Couple cancels traditional wedding to fundraise for Syrian refugees

Amanda Jerome
Features Contributor
Good News
Jackson and Yousefian pose with Toronto Mayor John Tory after the civil ceremony. (Courtesy)

Most couples use their wedding as a way to show the world how much they love each other, but one Toronto bride and groom decided to use their special day to show how much they care about humanity.

Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian had planned a traditional wedding. They had a venue booked, a caterer ready and their family and friends were set to celebrate with them. But the couple realized the cost of their wedding could be put to a better use, by redirecting funds to a cause close to the couple's hearts, the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge.

“We realized as we planned for our wedding that the average cost of a wedding is almost the same amount as the average cost of sponsoring a family of four,” says Jackson, a PhD student studying refugee health care policy who has been involved with the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge since July. “Seeing how far donations go and seeing how much the money fundraised really means to people who are going through the program both as sponsors and people being just seemed logical that we would switch gears and make our wedding a fundraiser instead.”

Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian in Toronto. (Courtesy)

Jackson and Yousefian called their family and friends to tell them the big wedding was off and that they’d be getting married at city hall and celebrating with an informal dinner afterwards. The couple also asked their guests to forgo bringing weddings gifts and in lieu to donate money to the cause.

“We just called the venue and the caterers and we told them our plan,” says Jackson. “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.”

With the redirected wedding funds and the support of their guests, the couple was able to raise $17,500.

Jackson says these funds will help the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge, which connects citizens who want to be private sponsors with people who have been displaced by the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

“It essentially allows people in Canada to take on the responsibilities of resettling refugees, the financial and time commitment,” says Jackson. “It lets people really direct the resettlement process and help people make Toronto home directly.”

Jackson loves the traditional wedding standard, but says the couple wouldn’t change a thing about how they chose to celebrate their union.

“It really was just the perfect wedding and the perfect way to start our marriage.”