You want everything to be perfect for your wedding day: the dress, the cake, even the in-laws. Some of us spend our entire lives dreaming of the moment we get to say “I do.” So what do you do when your would-be spouse ends up saying “I don’t?”
Being left at the altar is like ordering a luscious ice cream cone, three scoops tall, only to drop it face-first on the sweltering sidewalk right before you take your first lick. But worse. The point is, there isn’t a word for this level of disappointment and heartbreak. All we can do is stare in horror at stories like the ones we’re about to share.
These all come from Reddit, that great fount of schadenfreude; we’ve edited them for grammar and readability.
Give this groom a failing grade.
“My entire fourth grade class was in attendance at our teacher’s wedding where she was left at the altar,” wrote jurassic_snark.
“The whole situation was ugly. My teacher was the bride and was about 3/4 down the aisle when the groom decided he couldn’t do it. He walked off to the side, and at first, my teacher and her father didn’t notice and kept walking, smiling radiantly.”
“There was about a minute of really solid confusion (Last-minute cold feet? Bathroom emergency?) before everyone realized what was going on. My teacher was whisked out of the church and an announcement was made that there was not going to be a wedding. This happened the second or third week of June; she didn’t come back for the last week of school.”
There’s no need to cancel the party, we guess?
“I got left at the altar,” wrote katrilli. “He had spent the previous day spending a lot of time with his ex instead of helping me set up. I yelled at him about it because he was late and hadn’t helped at all.”
“He said he didn’t want to get married because spending time with his ex made him realize I wasn’t as fun as she was…[I] kicked him out and still had the party. I told him to use that time to go home and pack up all his s***. He did.”
When you stand someone up at the altar, you may as well hightail it to Vegas.
“A buddy of mine did this, and we were his accomplices,” wrote DarkOmen597. “Holy f***, I can’t believe this happened 12 years ago.”
“Anyway, a buddy of ours was going to marry this girl he had known for a few years. He was expressing doubt but racked it up to being nervous about marriage.”
“The night before he broke down crying and thought he was making a mistake. We offered support and told him it would be okay. We said that if he didn’t want to do it, he didn’t have to, but we encouraged him to go through with it.”
“[So it’s the] day of the wedding and everything is happening. The wedding has started, and he is at the altar waiting. I don’t know about other religions, but Mexican Catholic weddings have this moment before the bride comes out where it’s quiet with anticipation and everything is just waiting.”
“My buddy is sweating like a madman. My other friends and I notice and think he is about to pass out. Then it happens. The groom starts rocking back and forth. He looks like he is about to faint, and he slowly starts side shuffling.”
“My buddies look at each other and just know what is about to happen. The groom turns to his right and starts heading to the side door. Some people in the church notice and there is a gasp.”
“He beelines to the door and goes outside. Me and my buddies follow him. At this point, I just thought he needed air. Nope. He heads straight towards the sports car he had rented. We yell at him, and he yells at us to get in, and we do.”
“He turns the car on and starts making his way out of the parking lot as the people in the church start to come out and yell. He takes off! We are yelling and screaming in the car, and he has this dead serious look on his face.”
“We end up in Vegas for the next few days. His phone is blowing up but he never answers it.”
“The dude ends up joining the military and leaves to bootcamp just two weeks after all of that happened. He stayed with us couch surfing for two weeks and disappeared from his bride, her family, and even his.”
“Last I heard of him, he had served multiple tours overseas and was part of a recon unit. Haven’t heard anything else from him for a few years now. None of us have, actually. The bride was devastated of course…but last I heard, she got married for reals this time and is very happy in her new relationship.”
Sometimes you can see these things coming.
“A guy I knew did this,” wrote trjones1. “He was a nice, laidback guy marrying a toxic person. I can’t get into the details because I didn’t know him too well, but apparently his friends had been telling him to break it off from the beginning.”
“They had a final intervention for him the morning of the wedding and they finally convinced him to just leave. He showed up at this festival I was at during what was supposed to be his wedding. I saw him and said, ‘Hey man, aren’t you getting married today?’ and he had this kind of far away look and said, ‘Yeah, that’s not happening anymore.’”
Other times, it seems to come out of nowhere.
“My sister was left at the altar by my best mate, and I was best man,” wrote Thrownitawayday. “He met my sister through me, and they went out with each for two years and were engaged for a year before the big day.”
