Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian’s March wedding was set in stone. They’d locked down the venue, the caterer and all the other myriad details that make a memorable wedding, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.
But they’re throwing all that out the window and using the money for a considerably different cause: sponsoring a Syrian refugee family’s settlement into Canada.
“We were in the midst of wedding planning in September when that devastating photo of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi found on a beach came out,” Jackson, a doctorate student specializing in public policy, told ABC News. “Like so many other people, we became acutely aware of how bad the situation was getting and how important it was to act and do something positive, so we canceled the wedding and redirected the funds.”
Jackson had been working with Ryerson University’s Lifeline Syria Challenge, which raises money to help cover a year of expenses for Syrian refugees arriving in Toronto, and she realized that the money she and Yousefian had saved could help sponsor a Syrian family of four.
The couple drastically scaled down the size of their wedding, electing to get married at City Hall, followed by a dinner with friends and family and a small reception at a local bar.
“Our family and friends were absolutely thrilled and supportive,” Jackson said. “And rather than giving the traditional gift, they made donations to help fund our sponsorship of a Syrian refugee family.”
So far, the couple has raised $17,500 toward their goal of $27,000, and they have no regrets about their decision.
“Our wedding was perfect,” Jackson said, “and it was definitely the perfect way to start our marriage.”