A week before Quinn Duane’s wedding day, her fiancé decided to call the whole thing off, leaving Duane’s family with an empty banquet hall, a boatload of decorations, and enough food to feed over 100 people. So, what to do? The food was already paid for; the canceled wedding was still going to cost the Duanes $35,000. Instead of letting it go all to waste, the mother of the bride had another idea: have the reception, but use the opportunity to give back to the community.

KCRA reports that on Saturday, Quinn Duane’s reception went on as planned, except with three major differences—she was absent, her mother Kari was in charge, and the banquet hall of Sacramento, CA’s Citizen Hotel was filled with members of the city’s homeless and hungry population. They were there to help Kari Duane consume the cauliflower, salmon, tri-tip, and gnocchi that had been ordered for the party.

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The event, unsurprisingly, was a huge success.

From KCRA:

First to arrive, nearly a half hour early, was a woman who lives in a shelter with others too old to work and too financially strapped to afford rent.

“I was thinking at that moment, if she’s the only person that comes tonight, this was worth it,” Duane said.

But more came — single people, families, grandparents and newborns.

While Quinn Duane was not there—KCRA reports that she stayed home with friends instead of attending because it would have just been too painful—the fact that something good came out of her personal tragedy may be a comfort once she’s ready to process what happened. Especially because of how important the meal was for the attendees.

Rashad Abdullah arrived with his wife and five children. Plates overflowing with food, the family ate like royalty. It was a stark contrast to their usual struggle just to eat three meals a day.

“When you’re going through a hard time and a struggle for you to get out to do something different and with your family, it was really a blessing,” Abdullah said.

His wife, Erika Craycraft, had the Duane family top of mind. Their charity means the world to her, she said.

“To lose out on something so important to yourself and then give it to someone else is really giving, really kind,” Craycraft said.

Kari Duane says she “feels a lot of heartbreak” for her daughter, but hopes that they can both take something from the experience. Exactly what they’ll take isn’t clear yet because the healing process has just begun, but the Duanes will have plenty of time to think about it in Belize this week. According to KCRA, Quinn Duane and her fiancé had booked a non-refundable trip for their honeymoon. Quinn’s still going, but she’ll be embarking on the getaway with her mother instead of her new husband. (Which is not embarrassing and actually very cool and will make a good story someday.)


Contact the author at mark.shrayber@jezebel.com.