I remember the moment Adam proposed to me in a surreal kind of way. I don’t remember every single detail, I was too overcome with emotion, excitement and love. What I remember quite clearly is a few days later when that giddy feeling calmed down and a feeling of immense responsibility came over me. It was not a bad feeling more of a sobering feeling. I took a moment to let the gravity of the situation sink in. In this post, I am not focusing on the fun, exciting parts of being engaged and planning a wedding. The truth is, it doesn’t always work out the way. Sometimes Brides and Grooms find themselves cancelling their wedding. It is a reality that many couples face but hardly anyone talks about. It’s exactly what happened to a very dear friend of mine.
I met Amica and her ex-fiance at University. We all studied together and at the time, they seemed like the perfect couple who were madly in love. Once we left University, their relationship progressed along naturally. They moved in together and eventually became engaged. They were taking all the conventional steps at the appropriate times. It all seemed so normal, until it wasn’t. To this day, I am still left with questions. ‘How did this happen?’ is something I must have said to Amica a hundred times. If I was this confused and upset, how the hell did she feel?
I could talk for days and days about how amazing Amica is and how she handled cancelling her wedding and her break-up like a true badass. Or, I could just let you read for yourself.
Tell us a bit about your relationship before the proposal. How long were you together, were you expecting the proposal?
We had been together for just over five years before we got engaged. Our relationship was strong, or so I thought. He was my best friend, my person. As with all relationships, we had our ups and downs, but we always came through stronger after every good and bad moment. By the time we got engaged I was 100% certain that this was the man I was, not only going to spend the rest of my life with but that I would always be able to turn to and who would always be there for me – my “safe place” you know? I won’t say that I was expecting the proposal, that was still a pleasant surprise, but I knew we would get engaged at some point.
When accepting the marriage proposal, did you have any doubts?
Not even a little bit! I felt so happy and so in love! Thinking back on our relationship now though, I see how unfulfilled I was.
Did he ask for your parent’s permission/blessing? If so, did they respond favourably?
He had asked a few years prior when we first moved in together. My parents had definitely responded favourably – they loved him too.
At the time he proposed though he did not say anything to either of them. The only person he discussed it with was my brother, who was very excited for us.
Had anyone in your life raised concerns over the relationship prior to the proposal?
Yes. I recall you actually, and a couple other friends. As well as my mom, saying on occasion that I had changed or, for lack of a better term, “fallen in line” with his life to make him happy while neglecting the things that made me happy. At the time I brushed it off thinking that compromise was part of a healthy relationship. Which is true, but only if the other party reciprocates.
Was he resistant to planning the wedding at any point?
Only towards the end when I think, he had changed his mind about getting married.
What were the early signs that perhaps the wedding wouldn’t/shouldn’t go ahead?
We weren’t on the same page anymore about our relationship. In fact, I think he left the story completely.
Do you think that the stress or reality of planning a wedding had anything to do with the break-up?
I think it was the lack of reality that was the reason for the break-up. I was planning a wedding, a marriage, a life with this man – and he was interested in other things.
In hindsight, do you think at any point you were in denial about cancelling the wedding?
Absolutely! I loved this man so much and was so invested in our life together that when it came time to call the wedding off officially I just couldn’t do it. I made him call the venue and cancel the booking. And when he sent me the confirmation I was devastated.
How many months before the wedding did you call it off?
It’s was about 12 months before the booking date.
In the early stages of cancelling the wedding, was there anything that truly helped you process?
No. I’m not sure there really is anything that helps with that kind of pain. My family and friends were a lifeline, but even they didn’t help lessen what I was feeling. My whole world had been turned upside down and I couldn’t see anything past the pain. It wasn’t even time that healed – in fact, it seemed to get worse every day. I spent a good couple of years quite depressed. And I probably would have stayed that way had I not gotten so horribly irritated with myself and made the decision to rebuild myself.
How did you tell people that the wedding was cancelled? Did you feel pressured to make an ‘official’ announcement?
Yes, I did feel pressure to make it official, but I couldn’t. I was just too embarrassed and maybe more than a bit humiliated – I didn’t want to talk about what had happened so I kind of just let word of mouth spread the news. I only talked about it, and then only a much as I absolutely had to, if I was asked directly. There were a handful of people with whom I would openly discuss the break-up.
Are you able to share some advice that you wish someone had shared with you when things were at its worst?
You will see the light again – there is an end to the darkness, but ONLY if that’s what you want. I spent so much time waiting for him to come back that I didn’t really focus on healing. Initially, you won’t be able to concentrate on anything but the pain, and that is okay – take the time you need to feel the loss. But don’t set up shop! Once you have felt, put it to rest. Then force yourself to focus on what’s next. And trust me, in the beginning, you will have to force yourself.
The pain will start feeling normal, but you have to figure out where you want to be and then push yourself every day to focus on that. Then put one foot in front of the other and move forward. Eventually, you will start enjoying the new adventure. You won’t know exactly how, or when it changed, but you will be out of the darkness and back in the light. You have to work for it though…that has to be the goal.
Is there a particular approach/comment/suggestion that people made that really was the opposite of helpful. Something you wished people would stop saying or doing?
“Time heals all wounds” blagh!!! NO! Time heals nothing. I kept waiting to feel better. I kept waiting for time to heal me so that I could wake up and be happy again like everyone else. “Time” is not going to heal a damn thing sweetheart. Only YOU can heal yourself over “time”.
Also, the best way to get over someone is to find someone else. Ummm, no – at this point I hated all men – it was more harmful trying to force myself to date.
The only thing that is going to help you is YOU! You need to focus on where you want to be and then put one foot in front of the other and move forward. Friends and family can be there to support you and help you along the way, but ultimately it’s all on you.
Can you give some advice to friends and family who might need to support someone they love in the same situation? What helps, what doesn’t?
Just be there. Take the mood swings, the good days and the bad and just be there. At the end of the day, there really isn’t anything you can do, but it really does help knowing someone is there.
If possible, could you pinpoint the most frustrating part of cancelling a wedding? Focusing on logistics and not emotions.
The logistics themselves are the most frustrating. So much effort and time that goes into planning a wedding, there is that much time and effort that goes into calling suppliers, pushing for deposits to be paid back, informing people that the wedding will no longer be taking place, etc.
Inevitably, the day that would have been your wedding day would have come around. How did you cope?
It was a very hard day for me. I’m not sure I did “cope” exactly, but I did wake up the next day and it was over.
Do you have any regrets about cancelling the wedding?
No. It needed to be done.
Do you regret accepting the marriage proposal?
This is not a straightforward answer. I suppose in a lot of ways I could say I regret the whole relationship not just getting engaged. But the truth is if I hadn’t gone through all of it, the good and the bad, I would not be the person I am today or have the blessing I now have, my daughter. Would I want to go through it all again? Or even have him back in my life after everything? No. But everything happens for a reason and I’m better off for the experiences I have gone through, no matter how good or bad.
I have to ask, what did you do with the ring?
I gave it back to him.
Lastly, would you consider getting married again?
Yes, maybe someday.
When I first read Amica’s responses, I was in tears. As a friend, reading about your friends’ heartbreak is well, heartbreaking. But also because she inspired me so.damn.much. I have always known that Amica is one of the strongest people I have ever met. But now, I have proof.