Couple opts for smaller wedding, donates extra money to charity

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Shehzaan Chunara of Snellville, Georgia, met his wife, Zainab Chunara, six years ago at a religious service. He proposed in May 2014 on "The Ellen Degeneres Show."

According to the couple, in their Indian culture, three-to four-day, over-the-top wedding celebrations are expected.

But when they started looking at venues last year, the couple realized just how expensive a grandiose wedding can be.

Then Shehzaan's father had an idea that would save the couple money and make a larger impact at the same time.

“At some point my father mentioned that we could consider having a simpler wedding and donating what we budgeted to a respected organization like Aga Khan Foundation,” Shehzaan told WSBTV.

The Aga Khan Foundation works to break the cycle of poverty by investing in schools, infrastructure, hospitals and self-sustaining communities around the world. The couple said they are passionate about what AKF stands for.

Zainab said that she loved the idea from the start. She said that unlike many of her friends, she is simple and didn’t necessarily need a fancy wedding.

The couple’s parents told the pair to think about their decision before making it final. Doubts crept into Zainab's mind, but ultimately, she made the decision to opt for a smaller wedding in order to make the donation.

“(I asked myself,) what if I regret it? You only get married once, hopefully," she said. "But something just felt right."

The couple wed in a simple civil ceremony in December.

“People we didn’t even know came to see how our wedding turned out and another couple was inspired to do the same thing,” Shehzaan said.

In addition to donating their wedding budget to AKF, the couple encouraged their wedding guests to donate the money they would have spent on gifts to the charity.

While the couple didn’t reveal their total donation amount, Shehzaan told WSBTV that it was beyond what they would have spent on their wedding. She said it is a sacrifice the couple is happy to have made. 

“That internal feeling that you get, that's something that's resounding and stays with you for the rest of your life. That's better than seeing pictures,” Shehzaan said.

The couple knows that their unique wedding idea may not be for everyone, but they encourage others to think about what is most important to them.

“It doesn't matter which charity, it's just the thought that if that's what you want to do as husband and wife, then I think having a smaller wedding is the way to go,” Zainab said.

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