This couple cancelled their wedding to help refugees

Instead of having a big wedding in 2016 like planned, Samantha and Farzin donated all their funds to a Syrian refugee charity.

Photo | Jim Martin

When a couple cancels their big day, you automatically assume it’s because their relationship is sadly over. However, this Toronto couple cancelled for a very different reason.


Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian decided to donate the money they were planning to spend on their big traditional wedding to help Syrian refugees instead.

The ceremony was planned for 2016, and they had the venue and caterers booked, and had a guest list of 130 drawn up.

Then they saw that heartbreaking picture of Alan Kurdi, the little Syrian boy who drowned near a Turkish beach, and they had a change of heart.

The couple were also involved with the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge, which raises money to help refugees settle in Canada, which made their decision easier.

Photo | Jim Martin

Bride Samantha told Buzzfeed, “It made me acutely aware of the crisis that was happening. Being involved while planning our wedding gave us idea that we could use the opportunity to make a real difference in crisis and use it as a platform to spread awareness.”

After that, it was simply a matter of calling their friends and family to let them know the big wedding was off, and instead they would have an intimate ceremony on 9 October at Toronto City Hall, followed by an informal dinner.

Friends helped with the bouquets, the invitations and even found a bar to host the reception for free.

Instead of presents, guests were asked to donate to the Syria Challenge.

And when they heard what the couple were up to, the venue and caterers were only too happy to refund their money for the cause.

Photo | Jim Martin

Samantha said, “We said that we wanted to redirect our efforts towards this humanitarian crisis and they were immediately on board as well, which is great because they allowed us to cancel our existing reservation and refund our money to use towards this new cause.”

They’ve now raised over £11,000, and hope to raise a further £7,000, which is enough to help a family of four resettle in Canada.

Do the couple regret not having the big wedding they’d originally planned? Not one bit.

“The way it all came together quickly created an opportunity for friends and family to get involved directly and passionately,” Samantha said, “We feel like we made the right decision. 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.”


A beautiful wedding story indeed.