Couple uses nonrefundable wedding catering deposit to feed the needy

A Chicago couple had to change their wedding plans due to the pandemic this year — but decided to put their nonrefundable catering deposit to good use by having the caterers feed people in need this Thanksgiving. 

Emily Bugg, 33, and Billy Lewis, 34, didn’t get to have the big wedding they’d planned, and instead tied the knot at City Hall in Chicago on October 1.

Some of their big wedding expenses were already paid, though, including $5,000 toward catering — so the couple used that deposit to provide 200 Thanksgiving dinners to people with mental illness.

Emily and Billy met on Bumble in 2017 and got married with a small wedding earlier this fall.

‘In the grand scheme of things, canceling a big wedding isn’t the worst thing that could happen,’ Emily told Good Morning America. 

But they’d already paid quite a lot of money to a caterer, Big Delicious Planet, and didn’t want the money to go to waste. (The caterer has worked with clients to reschedule events, but Emily and Billy decided to stick with their small wedding instead.)

Emily is an outreach worker at Thresholds, a nonprofit that helps people with serious mental illnesses and substance use conditions.

So she and Billy had Big Delicious Planet make Thanksgiving meals with turkey, mashed potatoes, and vegetables for Threshold clients. 

Normally, Thresholds holds a communal Thanksgiving dinner, but it, too, was canceled because of the pandemic.

Instead, the nonprofit and the caterer boxed up the meals, and the couple helped Thresholds distribute them.

‘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,’ she said. 

Mark Ishaug, CEO of Thresholds, added: ‘Emily’s donation is an incredible example of the generosity and creativity that the pandemic has inspired in so many.

‘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.  


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