REAL LIFE

We gave our $20k wedding away to strangers

Woman reveals why she made the generous donation.

Incredible bride-to-be put her own pain aside to help a stranger.

Here, Ann, 32 tells the story in her own words.

I’ll never forget the joy I felt as my partner of nine years got down on bended knee and proposed.

‘Sorry it’s taken me so long,’ Nathan Yeung, 33, smiled. ‘But will you marry me?’ ‘Yes!’ I said, delighted.

Our beautiful children, Phenix, eight, and Jordan, seven, couldn’t wait for us to get married. Being a very private couple, a quiet, intimate ceremony at some exotic destination would have been just perfect for us. However, our families were so excited about the idea of a big wedding, that we felt we couldn’t disappoint them.

Wanting to please our 120 guests, we chose a glamorous, colonial-style homestead estate in Parramatta as the wedding venue, which would be easy for everyone to get to. ‘That way all our loved ones can come,’ I smiled at Nathan. ‘It’s beautiful,’ he agreed.

As the wedding preparations continued, we found our choices were more and more influenced by everyone else’s needs rather than our own. It began to feel like it wasn’t ‘our day’ at all. But I didn’t have much time to dwell on that – life was extremely hectic. Nathan and I were working ridiculous hours at the cafe we owned. Buying it when Jordan was just a year old, we’d naively believed we’d be able to cherry pick our shifts so as to spend more time with our children. Instead, we were working constantly.

The cumulative stress of the wedding preparations and working too much was like a pressure cooker. Unable to even communicate, Nathan and I were constantly at loggerheads and argued over the silliest things. As the big day loomed, I was acutely aware this wasn’t how a husband and wife should be.

After another explosive argument three months before the wedding, the terrible truth dawned on me like a tonne of bricks. We were in no fit shape to get married. ‘Why are we still fighting?’ I said, weeping. ‘Maybe we aren’t ready to get married at this point in our lives,’ Nathan said. Ironically, it was the one thing we did agree on.

Splitting up, it was a very dark time for both of us. The hardest part was seeing the children’s faces crumple when we told them that Mummy and Daddy weren’t getting married.‘Remember, we are still a family and that will never change,’ we said, hugging them close.

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Some people in our family couldn’t understand why we were splitting up, then there was the inevitable question of the wedding. By that point, the venue was almost paid for, my dress had been made, and deposits had been left for the flowers and photography. All up, we’d spent $20,000 and it was too short notice to get our money back on anything.

I felt that if something good could come from all this, there would be a light at the end of the tunnel.Then I had a brainwave.‘Why don’t we give the wedding away to a couple less fortunate?’ I suggested to Nathan.‘That’s a great idea,’ he agreed. Giving back is very important to Nathan and me. We always donate our tips from the cafe and over the past five years we’ve given away $20,000.

When I came across an Australian charity called My Wedding Wish – that gifts weddings to terminally ill people – I knew immediately this incredible organisation was The One. By then, there were only a couple of weeks until the November 11 nuptials so time was getting exceptionally tight. Thankfully, the charity’s founder Lynette Maguire was able to find the perfect couple.

Megan, 38 and Ant, 40, wanted to get married but he was battling terminal bowel cancer. With all the medical appointments, emotional stress and complications from chemo, there hadn’t been time to organise a wedding.

Like us, they had two small children. My heart went out to them and I realised, despite what was going on, how lucky Nathan and I were. 
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Ant and Megan with their beautiful children (Credit: DC Images)

There wasn’t much time to get things organised but once My Wedding Wish spread the word within the wedding community, everyone pulled together. They were gifted everything from a suit to a photographer and outfits for the children. Once our venue, Oatlands House, heard about Megan and Ant’s plight, they threw in a load of extras to make their day really special.

I even got to witness what a magical wedding it was when I took my kids along to the reception. Seeing how happy Megan and Ant were made all the heartache of the last few months worthwhile.

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Seeing their happiness was amazing (Credit: DC Images)

‘Now I can see it was always meant to be yours and this was just the way it had to happen,’ I told Megan.

‘Well, it could not have been more right for us,’ Megan said, her eyes filling up with tears. ‘Thank you.’

Nathan and I are so happy we were able to help Megan and Ant. The feeling we got from giving them such a special memory is something money simply can’t buy. As for our relationship, now there is no looming deadline we can take the time to smooth out all the bumps and see what happens. If it’s meant to be it will be, but we will always be a family.

To find out more about My Wedding Wish, click here.

Read more in this week’s issue of that’s life!

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