Earlier this summer, celebrity chef Art Smith – known for his role on the hit reality competition Top Chef – and his fiancee, artist Jesus Salguerio, offered companies a chance to sponsor gift bags at their summer nuptials.
A flier distributed to top public relations companies offered commercial underwriting to the tune of $2,500 for the privilege of donating 350 items for guest gift bags. In addition, a donation of $20,000 and 350 products would get four tickets to the celebration, whose invitation list included the Obamas, the Bidens, Oprah Winfrey and Jessica Simpson.
According to the flier, part of the proceeds would go to Smith’s charity Common Threads, which teaches healthy living to impoverished and disadvantaged children. The charity helps more than 750 children and served 2,000 healthy meals in 2006.
Smith got the idea of using his wedding for charity when another important milestone – his 50th-birthday party – raised $1 million for Common Threads, he said, including a $250,000 present from Oprah. The talk-show guru is a friend; he was once her personal chef, and he now regularly contributes to O magazine.
"We’re not accepting gifts," Smith told the Washington Post in July, about a month before the wedding. "We’re only asking that our guests think of the charity, if they wish to."
The ceremony took place this previous weekend in Washington, D.C., less than a year after the city approved same-sex marriage. Guests who watched the two long-time partners tie the knot have contributed more than $20,000 to the charity so far.
"So far, we’ve received $21,800," Linda Novick O’Keefe, executive director of Common Threads, told the Post. "We’re expecting more to come in the next few days, even weeks."