Syrian tailor living in Canada for just 4 days saves wedding
Published Tuesday, September 27, 2016 6:59PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 29, 2016 11:08AM EDT
When the zipper on Jo Du’s wedding dress broke just hours before her ceremony, a sense of panic set it. No one in the wedding party knew how to fix the dress or where to find a tailor in Guelph, Ont. on a Sunday.
But, as luck would have it, a Syrian refugee who worked as a tailor in Aleppo for 28 years had moved next door with his family four days earlier.
The serendipitous series of events is a story that the groom says “could only happen in Canada.”
“We’re so lucky that happened to us, and so grateful,” the groom, Earl Lee, told CTV Kitchener.
The wardrobe malfunction arose when Du’s bridesmaids were helping her into her gown and a tooth on the zipper broke off. The couple was renting a house in Guelph to host family and friends, and no one knew quite what to do about the dress.
But the wedding photographer had a hunch. She had noticed the neighbour’s garage door was open, so she suggested that someone could pop by and see if they might have a pair of pliers.
“A very nicely dressed woman in a bridesmaid’s dress came running up the street asking for our help,” recalled neighbour David Hobson.
When the woman explained the situation, Hobson said he had something better than tools. Earlier that week, Hobson took in a family of Syrian refugees, one of 50 families being sponsored to live in Canada by Guelph businessman Jim Estill.
Hobson knew that the father, Ibrahim Halil Dudu, was a tailor by trade and had a complete sewing kit inside.
And so, with the help of Google Translate, the bridal party explained the situation to the Syrian tailor, who cannot yet speak English.
“I was so excited and so happy,” Halil Dudu said through a translator. “I like to help Canadian people from my heart.”
Within a few minutes, the Syrian tailor pulled out his sewing kit and fixed the dress as the wedding party watched in awe.
“He literally sewed her wedding dress back onto her,” said the photographer, Lindsay Coulter, who captured the moment in film. “Everyone was so grateful. They said thank you a million times.”
Lee said in an email to CTVNews.ca that he was getting ready in a different part of the house when he saw Hobson, Halil Dudu and his son enter and go upstairs to the “bridal suite.”
It was Coulter who explained to a puzzled Lee what was happening.
“She told me there was a wardrobe malfunction, at which point I felt a shock of panic, but then she followed up by telling me Halil was a master tailor, so that put me (at) ease,” Lee recounted.
The newlyweds now say they’ve never been more proud to be Canadian. Du is an immigrant herself, and Lee's parents both immigrated to Canada as well.
The morning after their wedding, they tried to contact Halil Dudu, but he was not at home.
“We did reach David by phone that same afternoon and asked him to send our gratitude to Halil,” Lee said. “We are both extremely grateful to him for saving the day and plan to reach out to him for a more personal thank you later.”
Photos of the impromptu sewing rescue have since been posted on Coulter’s Facebook page and shared more than 1,300 times. In a caption for the post, the photographer wrote that she is “inspired by the resilience of the Syrian people.”
“Every weekend I take photos of people on the happiest days of their lives, and today one man who has seen some of the worst things our world has to offer came to the rescue,” she wrote.
Lee called Halil Dudu’s wedding dress rescue an “incredible act of kindness” from a “complete stranger who had only stepped foot in this country days ago.”
He added that he and his wife hope their story “will help Canadians view the refugees from Syria in a more positive light and remind them of the kindness that makes this country so great.”
With a report from CTV Kitchener