Dressed in her wedding dress, her hair in a sleek plaited updo, she looked every bit the perfect bride. Except that Yiru Sun wasn't getting married. And she didn't know any of the guests who sat at the tables intended for her wedding reception.

The Princeton graduate and Corporate Vice President at New York Life Insurance had cancelled her wedding two months earlier after refusing to sign the proposed prenuptial agreement.

But, faced with a non-refundable $US8,000 deposit for the reception, the single-mother of one decided to find a group of families in need to spend the day with her at the luxurious Harold Pratt House in New York's Upper East Side.

Sun says the decision to share her day with kids in need helped her get through it. Photo / CBS New York
Sun says the decision to share her day with kids in need helped her get through it. Photo / CBS New York

Teaming up with the Salvation Army and nonprofit organization Inwood House, Sun's wedding day became a pre-Mother's Day luncheon where children had their faces painted, were given balloons and ice blocks and treated to musical entertainment by fellow guests.

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Speaking to New York Post, Sun said: "At that moment, I started to think it was God's plan.

"I cannot be the princess of my wedding day, but I can give the kids a fairy tale."

Sun addressed her guests, sharing her story of how she had grown up poverty stricken in China before studying in America where she won a full scholarship to complete her PhD in electrical engineering at Princeton.

Guests were treated to lunch and entertainment at the swanky Harold Pratt House in New York. Photo / CBS New York
Guests were treated to lunch and entertainment at the swanky Harold Pratt House in New York. Photo / CBS New York

Guest William Natal described the invitation as an incredibly selfless act.

"Just to turn around and do something that helps others is an amazing show of character," he told CBS New York.

While she remained tight-lipped about her former husband-to-be and the details surrounding her prenuptial concerns, Sun credited hosting the event with helping to take her mind off the fact that it should have been her wedding day.

"My guests feel even happier than wedding guests," she said.

- nzherald.co.nz