I know many of you enjoyed the 1st story of how I bought an engagement ring with just using £2 coins, but today I’m going to share how Delta Airlines paid for our Groupon Wedding.

Please adjust your seats to the upright position.  

Phase 1: A Groupon wedding

A very natural question to have at this point is … “what on earth is a Groupon wedding?” 

That was our exact reaction when we first stumbled upon them.

For those of you who don’t know Groupon is basically a website where you can buy ‘vouchers’ or ‘coupons’ for a wide range of products, services, experiences, etc.

Well turns out they even sell wedding packages.

Groupon has always played a starring role in our relationship as we have always used them for dates and fun experiences.

“If we weren’t sure what we wanted to do for our date night, a little game of Groupon roulette would soon give us some ideas…”

Up until that point, we were planning on getting married in Germany ( as my wife Jaci is German.)

We were going to rent a facility and do it all ourselves.

We weren’t crazy about that idea (because of all the work involved), but options are limited when working for a non-profit in New York City.

That all changed when we came across a 4-star beach-side hotel in Donegal, Ireland that offered an all-inclusive wedding package on Groupon…

We joked about it at first and suggested how hilarious and typical it would be if we got our wedding on Groupon, but our smiling faces turned to serious ones when we starting to look into it

JACI: This is actually really nice. I’d love to get married near the beach.

MATTHEW: This price cannot be real, what’s the catch?

The catch.

Turns out there was one… a somewhat minor detail.

You had to get married in January. *Sad face.*

Unfortunately for us, that wasn’t possible considering we were looking at this in December and needed a summer date.

Our ideas and plans of a sunny, beachy, package wedding deflated and we moved on… Or at least we would have if some wise words didn’t come to mind:

“You have not because you ask not” – Jesus

MATTHEW: Babe would you really like to get married there?”

JACI: Yes!

MATTHEW: You don’t mind not getting married in Germany?

JACI: No!

MATTHEW: Ok, well then let me try something crazy.

Something crazy.

Ok, so it’s not exactly the wildest thing I’ve ever done, but it definitely was quite tongue and cheek.

I emailed the hotel and explained to them our situation and practically begged them for a summer date, saying that we didn’t mind getting married on a strange day of the week (like Monday.)

1ST HOTEL EMAIL: We don’t usually do things like this, but we will talk to management and see what they say.

We were excited and hopeful but didn’t let our hopes get too high…

2ND HOTEL EMAIL: Well, we love your story so much and would love to get behind you. We’d like to offer you the Groupon package for Monday the 22nd of August. 

Result!

We were over the moon, to say the least, but little did we know it was just ‘phase 1’ of a grand scheme…

Phase 2: How Delta Airlines Picked Up The Cheque

Fast forward six months and our Groupon wedding plans were well underway with W-DAY soon approaching.

We were flying back to Northern Ireland for a wedding which luckily allowed us to make some finishing touches of our own (we were living in NYC at the time and were moving to Belfast after our wedding.)

The day we were to fly I got a phone call from Delta:

DELTA: Hello Mr. Thompson. Would you be interested in taking a later flight? We will offer you $200 to fly tomorrow instead. 

MATTHEW: That’s tempting, I really would if I could, but we have a full schedule lined up sorry!

*click.*

No big deal, we finished our day of work, grabbed our luggage and took the subway to JFK airport. 

However, when we checked in the clerk was acting a little… odd.

CHECK IN CLERK: [handing us our passports back] Yeah I’m sure you guys will get seats, yeah yeah you should, don’t worry, there is probably room for you. 

MATTHEW: What do you mean, we booked these five months ago?

CHECK IN CLERK: Don’t worry, never mind, I’m sure you will be fine. 

Not exactly an encounter that inspired confidence.

The Situation.

After we checked in, we simply forgot about it all and went through security, as usual, walked around and had a tasty meal (we love and miss Buffalo Wild Wings.)

Hand luggage and tickets in hand, we sauntered over to our gate and waited patiently to be called.

It was getting kinda close to our boarding time, but there seemed to be no sign of activity…

JACI: The plane’s probably just delayed. 

10 minutes pass. The Delta staff start to look worried and begin working at a frantically fast rate.

DELTA STAFF: [into the intercom] Ladies and gentlemen thank you so much for joining us today. We have a slight situation to take care of before we board and we ask at this time if anyone would be interested in receiving $400 compensation to fly tomorrow to please come and speak to us at the desk. Thank you. 

The passengers in the waiting area start to look anxious and begin to chatter amongst themselves.

MATTHEW: Woah, that would be nice right? $800.

JACI: It’s a shame we have those appointments tomorrow. 

MATTHEW: You’re right. 

Some backpackers rush to the desk and cash out their bounty and walk away cheerfully. 

After that, we dropped the matter and got back to waiting.

The Bidding Begins

What happened next can only be described as a mixture between comedy, chaos, and mania.

DELTA STAFF: [into the intercom] Ladies and gentlemen… we are offering $500 compensation to each passenger who agrees to fly tomorrow.

