Couple canceled their big wedding and instead gave Thanksgiving dinners to the needy

By Bonnie Miller Rubin
The Washington Post
When the pandemic upended their wedding plans, Emily Bugg and Billy Lewis tied the knot at Chicago’s city hall last month instead.

But there was still one piece of unfinished business: What to do about their $5,000 nonrefundable catering deposit? The newlyweds decided to turn it into 200 Thanksgiving dinners for people with severe mental illness.

“This just seemed like a good way to make the best of a bad situation,” said Bugg, 33, an outreach worker at Thresholds, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other psychiatric conditions.

In the week leading up to Thanksgiving, dozens of Thresholds clients received a boxed dinner of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans and other fixings from Big Delicious Planet, a high-end Chicago-based caterer.

Bugg and Lewis, 34, got engaged in July 2019 and began planning their wedding. They had booked a hip Chicago event space, a fun DJ and a photographer. Bugg purchased her gown, a slip crepe dress with spaghetti straps, and their guest list topped 150 people.

But as the pandemic stretched on, they went to Plan B, first scaling down their guest list to 50. Then, Plan C: changing dates. And finally Plan D: canceling altogether and heading to City Hall on Oct. 1.


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