exclusive wedding photos to raise money for charities. Here, we've rounded up 12 celeb couples who've given back through their weddings. Read their stories below, and if you feel inspired, you can do the same by registering for charity funds or linking your wish list to a good cause through your account The Knot Registry.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wedding day
Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images

We'll never forget the global fanfare surrounding Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's highly-anticipated 2018 royal wedding. In the US alone, an estimated 29 million people tuned into the nuptials, while nearly 3,000 watched from the Windsor Palace grounds in the UK. With so much worldwide attention, it's no surprise that well-wishers and royal fans wanted to send the happy couple celebratory gifts. It's for this reason that Meghan and Harry set up a wedding registry—a charity registry, that is. "Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle are incredibly grateful for the goodwill shown to them since the announcement of their engagement and are keen that as many people as possible benefit from this generosity of spirit," read a statement from the palace. "The couple have therefore asked that anyone who might wish to mark the occasion considers making a donation to charity, rather than sending a wedding gift."

The duo selected a number of charitable organizations for well-wishers to donate to, including The Children's HIV Association, Surfers Against Sewage, Scotty's Little Soldiers, and The Wilderness Foundation.

Sophia Bush and Grant Hughes

Sophia Bush and Grant Hughes wedding day

One Tree Hill actor Sophia Bush has been a longtime activist, and she frequently uses her platform to support causes like reproductive rights, racial equality and humanitarian efforts. It was only fitting, then, that she used her July 2022 wedding with Grant Hughes to support a cause near to their hearts. In fact, she began thinking about how she could use her big day for good from the moment she got engaged. "When I thought about that spotlight, my activist brain turned on," she told Vogue. "Global attention is a hell of a platform, and as someone who doesn't love attention but does love collective activism, I knew that this could be an incredible moment to spin the privilege of attention. And so I looked at Grant and said, 'Honey. I think we should get married in Tulsa.' He blinked. 'Oklahoma?' he asked. 'Yup. Imagine what we could do if we turned our wedding into an event to showcase Tulsa: the Greenwood leaders we work with. The cultural renaissance happening there. Tech. Philanthropy. Civil rights justice. The art. The leadership. We could focus all of this attention and turn the spotlight on them.'"

Throughout their wedding weekend, they used their attention to drive awareness to organizations like the Terence Crutcher Foundation and the Philbrook Museum. Activist Brittany Packnett Cunningham, a friend of the couple, also read a blessing in honor of the late Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a leader of the civil rights movement, during the ceremony.

Brittany Snow and Tyler Stanaland

Brittany Snow and Tyler Stanaland wedding day
Phil Chester / Phil Chester Photography

Celebrities—they're just like you! Shortly after actress Brittany Snow and Tyler Stanaland got engaged, the couple made their wedding registry on The Knot and were sure to add not one, but two charitable components. They first created a health fund for their pup, Billie Jean September Snow, who's battling diabetes. "Our favorite registry item was probably the Billie diabetes fund," Snow exclusively told The Knot. "We care about that little girl more than anything. Her health and her life is and will always be the most important thing. Our friends and family know this, so it was touching when they wanted to help in that way. Knowing it would be used for our number one family member."

They also linked their registry to the non-profit Surfrider Foundation, inspired by Stanaland's love of surfing. "Keeping the ocean clean is really important to us and at this rate, by 2050 the ocean will have more plastic than fish," they added. "Surfrider is helping with local and global initiatives to stop this from becoming a reality."

George and Amal Clooney

George and Amal Clooney wedding day
Getty Images

Fans were desperate to get a glimpse of George and Amal Clooney's lavish star-studded nuptials in 2014. The multi-day extravaganza, which took place in Venice, Italy, was a field day for the paparazzi, with photographers scrambling to snap photos of the couple enjoying canal boat rides and galavanting around the city with A-list guests like Anna Wintour, Matt Damon, and John Krasinski. Despite the heavy media presence, no one could get a glimpse of the extravagant ceremony. Instead, it was rumored that People Magazine and Hello! collectively paid around seven figures to secure the rights to the couple's first official wedding photos. The couple later donated the money from the deal to charity.

Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost

Colin Jost and Scarlett Johansson
Steve Granitz/WireImage

When Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost swapped vows at home in October 2020, they kept the news of their minimony under wraps, celebrating only with close family and friends. They did, however, jump on the opportunity to use their wedding announcement to do good. The newlyweds partnered with Meals on Wheels America, allowing the organization to reveal the happy milestone on their Instagram account. "We're thrilled to break the news that Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost were married over the weekend in an intimate ceremony with their immediate family and loved ones, following COVID-19 safety precautions as directed by the CDC," the brand wrote on Instagram. "Their wedding wish is to help make a difference for vulnerable older adults during this difficult time by supporting @mealsonwheelsamerica. Please consider donating to celebrate the happy couple by clicking the link in our bio."

Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello

Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello wedding day

The romantic nuptials of Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello certainly made a positive impact on their community. The couple, who swapped vows at The Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida in 2015, asked their loved ones to donate to St. Jude Children's Hospital and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh (where Manganiello was born) in lieu of wedding gifts.

Kaley Cuoco and Karl Cook

Kaley Cuoco and Karl Cook wedding day

Kaley Cuoco's love of animals played a strong role in her wedding to Karl Cook in 2018. Before swapping vows on a 10-foot fall horseshoe altar, the couple's planner Lauren Tatum revealed that the bride got ready in a barn feed room so she could be with her horses before walking down the aisle. The couple also invited their guests to forgo gifts and instead donate to Paw Works, a charity that provides food, shelter and veterinary services to rescue dogs and cats.

Following the wedding, Cuoco shared a message via her dog Norman's Instagram account: "In lieu of human wedding gifts, Norman asked that guests bring dog and cat donations for @pawworks which will be delivered this week," the post read. "Wow did everyone come through!!! Unbelievable donations and gifts for our 4 legged friends. Thank you to everyone, what an incredible turn out! We feel so blessed and happy!!"

Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries

Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

While their marriage may have only lasted 72 days, there was a thoughtful charitable element to Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries' 2011 wedding. According to TMZ, Kim Kardashian signed a check to the Dream Foundation (whose goal is to "enhance the quality of life for individuals and their families who are battling life-threatening illness") for twice the amount she and Kris received in wedding gifts: $200,000.

The outlet reported that Kim sent a letter to each guest, stating the following: "I would like to thank you for your generous and thoughtful wedding gift. It has taken me some time to pull everything together but I wanted to let you know that the money for every gift received by me at my wedding has been donated to the Dream Foundation, an organization that I am very passionate about."

Kate Middleton and Prince William

Kate Middleton and Prince William wedding day
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

It doesn't get much more high-profile than this royal wedding, which nearly 23 million Americans tuned in to watch. Considering Prince William and Kate Middleton probably have more than enough silver flatware and delicate teacups to wrap around all of England, it only made sense that they set up a charitable gift fund in honor of their wedding in 2011. Instead of gifts, the couple asked well-wishers to donate to a fund for 26 charities, many of which supported disadvantaged inner-city children.

Clarence House issued this statement on the matter: "Having been touched by the goodwill shown them since the announcement of their engagement, Prince William and Miss Middleton have asked that anyone who might wish to give them a wedding gift consider giving instead to a charitable fund. Many of the charities are little known, without existing royal patronage, and undertake excellent work within specific communities. They are charities that have a particular resonance with Prince William and Miss Middleton and reflect issues in which the couple have been particularly interested in their lives to date."

In the months following their nuptials, the fund ultimately raised $1.7 million for their select organizations.

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban
Taylor Hill/Getty Images

These savvy Aussies know the paparazzi all too well, so they turned the impending media frenzy surrounding their wedding into a charitable donation program. Instead of selling their wedding photos to the press, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban released one free image and requested that any publication using it make a payment to the Sydney Children's Hospital.

Christina Aguilera and Jordan Bratman

Christina Aguilera and Jordan Bratman
Kevin Mazur/WireImage for The Recording Academy

Guests invited to the 2005 wedding of pop singer Christina Aguilera and marketing music manager Jordan Bratman received a letter within the invitation box that requested they forgo gifts. Instead, the couple urged their loved ones to donate to organizations committed to helping rebuild communities impacted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. "While we celebrate the richness of life and all the circumstances that have blessed us in career and love, we are mindful of those who are suffering greatly as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita," the note read. "The best gift you could give us is a donation to any of the organizations helping the stricken citizens of New Orleans."

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Long before they were ever engaged, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were well-known for their charitable activism—but they were also known for receiving large payouts for exclusive family photos. (Back in 2006, for example, it was reported that they received $4.1 million from People Magazine for the exclusive photos of their first biological daughter, Shiloh. Over in the UK, Hello! paid an additional $3.5 million for the British rights to the images.)

There was a similar appetite for photos from their elusive private wedding ceremony when they tied the knot on August 23, 2014, in France. People and Hello! both allegedly paid a combined $5 million for exclusive first images, which the couple says they donated to their own Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which supports humanitarian aid work around the world.

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