Turning wedding excess into act of charity


Date posted: August 17, 2015

When Barbara and I were married, the Montana marriage license was $2. A marriage license in Santa Barbara County costs $100.

The average wedding in the United States costs about $28,400. Ours was $7 — the $2 license, $5 for a Justice of Peace, plus gas for the car we eloped in. This fall we will have been married 66 years, which comes out to about 11 cents a year, if you include the gas.

We of ordinary means know there is no way we would spend $28,000 for a wedding. That average means while there are many weddings costing much less, just a few $100,000 weddings raises the average. Even so, the $53.4-billion wedding industry has placed unrealistic demands and expectations on young couples.

In particular messages to the bride, “it’s your day” rather than “it’s our day,” and “this is the most important day of your life” puts incredible pressure on the bride. With the sub-message, if it doesn’t go perfectly, it is a disaster.

The wedding day is only one important day in anyone’s life. And unfortunately, depending upon the size and expense of the wedding, the greater the chance is that the day will become a blur of stress, anxiety and an increased chance of a boo-boo.

Turkish weddings traditionally last three days, and for the well-to-do Turkish families, no expense is spared. According to news releases, the groom’s father, Ali Uzumcuoglu, who volunteers with Turkish charity Kimse Yok Mu, was the originator of an idea — “Why share the big, delicious dinner with our family and friends, knowing there are so many people in need living next door.”

Turkey is currently home to almost 2 million Syrian refugees who have fled the civil war in their home country. Around 4,000 of those refugees live in Kilis, a town near the Syrian border. At first, the bride said she was shocked when her fiancé presented the idea off sharing their wedding banquet with the refugees, but “we quickly embraced the idea.”

The bride, groom and wedding guests banded together to operate food trucks and steam tables, sharing the banquet with refugee families. The bride, Esra Polat, said, “I am happy we had the opportunity to share our wedding meal with the people who are in real need.”

The groom said guests at his unconventional wedding were so inspired by the day’s events, they are planning similar gestures for their own weddings.

Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country. Kimse Yok Mu is a charitable foundation. Loving your neighbor as you love yourself is not confined to Western society.


The Rev. Chuck Arnold is pastor of Valley of the Flowers United Church of Christ in Vandenberg Village. He can be reached at 733-3333.

Source: Lompoc Record , August 13, 2015


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