INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Personal pages created online are not reserved for sharing news or family photos, in a growing number of cases they are used to share expenses.
The idea of collecting money from a varied group of donors online is called “crowdfunding” and the concept has grown to be commonly associated with families facing dire situations like medical expenses or funeral costs.
An increasing population of fundraisers are soliciting more common events like weddings as causes.
According to the crowdfunding site GoFundMe.com, more than 1,500 wedding-related campaigns have been launched on the service since 2010. Some users suggest their friends and family support the wedding planning budget in lieu of traditional gifts.
An Indianapolis couple is included in that crowd.
Holly Nichols flew from Australia to Indiana in October 2013 to meet her future husband, Brian, in-person. The two originally connected with via the social media application, Instagram. The couple were married in a small backyard affair in May after finding they could not afford the paperwork to apply for her citizenship, let alone a big ceremony with family and friends.
“We both were so uncomfortable asking for money; asking for money from our parents and especially not our friends. We know how hard everyone works for what they have, so it never crossed our minds to ask for money, we just didn’t want to do it,” Holly Nichols said.
Two of the Nichols’ friends started a fundraising page on their behalf through GoFundMe to help pay for the couple to travel back to Holly’s hometown for a celebration with family in Australia.
“We’re really grateful that they started it because they sort of saw it as a worthy cause, I guess, which made it feel a little bit better about asking for help,” Nichols said.
Longtime professional wedding planner, Tonya Shadoan is among the crowdfunding opposition. The owner of Circle City Planners says she understands why couples may consider the option due to more of them budgeting without financial support from families, but she suggests finding less expensive event alternatives.
“The people want to get married, they put their incomes together but sometimes it’s not enough,” Shadoan said. “You shouldn’t ask your guests, I mean they are called ‘guests.’ Would you ask somebody to pay for a cocktail if you had them come into your home? No.”
Brian Nichols acknowledged what has been helpful for him and his wife might not be for everyone.
“You’re not forcing [contributors] to donate. If they feel the need or they find it compelling then they will. If not, it’s not hurting anyone else,” he said.
In six months active online, the site supporting Brian and Holly Nichols has collected more than $300 of a $2,000 goal.