How two couples change wedding plans to assist Syrian refugees

A Canadian couple and a Jordanian couple each choose to have low-key weddings and use the extra money intended for wedding costs to help Syrian refugee families settle in their new homes. 

Muhammad Hamed/Reuters
Jordanian couple Muataz Mango (l.) and Basma Awad (2nd l.) greet their guests at their wedding party, where they hosted a number of Syrian and Iraqi refugee families, at a hotel in downtown Amman, Jordan, October 2, 2015. The newly wed couple dedicated part of their wedding costs to holding a party for Syrian, Iraqi and Palestinian refugees at a hotel in downtown Amman.

A wedding is a special moment and important life event to share with friends and family, but two couples are also using theirs as an innovative opportunity to help Syrian refugees.

Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian of Toronto opted to downsize their wedding so that they could afford to sponsor a Syrian refugee family's resettlement in Canada, ABC News reported. They had been planning an elaborate, catered event for over a year, but instead they held a simple ceremony at a town hall with dinner afterward for family and friends.

Ms. Jackson, who is studying refugee healthcare for her PhD, said she still loves traditional weddings but thinks she and her groom made the right decision for theirs.

"We realized as we planned for our wedding that the average cost of a wedding is almost the same amount as the average cost of sponsoring a family of four [Syrian refugees]," Jackson told the Toronto Star.

After making the plan, the couple called family, friends, and their planned wedding venue, which agreed to refund the money for their project.

"We felt we had an obligation, in light of the humanitarian crisis, to contribute, and we thought this was the perfect opportunity to do that,” Mr. Yousefian told the Toronto Star.

They have sent the money to the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge, which aims to sponsor 75 Syrian families on their moves to Canada. The couple's effort has raised $17,500 out of $27,000 needed to care for the family's first year, but they are still taking donations. 

Another couple from Jordan has used their wedding to help refugees already living in their country. 

Mutaz Mango and Basma Omar of Amman divided the budget for their October wedding into two parts: a smaller celebration for family members, and a wedding party for refugee families living in the area, Suzanna Goussous reported for the Jordan Times. They still had entertainment, food, and music, but with 200 local refugees celebrating.

"[It] was a joy," Mr. Mango told the Jordanian Times. "When we first walked in, we were overwhelmed with so many people who were genuinely happy for us. Real human joy has no borders."

They also distributed food coupons to 30 refugee families to make up for a cut in United Nations funding. The couple coordinated the humanitarian effort with Collateral Repair Project, an NGO that works with refugees, for which Mango volunteers, Mark Molloy reported for the Telegraph. The couple donated their wedding gifts to refugee families living in Amman, Jordan.

"The celebration gave urban refugees the opportunity to do something they have not done in a long time, if ever: celebrate and enjoy their new lives here in Amman," a spokesman from Collateral Repair Project told the Telegraph. 

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