My Fiancé Dumped Me a Month Before the Wedding, So I Turned It Into a Charity Event

Dana's mom, Karen, dancing with the guests!
Dana’s mom, Karen, dancing with the guests!

The person I thought was the love of my life called off our wedding one month before we were supposed to get married.

I’m trying to think of something funny to say about it, but I’m not quite there yet. I’m making super-gentle jokes, like “I’ll probably be ready to go on Tinder in about 15 years” and “Well, I didn’t faint today, so that’s a score.” Actually, you can’t really call those jokes. They’re basically my small way of showing my family and friends that I still kind of have a personality and I’m probably not going to kill myself.

Even though I’m not really in a jokey mood, I want to tell this story because I’d never heard anything like it. Weddings get cancelled — I get it — but not like this.

I thought my ex and I were happy together. We had known each other for 15 years and been in a serious relationship for the last three of them. We were engaged for a year, and we were going to get married six weeks from when he dumped me.

Invitations were out. Three weeks before he broke up with me, we bought wedding rings. Five days before he broke up with me, we met with our would-be wedding photographer. Three days before he broke up with me, we asked some of his family members to play music at our ceremony. On a Sunday, we opened our reply cards and sipped on champagne while talking about who was going to get the most drunk at our wedding.

That Wednesday, he walked into our apartment and told me we weren’t getting married.

I don’t think there’s anyone in the world who would have said of us, “Yeah, I could have seen that coming.” We were happy. At least, I was happy, and we looked happy on the outside. That’s all I can know.

You’re probably thinking that I’m delusional. I’m not. (I know, I know; that’s exactly what a delusional person would say. But really.) Of course we had issues. Every couple has issues. We argued about stupid things. We had our moments of tension. I also believed we had a beautiful, loving relationship that we were going to honor with marriage and bless with children.

He, obviously, had other plans.

It’s been six weeks since he called off our wedding. We were supposed to get married last Saturday. I’ve been driving myself crazy trying to figure out what happened. But I’ve come to realize that I will never know why a person I loved — and who loved me back — doesn’t want to marry me. All I know is that he doesn’t.

So what’s a girl to do?

Well, you’ve still gotta throw a party.

The day after my ex dropped the bomb that I was a bride-not-to-be, I realized that not only was my heart broken, but I was broke. My family had paid for what was supposed to be a beautiful, fun, 250-person wedding. We were out tens of thousands of nonrefundable dollars. (His family had also paid for a small portion of the wedding — they were out some cash, too.)

I spent the next few days trying to figure out how we were going to manage to not throw a bunch of money down a super-sad drain. (I also spent a fair amount of time crying and drawing in therapeutic coloring books, but that’s neither here nor there.) The venue we’d booked made it clear that just because we were planning to have a wedding that night didn’t mean we were contracted to have a wedding. We could do whatever we wanted with the venue. We’d paid; it was ours for the night. It was also too late to cancel the band; they were ours, too.

I’ve heard of cancelled weddings being turned into birthday parties, anniversary parties, “Yay, I’m Single Now” parties, but I didn’t want any of that. I didn’t have anything to celebrate. Still, I wanted someone to have a good night.

I started to think about who would appreciate a good party. My family and friends and I weren’t exactly in the mood to go wild, but I knew there were all sorts of people in the city who would love a night out.

My parents and I decided to donate the event to an organization in Seattle called Mary’s Place, a homeless shelter in Seattle that focuses on helping women and their children find permanent housing, employment, and hope for the future. (Mary’s Place is rad; if you live in the Seattle area and you’re looking for volunteer or donation opportunities, check out their website.)

Of course, I know that one night of dinner and dancing isn’t going to make a huge difference in these women’s lives. But hey, at least they got to get their hair done, eat some good food, and put on their dancing shoes. The event was my family’s small attempt to turn what’s been an awful situation for us into something positive for other people.

And I’ve gotta say, throwing the party has pushed me into a better state of mind. I don’t know how, exactly, but turning the would-be wedding into an event for women in transition has made me feel a little less desolate. It’s helped distract me from the fact that I’m a jilted bride, that a broken engagement will always be part of my life story. It’s taken me out of my head, which has not been a fun place to be. And as corny as it sounds, it’s made me feel like part of a sisterhood.

My mom attended the event. And between the two of us, she definitely should have been the one to go; she worked incredibly hard to plan the never-gonna-happen wedding, and she worked even harder to transition it into an entirely different event with just over a month left to go. She told me it was just as amazing as we wanted it to be. As soon as the band started playing, the kids rushed out onto the dance floor. My mom said the families had a blast.

And as for me? I didn’t go. If I were a badass, I’d have gone to the event that was supposed to be my wedding and danced my face off with a bunch of awesome women.

But I’m kind of a wimp, so I did the only thing I could think to do on that sad Saturday night: Xanax and chill.

Dana Olsen’s post appeared on xoJane on January 19, 2016. Dana’s generous gift to the families of Mary’s Place was covered locally by KING 5, KIRO 7, KOMO 4, and the Seattle Times.