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"In Lieu of Traditional Favors..."

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

Alpena, MI - July 2022

This past July, local couple Levi Goebel and Maren Winter celebrated their marriage at the beautiful Sojourn Lakeside Resort in Gaylord, Michigan. Touched by the personal loss of their friend Dallin Toth earlier this year, Levi and Maren wanted to include The Sunset Project into their celebration - providing their guests with a memorable experience they won't soon forget.

The Sunset Project had the opportunity to sit down with Maren to talk about the couple's reasoning to include the organization on their very special day.


Tell us a little bit about the thought process behind your idea of doing a donation instead of individual party favors.

Maren: “So, our thought process behind doing donations instead of traditional party favors started several months ago when a coworker and I were talking about our upcoming wedding and party favors came up. I just really didn't know what I wanted to do or would if I wanted to do them all really - they always seem to get left behind and then you're left with a bunch of favors, and then it costs money, so now you feel like the money was wasted. So my coworker heard this and said that she and her husband worked with a nonprofit and did a donation favor, I thought that's so awesome. Right around the same time is when I saw The Sunset Project launch, and I thought it would be the perfect fit.”

What was the reaction of your guests?

Maren: “The reaction from our guests was very positive! A few guests came up to Levi and I, or my family with questions and curiosity wanting to know more – and those who didn't know or wanted more information were able to look up the website on the table cards that I made. From what I gathered, our guests really appreciated the money going towards a cause rather than a small trinket or gift to them. I really think they just felt like they were getting to be a part of something even bigger than just our wedding day.”

Why did you want to include The Sunset Project in this process?

Maren: “The Sunset Project spoke to us as a way to incorporate a friend's life on our wedding day. Last August, we lost our friend Dallin, who was a goofy, down-to-earth, creative, and kind person. We wanted to find a way to make him feel present on a day that he would have been attending in person. When The Sunset Project launched with the video of Sawyer’s story, we knew this is how we could celebrate Dallin’s life. We loved how The Sunset Project was designed to support individuals in Northeast Michigan, grow one’s creative passions and root their mission on defeating the mental health stigma in the area.”

What would you like to see The Sunset Project do with the donation? Are there any areas of creative advancement/mental health awareness that you think should be a focus for the organization going forward?

Maren: "We both loved The Sunset Project’s long-term deliverable of the mental health awareness program in schools. When dealing with mental health issues, some of the traditional methods implemented are not that effective because they are traditional. The program could be a great alternative outreach for young people and a creative advancement we would both love to see is a nontraditional art exhibition showcasing local, young creatives - nontraditional in the sense of breaking the boundaries of what we would normally see in Northeast Michigan. From painting to drawing to sculpture to any other creative mediums, it could be a really great place for young people to connect, network, and show off their skills."

Would you encourage others to consider doing “in lieu of” donations?

Maren: "Levi and I are very happy we decided to choose this route for wedding favors. It was not just a donation, but the ability to spread the word to two hundred of our closest friends and family about this wonderful resource here in Northeast Michigan, and I'm hoping that our guests were able to spread it even further! I would a hundred percent recommend other couples to pursue donations in lieu of party favors or even to do a “philanthropy table” where guests can take part and choose to make specific donations themselves."

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