The Good News in a Canceled Wedding

We often complain about how the news always seems so negative. So if you’re in the market for good news, how about this recent item about a wedding…that didn’t happen.

No, that’s not meant to be a version of the old cynical joke that marriage is some kind of prison for the unsuspected to be rescued from. But the story does start with a couple deciding at that last minute not to go through with getting married. That’s normally a not a pleasant experience for those closely involved. And I’m sure the front end of this particular situation wasn’t any different for the couple or their loved ones. But what happened in the aftermath of their decision was special.

Since the bride’s parents had already paid for a $35,000 nonrefundable reception at a swank Sacramento hotel, they decided they’d go ahead with the party.

Except they changed the guest list.

Here’s a portion of the AP account:

The bride’s mother, Kari Duane, said Sunday that rather than cancel the reception, they invited Sacramento’s homeless for a once in a lifetime meal Saturday at the Citizen Hotel, one of the city’s finest venues.

 Duane said her 27-year-old daughter called her Monday to tell her she and her fiance had decided not go through with the wedding. Soon after, the family decided to share the nonrefundable event with the less fortunate.

“Even though my husband and I were feeling very sad for our daughter, it was heartwarming to see so many people be there and enjoy a meal,” Duane said.

She said they had already paid for a reception that would have hosted 120 guests. About 90 homeless single people, grandparents and whole families with newborns showed up and enjoyed a meal that included appetizers, salad, gnocchi, salmon, and even tri-tip. Some even dressed up for the occasion.

(For the record, I didn’t even know what tri-tip was before I read the article. But it looks right up my alley.)

Three quick thoughts on this story.

1. The (often understandable) temptation in difficult situations is to fixate on your own hardship, misery, inconvenience, etc. What I find very admirable in this case is that the bride’s parents asked how their loss and inconvenience could be used to benefit others. Using lemons to make lemonade is a cliché, but it certainly seems to describe the situation here.

2. It might be easy to overlook the fact that the Duanes decided not to go ahead with the initial guest list. After all, the promise of great party could probably get people past the potential awkwardness of the wedding that wasn’t (did I mention the tri-tip?). But to their credit, they went outside the box to those who might appreciate such a party even more.

3. If all this sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Jesus commanded us to do just this kind of thing in Luke 14:12-14. And it’s worth asking why Jesus would want us to show kindness to those who aren’t in a position to repay it. The answer surely involves the fact that this is exactly what God does for each and every one of us. Our lives before we came to Christ certainly didn’t deserve his forgiveness and blessing. And contrary to what we’re sometimes tempted to think, they don’t afterward either. That’s why this story of a called-off wedding turns out to be a picture of grace…grace that comes to us in the good news of the gospel.

One Comment

  1. Todd Scott said:


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