Couple donates wedding day food to shelter, spends day serving the homeless

Like many soon-to-be-married couples, Melanie and Tyler Tapajna had big plans for their wedding day. They were supposed to have a grandiose ceremony, complete with a DJ and delicious food from a caterer. However, the coronavirus hit and spoiled all the arrangements they’ve set.

But even if their wedding didn’t turn out the way they imagined it, Melanie and Tyler found they could turn a rather sad situation into a positive one. While typical weddings have the newlyweds as the stars of the event, this couple decided not to make theirs just about them.

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After months of meticulous planning, it hit the couple that a big wedding wasn’t for them. They were hesitant about having 150 people at The Lodge at Allardale, their original venue. The place was open, but they had to comply with stringent regulations.

“We had everything planned down to the linens,” Melanie told TODAY Food.

The lovebirds cut down the number of guests and decided to push through with their August 15 wedding. They had an intimate backyard ceremony with only their immediate family members as witnesses. They also had pre-ordered food from their favorite food truck and caterer, Betty’s Bomb Ass Burgers. But instead of getting a full refund, Melanie and Tyler decided to put the food to better use.

Since they couldn’t have the regular reception, they contacted The City Mission’s Laura’s Home Women’s Crisis Center, a shelter for women and children in need, to ask if they could donate their food. Lena Brown, the owner of Betty’s Bomb Ass Burgers, coordinated with the kitchen manager at the center to determine how to best serve the food in their cafeteria-style kitchen.

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Decked out in their full wedding attire, Melanie and Tyler wore their hairnets and masks to help serve fried chicken, salad, green beans, and mac and cheese to the center’s residents. Even if the food didn’t serve its intended purpose, the newlyweds think it turned out better this way.

Their donation kept the tummies of 135 women and children full for that day.

According to Richard Trickel, CEO The City Mission, it’s not unusual for them to have meal donations in their facilities. However, it’s the first time that someone donated their reception food to Laura’s Home.

“What made it completely special is that from their wedding ceremony, Melanie in her beautiful gown and Tyler in his tux, put on ahairnet and gloves and served the guests,” he said. “I mean who does that? An unbelievable act of generosity and compassion.”

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As it turns out, the couple is no stranger to acts of generosity. According to Melanie and Tyler, they have donated to a charity yearly ever since they met at a friend’s wedding in 2016. The difference this time is that they got to witness everyone’s reaction in person. It was even more special because it was their first significant event together after they got married.

Seeing the happiness on all the kids’ faces, Melanie and Tyler were certain that their wedding day turned out even better than they imagined. After all, nothing feels better than knowing they’ve helped other people.

“Why not spread the love?” Melanie said. “Seeing everybody happy is making us happy.”

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Trickel said that the couple’s generous act made a significant impact on the women and children at the center.

“The kids were thrilled and, the little girls especially, were awe struck by this,” he said. “It made an impression on these people — women and kids, who are homeless and too often overlooked — that there are people that care for them, and who want to do something to express that.”

Congratulations and kudos to these newlyweds! Share this story to spread the spirit of positivity and generosity during these difficult times.