Anyone who knows me well already knows this story, but a long time ago I was a runaway groom.
Exactly 10 years ago, on June 26, 2004, I was supposed to get married. My fiancee and I had been planning the wedding for months, getting all the details sorted out. We were to get married at Parkwood, in the sunken garden where so many other weddings had taken place before us.
Afterwards, dinner and a reception were supposed to happen at a nearby golf course banquet hall. We had the flowers, the DJ, the photographer, the limo, people coming from out of town… everything was all ready for the big day. Except me.
I didn’t go to the wedding.
Well, it’s not like I just didn’t show up. I did let the bride-to-be know ahead of time, but only a few hours before the wedding was supposed to take place. Better than just not showing up I suppose, but definitely not the best way to handle the situation. It’s not like I went to the wedding and then ran away once we were at the altar, but it obviously would have been much better to take care of things before the actual wedding day.
However, I was a very different person back then. I lacked self-confidence. I was pressured into proposing, and felt trapped. Deep down, I knew I didn’t want to marry this girl, but I kept trying to convince myself it was the right thing to do. So I went along with everything, despite that nagging feeling in the back of my mind telling me something wasn’t right.
It’s not too late until you say “I do”
The day of the wedding, I woke up early at my parents house and paced around the kitchen for a while. My brother Mike came down and immediately knew something was up. He flat-out asked me if I wanted to get married, and I told him I didn’t, or I wasn’t sure, or something along those lines.
We took off to my uncle Rick’s place, since he was a rational and impartial person who understood my situation. He had been in a bad marriage before, and when I thought of my future, I saw myself in a similar place.
I was clearly freaking out. It was the morning of my wedding day, and I didn’t want to get married. But it was too late to do anything at that point, I thought. Everybody was already getting ready to go and everything was already set up for my wedding. My uncle was calm about the whole situation and basically told me “it’s not too late until you say I do.”
He told me not to worry about what everyone would think, not to worry about the money and the planning and everything else. The bottom line was: It’s my life, and if getting married isn’t the right thing to do, then don’t do it.
Not so great advice
My brother Chris offered an interesting recommendation. He basically told me “Just get married. You can always get divorced later if things don’t work out.” While I appreciated the advice, I’m glad I didn’t follow it.
Obviously I felt and still feel bad about what I did. It wasn’t my intention to break my fiancee’s heart or embarrass her in front of her family and friends. However, behind the scenes things weren’t great between us, and I don’t think it was a complete surprise to her when I broke the news.
I also feel bad for putting my parents, family and friends through all of the drama. My dad had to stand up in front of everyone at the ceremony and tell them the wedding wasn’t going to happen, which I’m sure wasn’t easy. However, since the dinner and hall were already paid for, a bunch of people still decided to go eat, drink, and party. Many people later told me it was one of the best and most fun “weddings” they had ever been to, except the groom didn’t show up.
I know I disappointed a lot of people, but almost everyone supported me in my decision. They didn’t necessarily agree with how I dealt with things, but they supported me nonetheless. For that, I am very thankful and appreciative.
In the end, I lost a bunch of money, a few friends and a fiancee… But I regained my freedom and learned a lot about myself in the process.
For those wondering, my ex-fiancee and I no longer talk. She has since moved on and is now married with kids and as far as I know (and hope) she is living a happy life.
Cutting the cord
My advice to anyone in a relationship they aren’t 100% committed to is this: get out. And get out early. Don’t drag things out and hope you’ll change your mind. Because you most likely won’t. Life is too short to waste time in a relationship you don’t believe in. If something doesn’t feel right, either sort things out, or get out. Don’t go through the motions and wait until the last minute to make a move. It’s hard to cut the cord, but sometimes it’s the right thing to do. And the sooner you do it, the better.
A lot of people think I’m anti-marriage. That is not true at all. I fully believe in the idea of spending your life with someone you love and committing to someone through marriage. I just think a lot of people get married for the wrong reasons, or feel obligated to, or just give in to pressure and think they have to. Getting married is a big deal, and should be treated as such.
The next time I propose to someone, I’m going to be 110% sure it’s the right thing to do. I’ll be fully committed to the woman in my life, and I definitely would never again put anyone through the turmoil and stress like I did back in 2004.
It’s hard to believe 10 years have passed since that crazy day. A lot has changed in my life, and I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. I feel like a completely different person. Despite wishing I had done things slightly differently, I am still proud of my decision, and the fact that I had the courage and support to avoid doing something I knew wasn’t right.
Thank you to everyone that stood by me during that difficult time. I couldn’t have done it without you.