MATTHEW raises his eyebrows while JACI keeps a poker face. More commotion starts to build at the gate. 

Then basically every five minutes the staff would increase the offer by $100.

DELTA STAFF: [into the intercom] Ladies and gentlemen… we are offering $500 compensation…

…$600

…$700

…$800

…$900

…$1000

When it got to the $1000 mark, I just about lost my mind.

MATTHEW: Babe we have got to take this!

JACI: But what about all our appointments?!

MATTHEW: I dunno we can make it work.

Silence.

MATTHEW: If I can make it that we won’t miss any of them can we take it?

JACI: Maybe…

*Challenge accepted*

Change of plans.

The next few minutes were spent frantically texting and calling Ireland to rearrange everything.

Accommodation changes, flower appointments, hotel wedding appointments and family plans.

All of them worked out fine except for one, which had to be attended the next day…

MATTHEW: Ok it’s going to work shall we do it?

JACI: Go talk to them.

DELTA STAFF: [into the intercom] … $1200… 

I went over to the zoo that had now become the Delta desk. People were complaining about the delay and were worried they were going to be kicked off the flight etc.

MAN: I heard they overbooked it by 33 people.

WOMEN: Not everyone is going to be able to get onboard. 

TEEN: [to his parents] can I stay behind, take the money and catch up with you guys later?

I talked with the staff who were very professional and helpful explaining that we would take the deal but we HAD to be in Dublin the next day. 

DELTA STAFF: Sorry sir but there are no flights to Dublin.

MATTHEW: Isn’t there other flights to the UK tonight? Put us on one of them, and we can catch a connecting flight. 

DELTA STAFF: I’m sorry all the other flights are booked.

MATTHEW: Ok well put our names on the list if that changes.

He walks over to Jaci looking defeated and deflated.

JACI: Any luck?

MATTHEW: Unfortunately not. There aren’t any other flights tonight, but they said they will look for other options.

JACI: [slyly] I will only do this on one condition.

MATTHEW: What condition?

JACI: If we get the money we have to pay for seat covers at the wedding. 

Context: Jaci wanted to get seat covers, I didn’t because I didn’t want to spend the money on them, because I am frugal and cruel… 

MATTHEW: Deal.

They shake hands.

Some time passes.

DELTA STAFF: [into the intercom] …$1300…

…$1400

…$1500

…Ladies and gentlemen, we are offering our maximum payout of $1600 for any volunteers willing to take tomorrow’s flight.

MATTHEW runs up to the desk.

MATTHEW: Look our deal is still on the table, you have two volunteers right here you just have to get us to Dublin. 

DELTA STAFF: I’m working on it.

Some moments pass.

DELTA STAFF: Ok there is a flight to Manchester in 5 minutes, two seats just opened up. You’ll have a four-hour layover but will be in Dublin for 12.

MATTHEW: Ok one second.

He rushes over to JACI and explains the deal on the table. During this time an email is sent out to 20+ passengers explaining that their tickets have been canceled and they will have to take another flight.

He opens the email and realizes they no longer have any tickets and sprints over to the desk which now has a mob around it.

MATTHEW: We’ll take it!

The staff member frantically clicks his computer mouse.

DELTA STAFF: Ok, please sign here and here. Your new gate number is 12, you have 5 minutes, they are holding the plane for you if you don’t run you’ll miss it. 

MATTHEW: Thank you!

He runs back to JACI and grabs their bags, explains what is going on and they both start to sprint towards the gate. 

Once they reach the gate, they are quickly ushered onboard and are greeted with angry looking customers who have been waiting for them. 

MATTHEW and JACI sit down, flustered, warm, but happy. They fly to Manchester, then Dublin, make all their appointments and are $3200 richer for their hassle.

A story of provision.

When we made the decision to get married, we had no idea how it would all pan out.

After working on a voluntary basis for three years, there wasn’t a lot of cash in the bank, and the future looked uncertain. We really believe that stories like this and all the other ones are an example of God providing for us when we needed him most.

 “For whom God calls he provides.” – My Granny.

We had felt like we were obedient to his call by moving to New York, serving there and getting married when we did. 

 Photo by  Johnny Frazer
Photo by Johnny Frazer

It was amazing to see how he provided for us in every way… including a warm sunny 22 degrees wedding day in Donegal, Ireland (a miracle worth canonization in itself.) 

Takeaway points to land this plane

  1. It never hurts to ask
  2. If God has called you to do something he will provide a way to make it happen
  3. If you are getting married look for a Groupon wedding (lol) 

Although while this goes without saying it often does no harm to do so anyway:

  1. Thank you so much to Delta for handling a tricky situation well
  2. Massive shout out to The Ballyliffin Lodge for an incredible wedding experience (highly recommend.) 

And that is the story of how Delta Airlines paid for our Groupon wedding!

More from Matthew Thompson

Want to read another wedding-related story?

Try: The story of how I bought an engagement ring with spare change. 

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Thanks very much for reading.

All the best,

– Matthew Thompson