Weddings With A Purpose

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Local wedding planner Jennifer Matteo brings together philanthropy and weddings

We all know that our community is a very philanthropic one, with so many giving and caring people who give so generously to the area’s arts and human service organizations. But what does philanthropy have to do with weddings? Well, for Sarasota event planner Jennifer Matteo, philanthropy is quickly becoming a trend in wedding planning for both young and older couples alike.

The “party with a purpose” theme is nothing new around this town. But Jennifer is encouraging couples to add the “purpose” theme not just to events and galas, but to weddings as well. In order to show couples how much fun “weddings with a purpose” can be, Jennifer came up with the idea to photograph a simulated philanthropic wedding in order to better market the concept.

“I really wanted to showcase how you can do something quite unique that is special to Sarasota and that has not yet been done,” said Jennifer. “Picking a nonprofit organization at which to hold your wedding is the first way to start. People don’t think about hosting a wedding at The Big Top, but why not? I think a circus-style wedding is perfect! Maybe you were a kid who grew up here loving the circus? Not only has the circus been a rich part of Sarasota’s history, giving us the best of circus for over 100 years, but The Circus Arts Conservatory’s Sailor Circus program, America’s oldest youth circus, has helped children develop life managements skills, gain self-discipline and bolster confidence. This organization gives so much back to the community; what better place to host a fun event like a wedding?”

Another way to incorporate philanthropy into your special day is to donate the florals to a local nursing home, a support facility or any other organization that would benefit from such an uplifting gift. Jennifer says to assign that duty to your wedding planner.

Another way, Jennifer shared, is to choose like-minded vendors who give back to the community, keeping the philanthropy theme local. Jennifer can share a list of these vendors with you.

Instead of wedding favors, make a donation to your favorite charity. Place a card at each seat that lets guests know a donation has been made in their name as a thank-you for sharing your special day.

Feed the hungry with the leftovers, donate your dress, and if this is not your first wedding and you don’t need gifts to start your life together, select your favorite charities and ask your guests to make a donation as your gift instead of giving you another toaster oven.

Jennifer has always had a passion for entertaining, hosting events and thinking outside of the box to create not just a party, but also a special experience for all guests.

“I began planning private parties and events in Pennsylvania, where I am originally from. My husband and I moved to Sarasota in 2011 seeking a warmer climate.  It didn’t take long for me to miss planning private events and weddings, so I started searching for something that would allow me to get back into the industry. I managed an events company for three years, opened a new venue, and learned a lot about the wedding industry here,” said Jennifer.

Last May, she decided it was time to launch her own company – Jennifer Matteo Event Planning (941-315-8212 | She specializes in weddings, but loves to work on private and charity events, galas and other events.

“I love to explore the diversity each client and event brings. No two events are alike, and each should be treated as a unique experience. I love to play with color and layer my events to keep the guests guessing and talking about it for years to come!” Jacqueline Miller


Photography: Katelyn Prisco, Beauty: Brides by Kelly Anne, Location: The Circus Arts Conservatory, Gown: Blush Bridal Sarasota, Designer: Ines Di Santo, Florals: Oh Darling Events
Sarasota Architectural Salvage, Write On Sarasota, Gigi’s Cupcakes Sarasota, Florida – St. Armands Circle, La Dona Donuts, Diamond Vault, US Tent Rental, So Staged Event Design + Rentals, Ever After, JustaBasketcase Events Stephanie Lynn

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