Toronto Couple Cancels Big Wedding to Help Sponsor Syrian Refugee Family Instead

PHOTO:Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian said they opted for a small city hall wedding on Oct. 9, 2015, to use the money they wouldve spent on a bigger wedding to instead help Syrian refugees.
Jim Martin
Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian said they opted for a small city hall wedding on Oct. 9, 2015, to use the money they would've spent on a bigger wedding to instead help Syrian refugees.

A Toronto couple recently canceled their big wedding to use the money instead to help sponsor a Syrian refugee family's settlement into Canada.

Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian had planned a traditional wedding for March -- complete with a gorgeous venue, a caterer and other vendors – costing tens of thousands of dollars, Jackson told ABC News today.

But the two decided to toss their plans after realizing the money could be used for a cause close to their hearts and greater than themselves, said Jackson, a doctorate student studying public policy.

"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," Jackson 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."

The bride explained she'd been volunteering for Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge, which has been fundraising money to help cover the cost of rent, clothing and food for one year for Syrian refugee families resettling in the Toronto area. She and Yousefian decided to use the money for the wedding to help sponsor a Syrian family of four.

PHOTO:Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian said they opted for a small city hall wedding on Oct. 9, 2015, to use the money they wouldve spent on a bigger wedding to instead help Syrian refugees.
Jim Martin
PHOTO:Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian said they opted for a small city hall wedding on Oct. 9, 2015, to use the money they would've spent on a bigger wedding to instead help Syrian refugees.

"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," Jackson said.

Jackson added that she and Yousefian acted fast and decided to have a small City Hall wedding last month, followed by a casual dinner with friends and family and a small reception at a bar in Toronto.

PHOTO:Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge members (L-R) Ratna Omidvar, Wendy Cukier, Samantha Jackson, Farzin Yousefian and Krysten Connely are pictured together here.Jim Martin
PHOTO:Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge members (L-R) Ratna Omidvar, Wendy Cukier, Samantha Jackson, Farzin Yousefian and Krysten Connely are pictured together here.

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

PHOTO:Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian said they opted for a small city hall wedding on Oct. 9, 2015, to use the money they wouldve spent on a bigger wedding to instead help Syrian refugees.
Jim Martin
PHOTO:Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian said they opted for a small city hall wedding on Oct. 9, 2015, to use the money they would've spent on a bigger wedding to instead help Syrian refugees.

The couple has raised $17,500 so far toward their goal of $27,000, which is the amount needed to sponsor a Syrian family of four in the Toronto area, she said.

PHOTO:Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian said they opted for a small city hall wedding on Oct. 9, 2015, to use the money they wouldve spent on a bigger wedding to instead help Syrian refugees.
Jim Martin
PHOTO:Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian said they opted for a small city hall wedding on Oct. 9, 2015, to use the money they would've spent on a bigger wedding to instead help Syrian refugees.

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