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Their Big Wedding Was All Set—Until She Saw a Horrific Picture that Changed Everything

Meet Samantha and Farzin. This adorable and daring Toronto couple did something that shocked their wedding guests.

They had a big wedding planned with all the works and then they canceled it. Don’t worry, they got married, but they used their wedding budget to help sponsor a Syrian family settle into Canada.

You see, one picture changed everything. When the couple saw this picture, their hearts were irreversibly gripped.


They were wrecked by a little 3-year-old named Aylan who drowned trying to leave war-torn Syria with his family. Only little Aylan’s father survived the treacherous trek across the waters.

“We were in the midst of wedding planning in September when that devastating photo of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi found on a beach came out,” Samantha said. “Like so many other people, we became acutely aware of how bad the situation was getting and how important it was to act and do something positive, so we canceled the wedding and redirected the funds.”


Samantha had been volunteering with Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge, which raises money to “help cover the cost of rent, clothing and food for one year for Syrian refugee families resettling in the Toronto area.”

They quickly changed their plans and decided to have a simple and intimate ceremony at City Hall last month along with a casual reception dinner with close friends and family at a local bar.

“We realized how all the money we would’ve put to our wedding would be better used helping give Syrian refugee families the second chance they deserve,” Farzin said.


The couple is a little over halfway to their goal of raising $27,000 to sponsor a Syrian family of four in Toronto.

“Our family and friends were absolutely thrilled and supportive,” Samantha said. “And rather than giving the traditional gift, they made donations to help fund our sponsorship of a Syrian refugee family.”

Their wedding may have been small, but their hearts are big. When generosity is a guest at your wedding, no wedding, event, project, or gift is too small or too simple. They traded in wedding details, fancy add-ons, an expensive gown and all the bells and whistles for something very different, but very fulfilling. Sometimes we hold dreams and plans tight, but when we let them go, God is quick to trade up for something better.

“Our wedding was perfect,” Samantha said, “and it was definitely the perfect way to start our marriage.”


What do you want your special day to be remembered for? Whether it’s a wedding, ministry program, nonprofit, preschool graduation, or Christmas service … what are you leaving people with?

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Esther Laurie is a staff writer at churchleaders.com. Her background is in communication and church ministry. She believes in the power of the written word and the beauty of transformation and empowering others. When she’s not working, she loves running, exploring new places and time with friends and family. It’s her goal to work the word ‘whimsy’ into most conversations.