Emily Bugg and Billy Lewis lost their $5,000 catering deposit when their wedding was canceled due to coronavirus restrictions. But they got married anyway and their non-refundable deposit went to charity.
It's a novel and humanitarian way to deal with a problem that couples occasionally face in the COVID-19 pandemic, when their weddings are canceled or re-scheduled.
"We've had a couple cancellations, but nobody's ever said, 'Hey, I've got an idea. Put my deposit toward a charitable cause,'" said Heidi Moorman Coudal, the owner of Big Delicious Planet catering company. Coudal agreed to use the Illinois couple's deposit toward 200 Thanksgiving meals for Thresholds, a nonprofit whose clients include people with mental illnesses and substance use disorders in the state.
It’s something the catering company had never done before in 26 years of operations, Coudal told USA TODAY. It was bit of good news in an otherwise rough year for the company, which typically caters 60 weddings per year, she said. Like other caterers this year, Big Delicious Planet has been hit hard by protocols designed to curb the spread of COVID-19.
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Big Delicious Planet, a Chicago-based caterer, prepared meals that included turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, salad, bread and butter, and a desert, Coudal said. Grace Hamilton, the company's director of weddings and events, brought Bugg's idea to Coudal, the owner said.
Coudal said she and her employees jumped at the chance to help. Four Big Delicious Planet employees cooked the meal and boxed it up. Bugg and other volunteers hand-delivered the food, Coudal said.
"My initial reaction was like, 'Wow, that's different," Coudal said.
She added, "I thought this was a really nice cause and a nice idea and I think it was kind of refreshing to do something nice when so many bad things are happening right now and too many people are in need. I was like, 'Sure, let's do it.'"
Bugg, 33, works for Threshold as an outreach worker, the company said in an email. She and Lewis, 34, got married on Oct. 1 at City Hall in Chicago. The couple also spoke with the venue Salvage One, which agreed to put their deposit toward a future event for the Epilepsy Foundation, another cause Bugg has a connection to, Thresholds said.
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"In the grand scheme of things, canceling a big wedding isn't the worst thing that could happen,” Bugg said in a statement. “We're happy to be married, and we're so happy that we could help Thresholds' clients feel the connection of a Thanksgiving meal as a result of the wedding cancellation."
Thresholds usually holds communal dinners for its clients. They were canceled due to pandemic-related restrictions.
“Emily's donation is an incredible example of the generosity and creativity that the pandemic has inspired in so many,” Thresholds CEO Mark Ishaug said in a statement.
He added: “I know that Emily's act of kindness will inspire others to do the same and build love and connection in a difficult time, in any way we can. Thresholds is so grateful for our staff, like Emily, who are so dedicated to their work serving those with mental illnesses.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Couple uses $5,000 catering deposit to serve Thanksgiving meals