Weddings are complicated affairs, but one Turkish couple ditched the long to-do list—and even longer guest list—by spending their special day feeding several thousand people.
In a selfless move as stunning as the bride’s gown, Fethullah Üzümcüoğlu and Esra Polat celebrated their new nuptials last Thursday by working on a bread line, using their wedding funds to help the international nonprofit organization Kimse Yok Mu (KYM) dole out food to thousands of Syrian refugees in the border town of Kilis.
Turkey has welcomed nearly two million Syrian refugees since conflict began in that region in 2011. More than four million Syrians have fled their country altogether. The United Nations has described it as the worst crisis of its kind in a generation.
The groom’s father, Ali Üzümcüoğlu, volunteers for KYM and suggested the truly heartwarming idea.
“I thought that sharing a big delicious dinner with our family and friends was unnecessary, knowing that there are so many people in need living next door,” he told the Independent’s i100 blog. “So I came up with this idea and shared it with my son. I’m very happy that he accepted it and they started their new happy journey with such a selfless action.”
Though Turkish weddings are traditionally lavish, over-the-top celebrations that last from Thursday to Tuesday, the bride was thrilled with her decision to celebrate by volunteering, if a bit hesitant at first.
“I was shocked when Fethullah first told me about the idea but afterwards I was won over by it,” she told i100. “It was such a wonderful experience. I’m happy that we had the opportunity to share our wedding meal with the people who are in real need.”
Though the groom admitted that it was his first time taking part in something like this, he didn’t hesitate to call it the “best and happiest moment of my life,” adding that his friends had been so inspired by the compassionate move that they’d begun planning similar events for their own weddings.