Turkish Couple Skip Wedding Buffet, Feed 4,000 Syrian Refugees Instead

Indrani Sengupta
Forget the flower arrangements and the gourmet catering. Forget the 200+ guests, and the designer gown. This is how you start a marriage, by being the kind of person your partner can be proud of.

Instead of spending their wedding budget catering for friends, family, colleagues, second cousins twice removed, this Turkish couple opened their doors to 4,000 Syrian refugees. Ali Üzümcüo?lu and his bride (who has not been named in local media reports) decided to hold their wedding in the Kilis province on the Syrian border, which is currently home to thousands of refugees fleeing from the conflict in Syria.

The newly married couple helped distribute the food themselves, but this generosity wasn’t limited to them alone. Their wedding guests joined in, too, and operated a series of food trucks. In effect, the whole wedding celebration—from the food to the guests to the wedding photos—was dedicated to showing a good time to those less fortunate.

The groom’s father, Ali Anant, made the following statement:

“Our wedding dinner is such a happy occasion for us and in the name of our Syrian brothers we wanted to employ the help of Kimse Yok Mu [a Turkish charity organization]. Hopefully this will be the beginning of other wedding dinners shared here with our Syrian brothers.”

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Anant’s comment is especially touching considering the discrimination and straight-up violence that some Syrian refugees in Turkey have faced. Sure, having a huge number of refugees overrun one’s country can be difficult, but difficulty is something worth stomaching for one’s brothers. And it’s good to be reminded that we are all responsible for one another, regardless of national and cultural borders.  

There’s so much we can learn from this couple and their family. Yes, our weddings are “our big day,” and we deserve a celebration to remember. But what’s more memorable than beginning one’s married life with a gesture of such compassion? 

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