“We’re in the church, at the front, waiting for the bride with about 15 minutes to go. He says he needs the toilet and walks to the back of the church. A minute or so later, it hits me that the toilets aren’t at the back of the church and I start to worry, so go looking for him. He’s not in the toilets, not around the church, nowhere to be found.”
“My best mate had legged it. We didn’t see or hear from him three days, his own family for two days, and by then, he was in Europe somewhere ‘staying with a friend,’ where he’s been ever since, three years now. He’s never made any effort to explain, even to my sister.”
Many couples don’t even make it to the altar.
“[I] didn’t technically leave him at the altar, but 10 days before the wedding I found out he was sleeping with someone else,” wrote eileen8667.
“[It] took me two days to decide not to get married. Then over the next three weeks, I discovered he … had been seeing other people for the entire nine years we were together. [I] got reeeeeaaal close to being stuck in that nightmare. Thankful every day that I didn’t go through with it.”
Here’s the voice of the one who did the leaving.
“I left a man at the altar,” wrote Fluffledoodle.
“I was in my dress and getting ready to go to the chapel when I realized I couldn’t. I froze. I didn’t love him as much as I craved the safety and security that being married would bring. I was fairly recently divorced and very young and scared. He eventually found a lovely woman, and they are very happy together. I don’t think either of us would have had that with each other.”
And here’s a third-party story.
“This is going to sound like hearsay, but I met a girl who was left by her fiance the day of her wedding,” wrote dripless_cactus. “He chose this time to inform her that actually, he was already married and had a family…”
“Obviously he was an extremely toxic person, possibly a psychopath, definitely a narcissist. She was devastated as you can imagine, but it is good that he saved her the humiliation of going through the wedding and a lifetime of misery.”
“I was dealing with my own narcissistic psychopath, so this was her I-got-through-it story.”
If at first you don’t succeed…
“My uncle panicked and fled his wedding before the ceremony,” wrote RougeOne. “He made it a couple states away, hid from her, and eventually patched things up with his bride-to-be. They scheduled a new wedding, at which point basically the whole cycle repeated itself.”
“On the third wedding, they actually got married, and over the next year had a kid and then split up for good. He still hangs around his former in-laws and hates her second husband (her husband of like 20-plus years now).”
Check out the officiant’s perspective; it’s painful.
“My pastor once officiated a wedding,” wrote iRedditWhilePooping. “He had done all the premarital counseling for the couple, they seemed good to go and fine. Got to the altar, he did his opening prayer and welcome. He gets to the part when he says, ‘Do you take this woman to be your wife?’ and the guy looked at her, back and him, and said ‘No.’”
“[The] pastor laughed a little and repeated the question thinking he misunderstood, but the guy stopped him and said, ‘No, I don’t.’”
“He took the groom aside to a back room, where the guy essentially said that he couldn’t do it, that the bride and her mother had manipulated the whole wedding and he had been too chicken to stand up to her before, but that he couldn’t throw his life away.”
“They brought in both families and had a very real conversation, and then the pastor had to go back out and explain to the very uncomfortable congregation that there would be no wedding today, that the guests could help themselves to some refreshments, but that the rest of the evening’s events were canceled.”
You’ll want to give this storyteller a hug.
“This actually happened to me,” wrote theonlyjadegreen. “The guy I was supposed to marry just didn’t show up at all. He called all of his friends and family on his side and told them not to bother showing up because he wouldn’t be there.”
“We waited around till about an hour after the wedding started, and finally got a text message saying he wasn’t coming. So I got to look like a jerk by telling my family, ‘Oh, sorry, there won’t be a wedding today.’”
“It was mortifying. And to top things off, my son was asking me why his daddy didn’t want to marry mommy. Very hard to explain that to a 2-year-old.”
Being left hanging at the altar can be pretty crushing, obviously.
“Another classic ‘not me but’ comment, but I think it’s relevant,” wrote Coderbuddy. “My aunt was left at the altar her husband just basically never showed up for the wedding. They had been dating for almost two years and lived together for one of them. He was the one who suggested getting married.”
“She described the experience almost like having a heart attack. One if the happiest days of her life turned into her worst nightmare. She has dealt with abandonment issues for years and has seen many therapists.”
“Her biggest problem now is she doesn’t believe anyone actually loves her. She doesn’t think she’s pretty [or] nice, and rarely speaks. She used to be one of the most outgoing people I know. I still love her, but this was three years ago and I’m losing hope fast.”
“TL;DR: Don’t leave anyone at the altar please.”
