What One Brave Bride Did to Her Dress When the Wedding Was Called Off

[[opening: This story was originally posted on Offbeat Bride.]]

In March of 2014, Shelby Swink was happily engaged to her college sweetheart and busy planning their wedding. But just five days before she was slated to walk down the aisle, her fiancé decided to call the whole thing off:

I poured my heart and soul into the wedding plans to try and make it the best day it could be. It was going to be a celebration of our love and commitment to each other, so I wanted it to be absolutely amazing. A few weeks before the wedding I had everything planned out to a T and was so excited for our big day.

Five days before the wedding the unexpected happened. My fiancé and I sat down and he told me that he was not in love with me, and did not want to marry me, or spend the rest of his life with me.

Not knowing what to do after receiving that devastating news, Swink started to deal with the heartbreak of cancelling her own wedding. But with the day that was supposed to be her wedding quickly approaching, she knew she needed to find a way to mark the occasion in order to start the healing process. So, with the urging of her friends and family, she decided on a “trash the dress” photo shoot.

My bridesmaids and parents supported the idea 100% and even joined me in their own dresses and suit. My friend Carolyn didn’t even wait for my photographer Elizabeth to say “go” — she just kind of threw the paint on me.

This Bride Trashed Her Dress After She Called Off Her Wedding

The first shot:

called off wedding, left at alter, cancelled wedding

The moment the paint hit my dress… I was free. All the disappointment, all the hurt… I just felt it leave me. I can’t even describe how liberating and cathartic the experience was for me. I let go of all the hurt and became myself again.

called off wedding, left at alter, cancelled wedding

Her bridesmaids really got into trashing her dress.

called off wedding, left at alter, cancelled wedding

V-I-C-T-O-R-Y:

I am a strong woman who believes that everything happens for a reason. We all face adversity in our lives, but what really defines us is how we decide to overcome that adversity. I decided that I will not let this tragedy and heartbreak consume me, and bring me down in life.

The before and after:

called off wedding, left at alter, cancelled wedding

The masterpiece:

called off wedding, left at alter, cancelled wedding

Afterwards, my dress was proudly displayed at The Barefoot Bride in Memphis. Through the beginning of 2015, a portion of each wedding dress purchased while my dress is displayed will go to a Memphis non-profit that helps other women learn how to find their inner strength.

What a positive way to deal with a very difficult situation. Bravo, Shelby!

All photos by Elizabeth Hoard Photography.

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