Want To Be A Runaway Bride? Do it the Fun Way!
Wedding Goddess Wisdom
If ever there was a case for eloping to Las Vegas, it was the unfortunate wedding fiasco that dominated the headlines this time last year – The Runaway Bride.
Remember the woman who became the poster child for bridal stress and who gave the world a much needed glimpse into the darker side of getting hitched?
And you thought your journey to the altar has been filled with drama! As the story unraveled we learned that she had unraveled too.
She even stopped in Las Vegas, but not for a good time. On the night she would have been celebrating her rehearsal dinner with her 14 bridesmaids and loving friends and family by her side, she was having pizza alone.
Although she said she was running from “certain fears” and not cold feet, she fessed-up that she couldn’t face the huge and lavish hometown affair, complete with 600 guests and 28 attendants. She cut her hair to disguise herself, hopped on a bus and headed west to escape her wedding.
Who doesn’t remember the massive search … the sobbing fiancé … the heartbroken relatives parading across TV news as the world waited and wondered … what happened to Jennifer Wilbanks, then 32, who disappeared four days before her April 30, 2005 wedding.
People feared the worse, as Jennifer quietly rode far as she could, away from the big day she had dreamed of and planned for.
Tired and financially tapped out, she ended up in New Mexico, at a 7-Eleven, where she called her family and her honey with concocted tale abduction. Local police got involved. She said she had no idea she had caused such a stir.
Next thing you know, authorities are traipsing her through an airport back to Duluth, Georgia, and she is sporting a red, white, blue and yellow stripped towel over her head. You just couldn’t help but think … gee, this just isn't right ... she was supposed to be wearing a wedding veil, not this thing.
It was sad … and very odd … but you know what … she did all brides a favor by throwing a spotlight on something that we’d yet to truly own up to in today's wedding culture: Brides sometimes become the victim of their own wedding experience.
It is possible to get so deep into the planning and fanfare that they do not take time to take stock of their true feelings and fears. We are so focused on weddings as a fantasy come true that we forget that a wedding can also feel like a crisis to a bride. Not just because of all the work, time, energy and emotion of planning … but because of what it means. The wedding is the threshold into the new life of becoming a wife, partner, and possibly a parent some day. Yikes. That in it self can make some brides want to bolt.
Last year, the Associated Press said Jenifer took to the road because she was afraid she would not be "the perfect wife." While we still don't know the whole story or what really made her run, in one mad dash from the altar, Jennifer Wilbanks showed us all that big weddings are not always as pretty as they seem on the outside … and that brides need help sorting through the stress and confusion.
So on this, the anniversary week of the return of the Runaway Bride, it is important to acknowledge that fear is a natural part of the experience. Excessive fear should be addressed with people who can help. You have to be honest with yourself if you have so many reservations that you want to high-tail it out of town … without your fiancé.
To this day, the Runaway Bride and her stand-by-her-side groom have not yet tied the knot. I hope that if they decide to wed, they will just run off to Vegas, together, and let Elvis give them a proper wedding.
I have to say, last year, when I heard she’d been in Las Vegas, I thought – why didn’t you just call your fiancé and let him meet you there and just get married without entourage? That way, she could have at least kept the wedding gifts.
© 2006, Reverend Laurie Sue Brockway
Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway is an interfaith and non-denominational wedding officiant. She creates unique ceremonies for couples of all backgrounds and faiths, and is also widely recognized as a bridal stress expert. She is author of WEDDING GODDESS: A Divine Guide To Transforming Wedding Stress into Wedding Bliss (Perigee Books, May 2005). Visit Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway at WeddingGoddess.com.