Some broken-vow mysteries are never solved.
“I was a wedding coordinator at a Catholic church in Manhattan,” wrote Thegodd***patman. “Our church was booked for a large wedding party from Connecticut. They told us to expect at least 500 people as the bride and the groom came from large Italian families.”
“When the day of their wedding came, the only people who showed up were members of the groom’s side of the family. It was odd because we had seen the bride the night before at the wedding rehearsal and everything seemed fine. But the next day, the bride and her party were no-shows.”
“The groom tried his best to keep his composure. In an effort to track down the bride, the groom had his friends and family and myself call anyone who might have a clue as to where she went. Minutes passed, and eventually, hours passed.”
“The groom begged me to let the current party stay in hopes that his bride to be would show up. I let his party stay an extra 15 minutes before I had to kick them all out and prepare for the next wedding that afternoon. We never learned of what happened to the bride. Her absence remains a mystery today.”
Here’s a lesson in how not to spend the night before your wedding.
“I was at the wedding for one of my sisters’ friends, who was the bride,” wrote a Reddit user whose account has been deleted. “The bride never showed up at the wedding, and no one could find her. After several hours, the groom and his family all went home.”
“[It] turned out the bride went for a wild night of partying and slept with some guy she met at a club. She was passed out … at his place all day long before she came around and realized she missed her own wedding.”
“She was out with a friend that did nothing to stop her from getting wasted and screwing around (I think her friend let her get carried away because she thought the bride wouldn’t have been a good wife and figured it was the easiest way to get the couple to split up).”
“The father of the bride was mad as hell about the expense of the wedding that came out of his pocket. The groom has since moved on with his own life. Discovering the woman he was going to marry had cheated on him the night before their wedding made him break it off.”
Good call, we’ll wager.
“He hasn’t gotten married, but I hear he’s dating someone and it looks serious enough they may get married soon. The bride has been having problems trying to get the respect of her family back after that stunt. She once tried to talk to me when I was single to see if we could go out. I told her flat out I had no interest in dating a woman who cheats like she does. We’ve not spoken since, much to my relief.”
Imagine being ghosted at the altar.
“I used to play the harp in weddings,” wrote IThinkImDumb. “In Chicago, I was playing a wedding that was in a hotel event room (as opposed to a church) where a judge was officiating. It was a small wedding, maybe 20-30 guests, and the groom didn’t show up. The bride had gotten there earlier with her bridal party, and apparently the groom was having an episode of PTSD or something.”
Apparently, this is a thing. This isn’t the only story of a bride or groom who simply decides not to show up on the day of the wedding.
“Two of my fiancé’s friends were getting married,” wrote Kristine6475. “The groom had been struggling for a few years deciding whether to get married and have a family or join a priory and eventually become a priest. He made his decision the morning of the wedding and just didn’t show up.”
This story makes being ghosted sound like the better option.
“My sister was left at the altar on her wedding,” wrote DeineBlaueAugen. “I was about 13, her maid of honor. He just said ‘No’ and walked out when asked if he would take her to be his wife.”
“It was horrible after. He joined the army and got married like six months later, and my sister moved back in with us. She stayed in my room and would cry herself to sleep every night for months.”
“I can’t really blame him. My sister is terrible with money and had piles of debt. It’s been 10 years, and she’s now married to a guy we all really love, but we think she made herself get pregnant recently (he doesn’t want kids), and now their marriage (not even after a year) is struggling super badly.”
“My fiancé and I love my [brother-in-law], and they get along like long lost twins. He also makes all the money, so it’ll be interesting to see how this s*** turns out.”
Before you get to the altar, you’d better be sure.
“I left my ex-fiancé a month before the wedding,” wrote xavier_grayson. “Backstory: I never actually proposed to her, she more or less did it to me. We were in a mall and she wanted to go to a jewelry store to look at engagement rings. I wasn’t expecting to walk out of there with one but we did. The salesperson even took a ‘just engaged’ Polaroid.”
“She became more and more controlling, and I couldn’t take it anymore. After I left her, her friend texted me on the day of the supposed ceremony telling me the cake was delicious. My ex somehow managed to break into my email and asked me who a girl was in an email I received AFTER I left her. I could understand her reasoning if it was before, but it wasn’t. She also texted me a while after I left and told me she missed her period. An hour later, I got another text that said, ‘Never mind.’”
“I’m pretty sure I dodged a bullet by leaving.”
That’s about the best you can hope for in a failed wedding, we guess.