This article was originally published by The Mennonite

A wedding registry with the earth in mind

Newlyweds value stewardship, social responsiblity

Stephanie Hirschler, now Honderich, and Michael Honderich—both Goshen (Ind.) College graduates— married on June 7 and took a new route with their wedding registries and gifts.

The couple registered at Ten Thousand Villages and Target, but also made donations to two causes in their names and invited wedding guests to do likewise.

Below is a Q&A with joint responses from Stephanie and Michael:

In addition to your wedding registry, you made gifts to Tanzania Education Aid and New World Arts. Why?

The decision to offer these options for giving was really a by-product of how we decided to handle our wedding favors. Many couples give a $1-2 gift to each guest that attends the wedding, however, these tokens are rarely significant and often end up in trash cans later down the road. Stephanie had remembered attending a wedding in her youth where in place of favors, the couple had made a generous donation to a charitable organization. This inspired her to do likewise in her own wedding someday. So, we each chose an organization to donate $1 per guest to: New World Arts and Tanzania Education Aid.

Tanzania Education Aid was founded by Stephanie’s sister and brother-in-law, Lenora and Tobias Hirschler Magatti. Her father, Richard Hirschler, has also helped in the organization’s establishment. TEA provides scholarships for students to attend high school when they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

New World Arts is a community theater in downtown Goshen that we have been involved with over the past couple years. New World Arts seeks to expand our human experience through live theater and creative media in order to promote growth and dialogue for artists and audiences and enrich the quality of life in our community.

This option not only offers a gift of significance that most everyone can support, but also inspires others to do likewise. When one of our relatives heard that we were handling our wedding favors this way, they offered to match our contributions for our wedding present. We thought it was a wonderful idea, and made sure to make the option available for others to give on our behalf as well. Charitable-giving and globally-minded stewardship are important things to us, and we were excited to make that spirit part of our wedding celebration.
Why did you go this route, as opposed to just registering at the typical “wedding registry” stores?

Well, we did register at Target, which would be an example of a more typical wedding registry. Registering at Ten Thousand Villages hardly feels atypical for us. I suppose it’s our Mennonite bias talking, but we’ve always appreciated their products and mission.

We also generally prefer alternatives to mainstream commercial options like Target or Wal-Mart, as do many of our guests. We wanted to reflect that in our registry. Of course, that’s not everyone’s preference, nor is it always possible to avoid the Wal-Marts and Targets. Ten Thousand Villages doesn’t carry toasters after all. Our goal was to create a variety of giving options to ensure all our guests would be comfortable.
How did people respond to these gift-giving methods?

People responded positively as far as we know. No one was offended or angered when there wasn’t a wedding favor waiting for them at the reception. Most of our guests opted to purchase gifts for us, rather than donating on our behalf, but a few did make donations and were glad to have that option. The majority of our gifts did come from Ten Thousand Villages, including a few delightful surprises from the store that we didn’t register for.
Would you recommend this to other couples?

Yes! We would recommend registering at Ten Thousand Villages to anyone building any gift registry, be it weddings, birthdays, or what have you. Offering the option of donating to an organization is also a good plan. Guests will appreciate the option, and couples will feel good knowing they’re helping more than just themselves on their wedding day.

Weddings are about communities as much as they are about the joining of two people, and it’s a great occasion for everyone to give, including the couple.

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