Weddings and toilets prove the perfect match

(Photo: Ken Haddock)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle did it – and now more and more happy couples are inviting guests to donate to charity instead of giving wedding gifts.

Charity campaign Toilet Twinning, which raises funds for water and sanitation projects overseas, says big-hearted brides and grooms are supporting its work to celebrate their big day.

Sarah-Jane and Richard Mendonça from London first heard of the charity when they met Toilet Twinning staff travelling on the same flight home from Uganda. They had already decided against a traditional gift list for their forthcoming wedding at Glenarm Castle in Northern Ireland – and opted instead to invite guests to donate to Toilet Twinning.

And 12 guests did just that, twinning their toilet with a latrine abroad and so sponsoring a loo for a family overseas. In return for their donation, ‘twinners’ received a certificate with a photo of their toilet twin and its GPS coordinates.

‘Our guests told us they loved the idea,’ says Sarah-Jane. ‘It makes us smile when we see that the Toilet Twinning certificates have pride of place in our friends’ and family’s loos!’

Carol and Neil Legg invited guests at their wedding in Dorset to donate to Toilet Twinning and raised more than £2,200 through online giving. Their reception featured cupcakes and cookies topped with toilet motifs, baked by Carol’s niece. ‘We had some amused faces and comments, but overall we had a great response,’ says Carol.

Clive and Stephanie Tomlinson were married in Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire on New Year’s Eve. As a trained biologist, Clive was very aware of the health implications of poor sanitation. Their choice of Toilet Twinning was also partly influenced by the fact that Clive’s first wife, Annie, had been a strong supporter of the charity, and, when she became terminally ill, she’d asked for the collection at her funeral to be for Toilet Twinning.

‘As Stephanie and I weren’t having to set up home from scratch, we didn’t want a big wedding gift list,’ says Clive, ‘so we told everybody that giving to Toilet Twinning would be a great alternative.’

And it’s not only wedding couples who are choosing to support the charity. Jane Hutley owns Gate Street Barn, a popular wedding venue in in Bramley, Surrey. She decided to twin the barn’s toilets after seeing Toilet Twinning certificates in a hotel in Lymm, during a long-distance cycling trip.

‘I was extremely taken by the idea, having travelled to many countries where toilet facilities are lacking or non-existent,’ says Jane. ‘I hope it sends a positive message to our couples that we spend some of our profits on charitable causes. The photos will be a reminder to all guests how lucky we are in this country – without being a dampener on the celebrations!’

Toilet Twinning CEO Lorraine Kingsley says that weddings are an increasingly popular reason to twin a toilet, especially since the charity created an £80 gift box of toilet twin, soap and toilet roll.

‘These days, many of us already have all the basics like toasters and kettles by the time we get married so perhaps we can afford to be more altruistic in our gift lists,’ says Lorraine. ‘So often, people tell us that they’re shocked to learn that so many people in the world lack bare essentials such as toilets – things we take for granted – so they’re turning their wedding day into an opportunity to celebrate what they have and help support those who have very little.’

PS: Our gift set of toilet twin, loo roll and soap is sure to raise a smile – and saves lives: order your gift here