Little girls dream about their wedding day, planning out what they’ll wear, their color scheme and what song they’ll dance to at their reception with their yet to be identified groom. Sarah Cummins, 25, was one of those little girls long ago who had been planning her dream wedding for two years when that dream was recently shattered.
A Purdue University pharmacy student, Sarah had been working extra hours to help save up for the $30,000 spectacular event. But shortly before the wedding, she felt compelled to call it off for reasons she isn’t comfortable sharing.
With her heart breaking and tears flowing, Sarah found herself stuck with a nonrefundable venue contract and an elaborate plated dinner for 170 guests at the Ritz Charles in Carmel. But she decided to do something incredible instead.
“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.”
So Sarah decided that despite the intense pain she was feeling, there would be a silver lining to emerge from the darkness. She rearranged her reception area, then invited residents from local homeless shelters to attend what had now become a party.
Sarah removed the bridal party’s head table, cake table and gift table, then set up the elaborate gold Eiffel Tower vases with roses she and her mother created as centerpieces for the reception.
Dayspring Center Development Director Cheryl Herzog said being homeless is stressful and Sarah’s invitation to such an amazing event was much appreciated.
“I was so touched that Sarah had taken a painful experience and turned it into a joyful one for families in need. It is truly a very kind gesture on her part.”
Buses picked up shelter residents and families and drove them to the Ritz Charles for the beautiful dinner. Sarah’s event planner said no one she has ever worked with had turned a canceled wedding and reception into a charitable event.
When her guests arrived at the party, homeless veterans from the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation thanked her. They were grateful for her invitation.
“Thank you for having us. It means more than you know.”
Party guest Erik Jensen said the event was beautiful. He’s been at Wheeler Mission for five months and was very appreciative of Sarah throwing a party and inviting local homeless shelter residents.
“It’s just a really great opportunity for us, that was going to be a huge tragedy in her life. 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.”
Not only was hosting the party therapeutic for Sarah, she said it felt great to help others.
“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.”
When others caught wind of Sarah’s predicament, they decided they wanted to help out, too. Matt Guanzon donated suits from his own closet so party guests could dress up for the dinner. Then he posted on his Facebook page asking for others to help donate dresses and suits. He even procured children’s clothes for the families who attended.
“We mark our lives with the good times and sometimes the bad, so if we can help out in the good times, that’s what we’re doing here today. I’m just trying to show that even a little bit can help.”
While Sarah said after throwing herself 100 percent into the wedding and reception then seeing it fall apart may have crushed her, she refuses to stay down. She also is going on her honeymoon to the Dominican Republic alone.
“I will at least have some kind of happy memory to pull from. 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.”
Here’s more about this touching event.
Sarah’s former fiance was on board with donating the dinner as a “selfless way to deal with something that would go to waste.” Seeing the thrilled expressions on the party guests’ faces and hearing how excited they were made it all worthwhile.
Some of the guests had never been blessed to experience such a gathering while others hadn’t done so for quite some time. Sarah’s decision to take a sorrowful situation and turn it into something beautiful is a great lesson for everyone to learn from.