When John Amore and Aylin Tugberk married at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Brooklyn this past June, they were following three-generations of family who have celebrated and worshiped there. But another aspect of the couple’s wedding was anything but traditional: instead of creating a typical gift registry, John and Aylin asked guests to make donations to Girl Scouts of America and to the Earth Institute in honor of their wedding.
More than 40 of John and Aylin’s friends and family from across the US and even one friend in Geneva, Switzerland responded with over $5,000 in gifts to the Earth Institute. When asked how they decided to part from the usual wedding gift tradition, the two said, “We tried to incorporate many original ideas into our wedding to reflect who we are as a couple. Rather than receive traditional gifts we wanted to redirect the generosity of our friends and family to causes we felt strongly about. Making donations instead of receiving gifts was also our subtle way of showing society that there are many different ways to have an impact.”
John and Aylin first met as colleagues at Citigroup in 2004, when John worked there for a summer while pursuing dual Master’s degrees in Business Administration and International Affairs at Columbia. Aylin also studied at Columbia, earning a Master’s in French Cultural Studies. Life kept the two in different countries until their engagement in Paris last year, after which Aylin moved to Geneva to be with John. It was their strong interest in both international affairs and global challenges that attracted them to the Earth Institute. “The more we travel and study, the more we understand that we are all citizens of a global village,” say John and Aylin. “Without global stewardship, this village will not progress. Organizations like the Earth Institute look beyond borders and politics to provide the global stewardship and practical solutions necessary to benefit all citizens in our global village.”
Aylin and John consider philanthropy a part of their lifestyle—both a way to give back to the world around them and to demonstrate their appreciation for the opportunities that they have been given. They also credit their upbringing: “Our families instilled in us a sense of responsibility to understand issues confronting society and to support those organizations that strive to improve our communities, at a local or global level.” John had already been a supporter of the Earth Institute for two years before joining with Aylin to make this extra special gift.
As for the reaction of friends and family to John and Aylin’s unconventional request, the couple reflects, “Some were inspired, others disappointed and some just confused. But our hope is that we increased awareness of the good work carried out by the Earth Institute and the Girl Scouts of America and that this idea inspires others to continue giving to such causes.” The sum of gifts that the Earth Institute received in honor of the Amore-Tugberk wedding seems to indicate that the couple’s wish came true. This outcome is at once a reflection of Aylin and John’s generosity as individuals, a celebration of their bond as partners with a shared commitment to a better global future, and a demonstration of how big change can start with the actions of just two people.
The Earth Institute thanks John and Aylin deeply for their commitment to our work in building a more just, equitable, and sustainable planet. Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Amore!