I was in denial.

When Steve, the man I was dating, showed up with a diamond engagement ring at my job two weeks after I’d met him, I was so blown away by excitement and romance that I said yes. It was so utterly romantic and impulsive, it must have been true love.

Or so I thought.

I didn’t notice the drinking and overlooked the drugs, which he said he didn’t do anymore, and went ahead with plans for a big wedding; it was part of the fantasy of marrying Prince Charming. I got a long, white gown with a train, a bustle and a Basque waist, and asked my sisters and three friends to be bridesmaids.

I spent an awful lot of time getting the details just right. From the elbow-length gloves to the diamante bracelet, I was going to be the perfect bride and everyone would beam as I walked down the aisle of the church, seeing how beautiful and mature I was.

I paid for the catering, the silverware, the dress, the DJ, the cake, the invitations, and all the other details. I tried to keep an eye on the chequebook, but couldn’t help but see how additional money vanished from the account and how charges I wasn’t aware of started to show up on my credit card.

If I asked Steve about it, he always had a reason. “It’s for you, baby,” he said. “I got it for you.”

Several months in, my sister invited me for lunch and tried to tell me that if I married Steve it would be a huge mistake; that there was something deeply wrong with him and I needed to break up with him. Horrified, I pretended I wasn’t hungry; I didn’t feel like eating anymore.

Without benefit of therapy or wiser friends, I went home and told Steve that if he ever drank again, it was over. He duly promised and to my folly, I believed him. I bought a blown-glass ornament of two lovebirds nestled under a clear heart – so fragile, so very lovely atop a cake.

I imagined the cutting of the cake and hoped Steve wouldn’t smash it into my face in front of all my family, friends and boss, and how I wished he were a Navy man so he could cut the cake with a sword.

A few weeks before the wedding, Steve disappeared. He vanished for three days with my new car, finally showing up breezy and buzzing, the way a person who might be using cocaine would be. And when I asked where he’d been, he said he was tracking down a guy who owed him money.

Steve had gone to collect the money and beat the guy up when he couldn’t pay. I sat there aghast, finally realizing, “I can’t marry this guy.”. Then, “I’m getting married in six weeks. The invitations are going out Monday. The bridesmaids have their dresses. I have silverware. I have to marry him.”

I couldn’t tell my parents I had made a mistake. I couldn’t tell my coworkers who’d endured every moment of the wedding planning for 14 months. I couldn’t tell my sisters and friends, who were bracing themselves to parade in their rainbow of finery. I couldn’t marry him, but I couldn’t back out now – it would mean I’d made yet another earth-shatteringly stupid life choice. I didn’t know what to do.

The next day I had lunch with my sister again and told her I was thinking of calling the wedding off. “I’ll tell the family,” she immediately offered. Relief was clear on her face.

That weekend, I threw Steve out and set about cancelling wedding plans. But he didn’t go easily. I awoke a few days later and found him standing over me, insisting on getting into bed with me. After that, I took his name off the apartment lease and changed the locks.

He showed up at three in the morning, high and drunk, and pounded on the door. I wouldn’t let him in. Then he stole my car, and later, showed up with a gun, demanding that I give him his things and that I had cheated him out of a wedding and left him for no good reason.

His parents and sister joined the fray, calling me on the phone and sending me letters, telling me what a bitch I was and how I owed him money or a wedding or a car or a life, something to assuage his humiliation.

I took the bustled, lace-encrusted dress to a consignment shop. I got my deposit back from the caterer and the travel agent. My sisters sent back their dresses. I began to use my new silverware every day.

And then I decided to have an ‘unwedding’ party instead, on the date we had chosen. I ordered a cake with wedding bells and a red circle and slash through them. The bakery didn’t believe that’s what I really wanted.

“I do,” I said. “Put that on the cake.”

The weather was sunny with a blue sky, a nice day for a white wedding. Friends and family came to my barbecue in the local park. We tossed a frisbee and I thanked everyone for coming. We laughed and drank cheap champagne, and celebrated my not marrying the wrong man.

This article has been republished from Your Tango with full permission. You can view the original article here: Real Runaway Bride: Why I Canceled My Wedding At The Last Second

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