The couple completely scrapped their previously-planned formal reception and arranged for the pre-paid meals to benefit someone who'd need it the most.
Melanie and Tyler Tapajna were one of the many couples across the world who quickly realized that all the plans and arrangements they'd made for their 2020 wedding wouldn't work out during a pandemic. While many decided to postpone their big day until the COVID-19 situation gets better, the Tapajnas came up with a heartwarming plan to make their August 15 wedding even more memorable than originally planned. The couple completely scrapped their previously planned formal reception and arranged for the pre-paid meals to benefit those who'd need it the most.
According to TODAY, after months of planning, the couple from Parma, Ohio—on July 1—came to the conclusion that they wouldn't be able to host dozens of guests at their planned nuptials. Although their original venue, The Lodge at Allardale, was open (albeit under very strict regulations), the Tapajnas were nervous about hosting 150 people under such circumstances and instead decided to plan an intimate ceremony for family and close friends. "We had everything planned down to the linens," the bride revealed. While they canceled and got refunds for almost all other arrangements they'd previously made, the couple decided not to do the same with the food they'd ordered from their favorite local food truck and caterer, Betty's Bomb Ass Burgers.
Wanting to mark the beginning of their marriage with a compassionate gesture, the Tapajnas got in touch with Laura's Home — a nonprofit that feeds and houses homeless women and children in Cleveland — and requested permission to donate the food from Betty's. They also connected Lena Brown, who owns Betty's, to with the kitchen manager at Laura's Home to figure out how best to serve the food on her menu in a cafeteria-style kitchen to hungry women and children.
Although they were more than happy to donate the food, the Tapajanas had one special request. Melanie and Tyler wanted to get behind the kitchen counter and help serve the meal to the residents. "It's not unusual for us to have meal donations at our facilities," said Rich Trickel, CEO of The City Mission, which operates crisis centers in Cleveland. "What made it completely special is that from their wedding ceremony, Melanie in her beautiful gown and Tyler in his tux, put on a hairnet and gloves and served the guests. I mean who does that? An unbelievable act of generosity and compassion."
"Why not spread the love? Seeing everybody happy is making us happy," Melanie told WKYC. "We paid for it already so we're like we might as well donate it." The Tapajanas' generosity couldn't have come at a better time for Laura's Home, as The City Mission — which oversees operations at the shelter — had only just begun reintroducing volunteer opportunities after stopping everything in mid-March when the Novel Coronavirus prompted emergency closures across the country. The shelter currently houses about 145 single women and several pairs of mothers and their children, all of whom were invited to eat and celebrate the newlyweds in socially-distant groups. The newlyweds revealed that the amount they had already paid Brown to cater their wedding covered the cost of so much prepared food that Laura's Home was able to feed its residents for several days after their wedding day.
"I asked Tyler what his favorite part of our wedding (was) and he told me it was the amount of smiles that it brought," said Melanie. "Not only was it the women and children, but the volunteers and workers were happy to see everyone enjoy themselves. Of course, getting to marry my best friend was one of my favorite parts." Trickel corroborated that he'd witnessed many smiles during the couple's visit, especially when the couple took off their gloves and hairnets after serving and joined the dining room to meet everyone. "The kids were thrilled and, the little girls especially, were awestruck 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."