‘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…
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