Sarah Cummins had been scrimping and saving for her dream wedding for two years, working overtime and on weekends. But a week ago, the Purdue University pharmacy student had to call it off. (She would rather not say why.) It was supposed to be this weekend.
On top of the heartache, what to do with a $30,000 event for 170 guests that you've been painstakingly planning for years? An event with a nonrefundable venue, we should add.
Cummins decided to go the charitable route and started calling homeless shelters in her hometown of Indianapolis, hoping that those in need would enjoy the food and music at the Ritz Charles in Carmel, IN, instead, reports USA Today.
"It was really devastating to me. 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," she said.
Cummins worked with an event planner at the venue to rearrange the reception area, taking away the head table, cake table, and gift table. She's also arranged for buses to pick up residents from shelters on Saturday afternoon.
She and her mother plan to decorate with the centerpieces they had designed themselves, which are gold Eiffel Tower vases with roses. On the menu are bourbon-glazed meatballs, goat cheese and roasted-garlic bruschetta, chicken breast with artichokes and Chardonnay cream sauce — and, of course, wedding cake.
Cummins said that she's excited to see the event come together, in spite of the emotional upheaval calling off her wedding has caused.
"I will at least have some kind of happy memory to pull from," she said. "I've worked so many weekends and so much overtime to pay for this, I wanted to make sure it would be the perfect wedding."
She says she's discussed the plans with her ex-fiancé and he was supportive. She will attend the dinner with her mom and a couple of friends — former bridesmaids. Then, she will go on her honeymoon in the Dominican Republic solo. "I'm going by myself. I'm nervous, but I feel like it will be really good strength-building for me. I want that time alone," she said.
Event planner Maddie LaDow at the Ritz Charles said that this isn't the first time someone has canceled a wedding on such short notice. "Some people throw parties, some completely walk away, but none has ever done anything this charitable," she said. "It is very honorable of her."
Actually, there has been at least one other time a bride has decided to turn a called-off wedding into a charitable act. In 2015, Quinn Duane's fiancé got cold feet and left her having to deal with an already-paid $35,000 deposit and 120 guests who had RSVPd to attend their wedding in a Sacramento hotel. Duane decided to invite the community's homeless to enjoy the feast, rather than waste all of that overpriced food.