I’ve never planned a wedding, for myself or anyone else, but I have seen the process depicted innumerable times on television and in film: it seems stressful.
One thing I definitely know from those depictions is that, when planning a wedding, a big shindig to celebrate your love, the (hopeful) eterninty of that love, and give your friends and family a whopper of a party, you have to plan well in advance. You also have to pay through the nose for most aspects of the party and that planning ahead and paying up go hand in hand; specifically, they mean non-refundable deposits.
Sarah Cummins cancelled all that she could when she decided, for reasons unknown, to call off the wedding she’d been planning for 2 years. That wedding, for some perspective, was priced at $30,000.
It seems that she was able to get out of some of her vendor commitments, but she had the food for the reception that was already prepped and ready. Cummins is a 25-year-old Purdue University student studying pharmacology. She told the Indianapolis Star: “It was really devastating. I called everyone, canceled, apologized, cried, called vendors, cried some more, and then I started feeling really sick about just throwing away all the food I ordered for the reception.”
What was she to do?
According to the New York Times, approximately 13% of engagements don’t result in an actual marriage. This is perhaps why wedding businesses do what they can fto protect themselves from what can be tremendous losses if they go through the process of preparing an extravagant ceremony only to have the spouses-to-be call it quits. “The 90-day mark is a crucial turning point; that’s when many reception spaces and wedding planners require 50 percent of their fees.”
One bride reported to The Times that when she couldn’t get her floral deposit back after her broken engagement, she and her parents sent flowers to people they knew for at least a full year. They also used the photographer they had hired, who gave them a credit instead of a refund, for family photos.
When it comes to the reception, some people have chosen to go ahead and throw the already planned party, instead throwing it for their family and friends; which, in my opinion, seems a nice way to cope with such a major breakup.
The New York Post reported in 2016 that a bride named Yiru Sun “gav e a party for underprivileged children on what was to be her wedding day, at a fancy event space on the Upper East Side. The wedding had been canceled after she refused to sign a prenuptial agreement, and she could not recoup the $8,000 deposit.”
That type of move is also a great way to cope and feel a bit better especially if you’re facing rejection.
That’s exactly what Sarah Cummins decided to do. Her reception was set at the Ritz Charles for 170 peple. She coordinated with the hotel, whose representative told the Star that this was the most generous idea they’d encountered from a jilted bride. When things were set at the Ritz, Cummins contacted homeless shelters all over Indianapolis as well as organizing a fleet of buses to chaufer her new guests to the dinner.
According to Cheryl Herzog, who works with one of the shelters Cummins contacted, who spoke with WPXI, “Being homeless is stressful for an entire family…I suspect having the chance to experience a delicious meal with your family in a beautiful space like the Ritz Charles will be very special for them.”
The reception was set for the garden pavilion at the Ritz with a menu boasting bourbon glazed meatballs, roasted garlic bruschetta with goat cheese, and a chicken breast with artichokes cooked in a Chardonnay cream sauce. And, of course, wedding cake.
“I wil, at least, have some kind of happy memory to pull from,” Cummins said of the decision.
Of course, one meal and good experience cannot solve all of a homeless person’s problems, or the homeless problem which continues to grow in this country. But, it is definitely moves like this which humanize an often overlooked and demonized population.
Contributing in a regular fashion, one that allows for sustainable care instead of a one-off good deed (not that there is anything at all wrong with that) is something to consider if you are inspired by Cummins’ tremendous generosity and benevolent spirit.
According to the True Colors Fund, 1.6 million youth become homelessness annually in the United States. True Colors focuses specifically on LGBT youth, who have an even higher probability of going through homelessness. It is estimated that LGBT youth represent approximately 7% of the overall youth population, though that number has likely grown in recent years. That being said, a whopping 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT.
In New York City, organizations like New Alternatives work to gather donations and assist these LGBT homeless youth, particularly those with criminal histories, drug problems, or who otherwise don’t fit into the more “mainstream” charities. They gather clothing and toiletries, as well as anything and everything someone might need to help get a job or feel comforted and settled in whatever their situation is. That could include notebooks for a teen boy who is a poet or a bicycle for a gender-nonconforming teenager who wants to get a job as a bike messenger. They also provide a meal for their clients every Sunday along with job training.
As someone who has volunteered for those events in particular, you can see the positive effect even a simple meal can have on someone who has lost most if not all of their security in this world, and likely have lost family, friends and so much more. I’m sure the guests at Sarah Cummins’ revised wedding reception will treasure that experience in a way that will hopefully help them remain resilient and optimistic through their trying times.