A Toronto bride is crediting a newly arrived Syrian refugee with salvaging both her wedding gown and the day itself.
Jo Du says the bridal gown that fit perfectly upon first try began falling apart hours before she was to walk down the aisle in Cambridge, Ont.
She was staying at an Airbnb rental in nearby Guelph, Ont., and did not know where to turn when the zipper of her gown detached and failed to close.
Du says one of her bridesmaids ran next door for help and discovered that a Syrian refugee who had moved into the house four days earlier had worked as a tailor in his home country.
Du says the man, Ibrahim Halil Dudu, repaired the zipper and sewed the dress back together while she was wearing the garment.
She says the experience added an extra dimension to an already special day.
"He saved the day," Du said in a telephone interview. "I don't know what my wedding day would be like without him. It's a big milestone in our lives, and everything turned out to be beautiful because of his presence there."
Du said she had no reason to expect wedding day drama based on early fittings of her gown. When she tried the dress on three days before exchanging vows with Earl Lee, she said the fit was perfect and the zipper worked as expected.
When she went to don the garment on Sunday afternoon, she was horrified to hear part of the zipper fall off the dress and realize she had no means of fastening it shut.
One of her three bridesmaids determined that a pair of pliers might come in handy to try and repair the zipper, but even such basic tools were hard to come by in the unfamiliar Airbnb rental.
While Du was frantically texting the homeowner in hopes of unearthing a toolbox, one of the bridesmaids ran to the neighbouring home.
A week earlier, Du said the wedding party may have been out of luck. But Dudu, his wife and children had landed in Guelph that very week and were willing to come to the bride's aid.
While Lee sat in a neighbouring room wondering why his bride was taking so long to get ready, Dudu and his son inspected the dress while Du hunkered down in a closet awaiting the verdict.
The tailor repaired the zipper, then had Du put the dress back on so he could assess whether or not his work would hold up through the day.
In the end, Dudu made some additional alterations while the expectant wedding party looked on.
His gentle technique, Du said, left her barely aware that any alterations were taking place. Her attention was largely focused on the clock, which was steadily ticking down towards the time the ceremony was due to get underway.
"At that point we were an hour or an hour and a half behind schedule," she said. "We hadn't even done any photos yet."
The couple was forced to rush their thanks to Dudu before heading off to get married, but gratitude lingered well after the sartorial crisis had passed.
Lindsay Coulter, the photographer tasked with documenting the day, said the significance of Dudu's help really dawned on her after the fact.
"All of us kind of realized what a beautiful moment had just happened, but I don't think it was until we went home and collected ourselves that we realized what a big deal this was," she said. "I think it really speaks volumes of the open relationship we have with Syria and refugees in general."
Du and Lee tried to find Dudu the next day to thank him for his timely assistance, but were not able to connect with him in person.
The newlyweds want him to know, however, that his contribution is very much appreciated.
"I don't know how everything can fit together so perfectly," Du said. "...It was unbelievable. I don't know how things can happen this way, but I'm very grateful."