Many couples spend thousands of dollars on their dream wedding. But what happens when you have to call it all off?
Faced with the question that no bride or groom would ever want to answer, Sarah Cummins and Logan Araujo had to decide what to do with the $30,000 non-refundable wedding reception they were left with after calling off their wedding for undisclosed reasons.
“It was really devastating,” Cummins told the IndyStar. And besides getting some money back on the photographer, everything else seemed like sunk cost.
“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.
After checking with Araujo, Cummins decided to invite people from four local homeless shelters to enjoy a fancy dinner and reception at the Ritz Charles in Carmel, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis. She hoped to fill the 170 spots they had reserved for guests.
“For me, it was an opportunity to let these people know they deserved to be at a place like this just as much as everyone else does,” Cummins said.
She even arranged bus transportation to the venue from the various shelters, and greeted the guests as they arrived. She almost didn’t go, thinking it might be too painful, but changed her mind after one of the homeless program directors said they couldn’t wait to meet her.
“Thank you for having us,” one of the guests, a homeless veteran, told Cummins as he arrived. “It means more than you know.”
Cummins’ mother, along with some of her would-be bridesmaids, were also in attendance.
The guests dressed in their best and dined on the on hors d’oeuvres of bourbon-glazed meatballs, goat cheese and roasted garlic bruschetta, and the main dish of chicken breast with artichokes and Chardonnay cream sauce.
Cummins’ generosity inspired others, including Matt Guanzon of Indianapolis, who donated some suits from his own closet and recruited others to do the same, including a tailor and a gown shop, which contributed suits, dresses, and accessories.
Not much had changed about the routine of the reception, besides cutting the cake in the kitchen, and removing the head table.
Ritz center development director Cheryl Herzog was so touched by Cummins’ generosity that she reached out to the IndyStar about the story.
“I was so touched that Sarah had taken a painful experience and turned it into a joyful one for families in need,” Herzog said. “It is truly a very kind gesture on her part.”
Guest Erik Jensen, from a local mission, said it was “a great time.”
“It’s just a really great opportunity for us, that was going to be a huge tragedy in her life,” he said.
“It’s a great opportunity to spread love. Being homeless is kind of a big loss for all of these guys. This is just a very nice thing to do.”