‘Jilted at the al­tar but it didn’t ruin my wed­ding day’

Shelby Swink spent months plan­ning her per­fect cer­e­mony, only for her fi­ancé to dump her at the eleventh hour. So she found an un­usual way to cope…

Friday - - FRONT PAGE -

Be­tween plan­ning a wed­ding and jug­gling my three jobs, we RARELY SAW EACH OTHER, but I knew I LOVED him. Why wasn’t he sure?

Stand­ing in my wed­ding dress in front of my friends and fam­ily, I couldn’t be­lieve my big day had fi­nally ar­rived. As I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, I felt my nerves set­tle. ‘Three, two…’ the count­down be­gan. I opened my eyes and, as the first splash of blue paint hit my beau­ti­ful white gown, I couldn’t help but laugh. Then came a blob of green, and next, some red.

I gig­gled as the six peo­ple who loved me most in the world threw paint all over me and my gown. At last, I was free of all the dis­ap­point­ment and all the pain of be­ing jilted prac­ti­cally as I walked down the aisle. I fi­nally felt like me again...

I had spent eight months plan­ning ev­ery de­tail of my wed­ding to my fi­ancé Bryan Hill – a coun­try club with a pool for the cer­e­mony, a gazebo dec­o­rated with my favourite flow­ers, a guest list of 180, and my $1,500 (Dh5,500) ivory lace wed­ding dress. The pho­tog­ra­pher and the DJ had been booked, the brides­maids’ coral bou­quets or­dered, and the red vel­vet cake was wait­ing to be de­liv­ered. I’d made sure ev­ery­thing re­ally was per­fect. Af­ter all, I was mar­ry­ing the man I’d been with since we met in col­lege and who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

But five days be­fore I was set to walk down the aisle on Novem­ber 1, 2014, my fi­ancé, Bryan, 24, sud­denly said we needed to talk. We were hav­ing din­ner in the apart­ment we shared in Mem­phis in the US, and I was dis­tracted, men­tally run­ning through the last-minute ar­range­ments for the wed­ding. ‘I need to tell you some­thing,’ he mum­bled. I looked at him, but he re­fused to look back, in­stead he hung his head. My stom­ach was sud­denly in knots and I didn’t know why.

‘What is it?’ I asked. He was si­lent for a mo­ment then said, ‘I’m not sure I can go through with this wed­ding. I’m not sure we’re meant to be.’

I shook my head, shocked. ‘What?’ I asked, not sure I’d heard him right. There hadn’t been any warn­ing signs. He hadn’t said or done any­thing to make me feel any­thing less than to­tally se­cure and ex­cited that I was about to be­come Mrs Hill. Of course, I was up­set but I put it down to pre-wed­ding jit­ters. ‘Ev­ery­one has them,’ I said. ‘It’s nor­mal to be ner­vous. Just sleep on it and you’ll feel bet­ter in the morn­ing.’

He didn’t say any­thing. I felt like cry­ing but what good would that do? ‘It’s cold feet,’ I told my­self. Bryan, a per­sonal trainer, was just feel­ing over­whelmed. We were still young – I was 22, and he was hav­ing those last-minute wor­ries that I as­sumed most peo­ple get. Only I was sure I wanted to marry him and deep down I was wor­ried. Why was he feel­ing that way? Be­tween plan­ning a wed­ding and jug­gling my three jobs as a wait­ress, nanny and vol­ley­ball coach, Bryan and I rarely saw each other, but I knew that I loved him. Why wasn’t he so sure?

I spent that night at my mum Veron­ica’s house just a few miles away, hop­ing Bryan would come to his senses in the morn­ing. I couldn’t sleep. ‘Bryan’s hav­ing sec­ond thoughts,’ I told Mum. ‘I’m sure ev­ery­thing will be back to nor­mal to­mor­row,’ she said.

But the next day Bryan was quiet when we met back at our apart­ment. ‘The wed­ding is only a few days away,’ I pressed him.

‘Tell me what you want to do.’ His si­lence hung in the air. ‘I can’t marry you, Shelby,’ he said, fi­nally. ‘I’m sorry, I just I don’t love you any­more.’

As soon as I felt the first splash of paint hit me, my dis­ap­point­ment and pain be­gan to van­ish

Sell­ing my dress didn’t seem right and wear­ing it would feel even weirder, but this felt good

My ex-fi­ancé Bryan may have bro­ken my heart, but he cer­tainly didn’t break me

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