Not surprisingly, one of the largest celebrated occasions in a person’s life is their wedding day. But something which is less common, but very admirable is when we hear of stories of two people starting their new chapter together by helping those who are suffering in some shape or form. Though we are bombarded with negative news 24/7, it is refreshing to hear about the good that is going on in the world.
Whether it’s hosting a wedding at a different venue in order to help feed the homeless, or even just simply donating all of the wedding money to charity, there are various ways in which you can use your wedding to benefit the greater good.
I present to you 5 lovely couples from around the world who inspired many others and I am sure caused a ripple effect, in a positive way:
1. Fethullah Üzümcüoğlu and Esra Polat
Back in 2015, these Turkish newlyweds decided to feed 4,000 Syrian refugees instead of hosting an expensive wedding reception. Hatice Avci, the international communications manager for KYM (Turkish Relief Organization) stated: “It’s like sharing a dinner with your friends and family who have this kind of thing on a daily basis—or sharing something with people who don’t even have the most basic things.” Watching the flood of Syrian refugees waiting in line for the food trucks was very moving – the video is available here.
2. Shehzaan and Zainab Chunara
In 2016, this Indian couple felt that the cost of the multiple wedding events would not be worth it in the long run. They would rather spend that money on something which would have a positive impact for others who were less fortunate than them. And so they did.
They chose to donate their money to Agha Khan Foundation, which helps eradicate poverty around the world. The 24 year olds were generous enough to ask the people who attended their small wedding ceremony to donate money to this foundation, rather than buying them gifts. Both Shehzaan and Zainab had seen the poverty in India and that made them realize how truly blessed they were. It’s easy for us to say we are grateful, but our actions speak louder than words.
3. Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian
This Canadian couple decided to cancel their large scale wedding after they saw an image of a lifeless body of a small Syrian child washed ashore. The child’s name was Alan Kurdi and he was only three years old, drowning with his mother and brother while trying to flee Syria. Samantha and Jackson felt a deep sense of empathy and compassion so decided to skip the extravagance and instead spend that money on sponsoring a Syrian family of four. Samantha stated: “After our civil ceremony, we felt like it was very true to what we wanted our marriage to symbolize and how we wanted to start new life as a couple.”
4. Sarah Dixon and Todd Rump
These two started a trend in which they decided to donate to a worthy cause instead of handing out party favors. Most people just stuff the wedding favor in their homes which accumulate dust. This couple chose to donate to a nonprofit for wounded veterans, but there are hundreds of different causes which people can choose, based on their values.
Additionally, there is a nonprofit which assists couples planning their wedding in setting up charitable registries. “The I Do Foundation helps couples raise donations for the charity of their choice and is working to change the culture of weddings so that giving back becomes an accepted and expected part of weddings.” Sarah and Todd remind us that you don’t have to completely sacrifice everything to a good cause, even the small acts such as substituting party favors for donations can go a long way.
5. Christopher and Deirdre Culver
This couple decided that there was not anything that they really needed or wanted in terms of gifts for their wedding, so they had a better idea. Because they had a shared passion for sailing and had initially met on a yacht, “they decided to put just one item on their registry: a link to Sail to Prevail, a charity that teaches disabled children and adults to sail and in the process imparts life skills.” Their story was featured on the New York Times in an article called For Those Who Have It All-Charitable Wedding Registries.
These are just a handful of people who decided to use their marriage for the common good of humanity.
At the end of the day, how you spend your money is a choice which is up to you. But it is important to think of the consequences of our actions before we take them. Spending a huge chunk of money for one day may be fine for some people, but for the majority, it causes newlyweds to start their new life in debt.
I also believe that it is crucial for us to question our intentions, not just for decisions in terms of marriage and weddings, but in every aspect of life. To be honest with ourselves and ask why we feel the need to do X, Y, or Z. Is it for attention? To look good to our Facebook friends and Instagram followers? Or to simply do what everyone else in our social circle has been doing?
May we become more intentional in our actions and be a source of good in our communities.