The average wedding in the United States cost $35,329 in 2016, according to the wedding planning website The Knot. Tiffany Au and Caleb Remington, think theirs can raise $500,000.
The two 27-year-olds found inspiration in filmmaker Morgan Spurlock’s The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a documentary about branding, advertising, and product placement. But rather than turn their wedding into a forum for crass commercialism as Spurlock sought to do, the young couple wants to celebrate their love by helping fund organizations that are doing work that represent the type of support they each received that allowed them to become who they are today.
Dubbed “The Greatest Wedding Ever Donated,” Au and Remington are seeking to raise $100,000 for each of five organization that work in the areas of education, mental health, homelessness, cystic fibrosis, and rare disease. The money raised will go to support Think Together, To Write Love on Her Arms, The Wayfarer Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and Global Genes (publisher of Rare Daily). Remington has the genetic lung disease cystic fibrosis and Au suffered post traumatic stress disorder from sexual abuse as a child. She credits education and after school programs for helping her own growth and development.
“We believe that the strength of a marriage is harbored in the challenges that each individual endures,” they write on their website. “We also believe that overcoming personal struggles involves a village of supporters, which is why it is so important to give back to those who gave to us. We are breaking the mold of traditional weddings by turning our wedding into a charitable gala.”
Rather than putting together a registry, the couple’s website The Greatest Wedding Ever Donated (thegwed.com) features a wish list for corporate donors and in-kind donations. The in-kind donation includes a range of goods and services to support the event. The couple is putting up $30,000 of their own money to cover most of the cost so money raised could go directly to support the five causes.
Au and Remington are a good-looking couple. They are optimistic and in love. And, in a sign this will be a successful marriage (I say this from experience), he lets her do most of the talking. He surprised her with a proposal on a hike along the Na Pail coast on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. She was photographing the hike and ended up filming the proposal without realizing it was coming. The video is on the GWED site.
Though Au and Remington grew up 15 minutes away from each other, they didn’t meet until they were adults. Au became interested in Remington when she saw his photos on a mutual friend’s Instagram feed. At one point she stole her friends phone to connect to him. They met seven months after Au first hit “like” on one of his photos. They became engaged after dating for about a year and a half. Today Au is community outreach manager of Ambry Genetics and he is a software engineer at the genetic testing company in Aliso Viejo, California. Ambry is a gold sponsor of The GWED.
The wedding will have two parts at Los Angeles’ Wiltern Theater. The first is an invitation-only gala with a $110 ticket price. People will begin to arrive at 3 p.m. for a pre-event mixer. The gala will feature live music performances, speakers from the five organizations receiving funding, celebrities, and an auction. It kicks off at 5 p.m. with Au and Remington’s exchange of vows.
All of that will be followed by a benefit concert open to the public. The so-called “wedding crashers” will need to buy a ticket. The entertainment line-up has not yet been announced, but it is expected to include Grammy-winning artists and an eclectic mix of performers.
When doctors first diagnosed Remington with cystic fibrosis as a one-year-old, they told his parents that he could be expected to live to about the age of 20. Today, his life expectancy has been extended to 37.
Asked if she had any reluctance marrying a man who has a rare disease and is only expected to live to 37, Au admits when the two started to get serious, she was scared and talk to her mother and girlfriends in talking to Remington and addressing her own issues, she grew bold and jumped into the relationship. “He’s taught me so much about life being an adventure and not in fear,” she said.
A wedding can be an act of love. A wedding can be an act of hope, an embracing of a vision of what a shared future will be. Au and Remington’s wedding, though, can be described as an act of gratitude. They are grateful for the support various organizations have provided them. They are grateful for the role those organizations have played in shaping the person they love. And they are grateful for finding someone to share their lives with, and that’s a beautiful thing.
January 11, 2018
Photograph: Caleb Remington and Tiffany Au