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Marry young, and you likely begin a new life together with many gifts from showers and wedding guests.  Marry later, and hopefully, your needs are not material.

When we married 11 years ago, we wanted to keep everything simple, from the handmade paper invitations to the handmade lumieres illuminating the path to church  — in the snow. in the dark. in mid-afternoon. in a mountain village in Canada.

Our invitations were designed with love, by talented artist-graphic designer-musician Ron Wind, of Atlanta, Georgia.

(He doesn’t like publicity, so I can’t mention how sweet and generous he is either.)

The ragged-edge invitations had bits of flower petals, leaves and stems in the paper, so at least reminded us of better seasons.  (We had a winter wedding because the stalled U.S. election in 2000 meant I couldn’t get away from work.)

Wedding invitation, handmade paper, with giving card

We kept one card as a memento because of the lovely design, and because it’s a reminder that we asked guests from several countries to come to Canada to ski — and celebrate our marriage.

We also tucked in a “giving card”, with these words:

“Dear Friends:

Our blessings are many. Instead of traditional wedding gifts, we would appreciate your helping others through your favourite group or one of ours …”

We listed three groups where we prefer to donate, because we’ve seen the great benefits of their work in some of the world’s toughest spots.  We’re inspired by the selflessness, generosity and dedication of their volunteers and staff.

And their administrative overhead is low.

●  Mennonite Central Committee

●  Foster Parents Plan

●  Doctors Without Borders

We listed a fourth, Friends of the World Food Program, as a catch-all to address world hunger. Feeding others at home and abroad has always been central in our lives.

These invitations embody our philosophy of charity, a foundation of our faith:  Give.