Everything was beautiful. The details came out just the way the bride and groom had dreamed they would. Ana Paula Meriguete and Victor Ribeiro got married in the Catholic Church and received the congratulations of their guests at a brief reception afterwards.
But the real celebration was yet to come, and it was not a traditional one: Instead of a typical wedding banquet, the young couple decided to offer a meal for poor children and their families in the coastal city of Guarapari, in the Brazilian state of Espírito Santo. There were 160 guests at the party.
“We decided to feed those who really need it, because our family members have what they need,” said the groom, for whom the idea of a traditional wedding banquet didn’t make any sense in the face of so many needs. “There’s nothing wrong with having a wedding banquet; it’s a worthy celebration, but we just couldn’t do it,” said the physical education teacher to the Brazilian newspaper Estadão.
The newlyweds, who sing in the choir at their parish, said that the idea of offering the meal was inspired by a popular Brazilian hymn, “My kingdom has much to say,” which is often sung during communion at Mass. The lyrics of the second verse say:
“If you want to hold my dinner,
don’t invite friends, brothers, and others.
Go out to the streets in search of those
Who cannot pay you back,
And your actions will be remembered by God.”
These words, of course, are taken straight from the Gospel (Luke 14:12-14).
The bride and groom wanted to finance the celebration on their own. However, their friends and family wanted to help out too. That was just the beginning; monetary donations and offers to work as volunteers started to pour in. The network of solidarity grew, and the meal even ended up being offered for free by a professional catering company.
On the couple’s Instagram account @rezacomigo, Victor wrote in a post,
This photo sums up a bit of our essence, our partnership, our love, and who we really are! Weak, sinners, in need of God, but aware of Divine Mercy. We’ve always been very good friends, and we take care of each other, especially regarding the spiritual life of each one of us, and today more than ever we need to be partners, faithful friends, who walk together along the path of holiness, on the way to heaven! One thing is clear: never give up on your dreams, but also, never forget to entrust them to God through the hands of the Virgin Mary. A mother never leaves her children unprotected!”