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Give Differently!

Jacob and Rachel on their wedding day.
Jacob and Rachel on their wedding day.
Rachel tests the new community water well!
Rachel tests the new community water well!
June 10, 2013
Putting Water, Sanitation, and Education on Our Wedding Registry

Written by: Rachel Glickman & Jacob Lebowitz

We were married at a summer camp on the Chesapeake Bay. As well as doing the standard wedding activities like dancing and well-wishing, our guests spent the weekend zip-lining, canoeing, and navigating the ropes course.

Our venue wasn’t the only aspect of our wedding to veer from the norm – we also chose to “register” for a development project with Plan International instead of any of the tableware or kitchen goods that stock traditional registries. We couldn’t be happier with our decision to encourage charitable giving as a way to honor our marriage.

Witnessing Plan's Projects Firsthand


Our introduction to Plan International was through Jake’s family, which has worked with Plan for decades both by sponsoring children and by contributing to large-scale development projects. One of these projects was a clean water and sanitation project in Western Africa. Last year, when we planned a vacation in Ghana, we decided to take a few days to travel to Benin to see the project firsthand.

We were so impressed with Plan’s work and the stories we heard from villagers about the way the development projects changed their lives. Villagers told us about girls who can now go to school because they no longer have to walk over 3 miles every day to get clean water for their families. We also heard about how having year-round clean water allowed for far greater production of tomatoes, onions, and other crops, providing vital food security. It is impossible not to be moved by the profound impact of such basic investments in human health.

A Gift That Keeps Giving


As we began to plan our wedding, we quickly gravitated towards the idea of asking for donations to a charitable project instead of wedding gifts. As avid travelers, the needs of developing countries are very real to us and a project to help others was a natural fit.

Because we were so impressed with Plan’s work in Benin, helping to raise money for another Plan project was the obvious choice. Plan’s staff in the U.S. and Canada worked closely with us to pick a project that aligned with our interests. We ultimately selected a project that would build schools and sanitation facilities in Guinea, another West African nation. Plan helped us set up websites to track the donations and provided endless administrative support. The ease of putting together our “registry” was a true gift during our hectic wedding planning.

We really wanted to encourage our guests to focus on this project (and not to buy us any other gifts) so we set a very high goal of $25,000. We’re thrilled that our incredibly kind and generous family and friends exceeded this goal! After the donations were in, Plan provided us with regular updates on the progress of our project.

Whenever we think about how much better life will be for the students who attend the new schools in Guinea, we are filled with gratitude for our wonderful community that contributed. Honoring our marriage by improving the lives of others and strengthening another community is the best gift that we could possibly receive.


 Candice June 10, 2013 5:45 PM
Inspiring story, excellent idea!! Good job and congratulations!
 Diane June 10, 2013 6:08 PM
What a great idea. I wish I would have thought of that. I'm getting married in less than 2 weeks and there are people who haven't gotten gifts. Any idea how to do a registry in short notice
 Carolyn Treadway June 10, 2013 6:45 PM
Beautiful! A very inspiring choice, and wonderful example for the rest of us. How generous of you two, as well as the generosity of family and friends.
 Debbie Geno June 10, 2013 11:16 PM
How awesome of this couple!
 Kathy Blair June 11, 2013 6:53 AM
This is a fabulous idea!
Congratulations on your wedding!
You are a kind and generous couple.
 sassee June 11, 2013 12:51 PM
Beautiful couple with great hearts
 Loralee Cooley June 18, 2013 11:01 AM
What a great idea! My husband and I have sponsored kids through Plan for years, and I even visited Bolivia to meet two girls we've sponsored.
 Rosemary Fischer June 25, 2013 7:04 PM
Creativity at work ! Inspired life enhancement.
 Mariama Jabbie June 25, 2013 8:53 PM
Congratulations. May your marriage be blessed more as you chose to bless another individual/nations with the blessings of your marriage.
 Nazifa June 25, 2013 9:21 PM
Thanks so much for you generosity. May Marcy bless your marriage with good health and happiness. I am a sponsor of 2 kids my self, through Plan. Never have seen them...I don't have opportunity to go there. I am single parent of 2 orphans my self...God bless every generous person. You are beautiful together.
 Joseph Sachs June 26, 2013 5:57 AM
Best wishes to Jake and Rach for a long and harmonious marriage, which started well with an act of kindness to others.