Couple cancels traditional wedding to give back to others

Story highlights

  • Mark and Ismini Svensson were planning a big wedding reception and honeymoon when they had a change of heart
  • The New York couple is spending their wedding budget performing 50 acts of kindness -- one in each state
  • They took to social media for suggestions and drove to each location
  • They have visited 36 states and have 14 more to go

(CNN)"Shocked and frozen." Those are two words that Mark and Ismini Svensson say perfectly describe their families' reaction to their unique wedding plans.

Instead of having a typical ceremony, complete with cake and family photos, the couple chose a different path: To celebrate their love by sharing good deeds across the country with people they'd never met.
For past two years, the newlyweds have been spending their wedding budget to perform one act of kindness in each of the 50 states. The Svenssons plan to complete their mission this spring.
    The New York-based couple met as students, while attending Georgetown University. They say it was their mutual love of volunteerism and community activism that drew them together.
    Mark Svensson on the road, while performing 50 Acts of Kindness.
    "It just clicked," says Mark Svensson. "We both had this passion within us."
    While in the midst of selecting a venue for a more traditional wedding ceremony, they had a change of heart.
    "We were actually planning a big wedding reception and honeymoon," Ismini says. "We realized that our way of celebrating our love would be different, and we came up with 50 Acts of Giving Back."
    For Ismini, the idea of sharing goodwill in place of a wedding also became a special way to honor the legacy of her father, a civil engineer and philanthropist who taught her the importance of making a difference.
    "50 Acts of Giving Back" is a tribute to Ismini's father, Apostolos Karydis, who passed away while helping others.
    "The father of the bride plays important role on the wedding day, and I realized my father wouldn't be there."
    Ismini says her father suddenly passed away from heart attack while hosting a chari