09/12/2012 11:42 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How to Plan a Wedding for a Bride and Groom with 400 Children

Not everyone who gets married spends her time dreaming of just the right dress or where her honeymoon will be. My fiancé, Luc Deschamps and I, will be right here in Malawi, Africa, surrounded by family and friends who will come from around the world to celebrate with us when we get married. And most importantly, we will be with our 400 beautiful children from our school, "The Jacaranda School," for children living with and orphaned by AIDS.

Luc first came to Malawi as a journalist. He immediately understood my passion in helping the children who have lost their families in my village. He knew I had lost most of my own family. From the day he decided to move here, wonders have happened at the school. As our love has grown, so has the Foundation. A school, a physics and science lab, a library, running water and our first college graduates are starting University.

I am sure I am not the only bride who has more important things on their mind than finding a florist, a caterer or the perfect band. There are woman around the world fighting against injustice, working for a woman's freedoms, doing humanitarian work in war-torn countries or perhaps misplaced and on the move. I am sure they, too, are falling in love, getting married and making a life for themselves without the benefit of a Vera Wang. It doesn't make it any less wonderful, exciting and special. Love is love. And believe me, I do have a plan!

On my wedding day, I will be wearing a dress designed by our school children. And for the traditional wedding, will wear traditional Malawian dress. Patterned material. Fabric made locally in Malawi. It will be a wrap around the waist, long with a frilly blouse and a traditional headdress. Malawi, Africa has some very special customs. We will have a traditional wedding where everyone in the village is invited, including our village chief. There will be traditional dances and the custom here is to do "Perekani," translated as "the giving." Songs will play and people will throw money in any amount to the bride and groom. People come forward to dance to their favorite songs while throwing money. This money is a gift for the bride and groom to help start their lives together. All the children will attend with their guardians and friends and dance and celebrate with us.

As for planning a registry, well, the things we need won't be found at Bloomingdale's. If we had a Jacaranda Registry, we would ask for donations through Pay Pal to purchase desks, as we have a shortage, with three children sitting at one desk. We would list school supplies such as pens, pencils, geometry sets, exercise books, calculators, school shoes, sneakers, computers/laptops, musical instruments, art supplies, sewing machines, a dictionary for every secondary school student and nine camera video/photography/flips.

Instead of dresses for bridesmaids, we'll have school uniforms. Believe me, they will come to much better use than a set of china for 402!

Putting a wedding together is much easier than building an orphanage, so I think we have this one covered! But the two do have a lot in common. Passion, undying love for each other and what this means to our children, honoring those we've lost and a commitment to making the most out of the time we have together.

Read all about how we met, how Luc nominated me to be a CNN hero and our full love story on

Below, a photo of Luc and Marie.