The hall was gloriously decorated with colourful, sweet-smelling flowers and alight with spotlighting and grandiose chandeliers. Gold and purple drapes and ribbons were beautifully spread around the grand space, and lined the ivory chiavari chairs according to the royal theme the Bride had chosen. It was to be the Wedding of all weddings, as the Creative Director of the most popular fashion house in California, Charme, marrying her celebrity groom, star Athlete Seth Greenwood, was no small affair.
Beatrice Williams, the Bride, was also the only child to her parents, multi-millionaires and business tycoons, George and Fidelis Williams. The parents of the Bride had hired the premium wedding planner, Zarreth, to organize all aspects of the Wedding, and no expense was to be spared. Both families had invited their noble, rich and famous friends, business acquaintances and near and distant relatives for the destination wedding in Miami.
As she stood before the Minister of the Marriage Ceremony, standing next to the man she would be spending the rest of her life with, Beatrice wondered about the decision she was about to make. It was just three months ago that she had been surprised by Seth's elaborate proposal for marriage, during a visit to his family home, and accepted with only a brief moment of hesitation. They had been dating for a little over six months before he popped the question, and she always knew that if he were to ask, her answer would be yes.
So why the hesitation? At the time, she had dismissed it as just nerves. After all, getting married is a big deal, and she really hadn't known Seth for that long. They had met a year ago, and he'd chosen the anniversary of the day they met to propose, which she found very romantic. She loved that about him, how he always seemed so thoughtful.
The day they had met, he'd also jokingly asked her to marry him. She had smiled and giggled. They were instant friends, but he always wanted more. She eventually gave up the hard-to-get game after five months and decided to go out with him on a real first date. He was the most charming and romantic man she'd ever known, and made her feel like a queen. She had thought to herself then that she could see herself with him forever.
The relationship quickly blossomed and she fell head over heels for him. As she was a Christian, she strove to keep their courtship chaste, and told him of her desire to abstain from sex before marriage. To her joy and amazement, he didn't resist her. Instead, he said, "I know you'll be mine eventually, I will gladly wait for you." That was the moment she knew without a doubt that if he ever asked, she would say "yes"!
As she stood before Seth, in her glamorous lace wedding gown, she remembered all the reasons she had fallen in love with him... However, she couldn't shake off the doubts that he wasn't the one. She first got that strange feeling about four months into their relationship. She'd found out that he'd kept a secret from her...and that shocked her to the core, as she had believed he was as open to her as she'd been to him.
From that day on, she had wondered to herself if she could really trust him, and if he was truly all that he said he was. But he'd convinced her that he was a changed man... and really, nobody is perfect. She forgave him and moved on. However, she began to notice some inconsistencies in his character. Still, the idea that no one is perfect kept her from judging him too harshly and concentrating more on his good traits, of which he had many!
"Are you OK?" Seth broke into her thoughts. He was wearing a black tuxedo with gold trim, and looked like a prince!
She smiled and nodded. "Just thankful", she breathed a sigh. He gave her his dashingly handsome smile that always filled her stomach with butterflies. But she also noticed that her heart was in a knot. Something wasn't right. What was it? Was it cold feet?
"I can't have cold feet now", she thought to herself. "What will I tell everyone?" She looked around at the event hall filled with family and guests in their best attire and swallowed hard. "I can't turn back now. I can't disappoint them. I can't do this to Seth!!! I love him", she soothed her mind and tried to calm down her nerves by meditating on the last point. I love him.
"Dearly Beloved," the Minister started. "We are gathered here today to witness the..."
Beatrice wasn't listening. The voice of doubt was louder now. "You can't marry him." "Do not ignore the signs". "What signs?" Beatrice asked her inner voice.
Then she remembered. After their engagement, Seth was not the same considerate man she'd known. She noticed that he had become more controlling, yet more secretive. He also tried to bypass their previous agreement to wait, by pushing the boundaries of their intimacy. She felt that he was just being honest about his sexual attraction, and consoled him that their engagement would be short.
There was also the time she'd found him in a compromising position with his best friend from college, Stella 'What's-her-face', who she knew fancied him and was always trying to come between them. Stella even bought him a Valentine's gift, with the message "Best Friends Forever", which she'd found upseting and highly inappropriate. But Seth always assured her that their relationship was purely platonic.
Seth was also very insecure and vain. Being a star Athlete, his image was everything to him. He didn't take kindly to criticism and seemed always to be fishing for compliments. She figured it had something to do with his deeply guarded secret about how he cheated in the past to get into Pro Football. She guessed he still felt undeserving of his success. She'd found out about it from his best man, who wrongly assumed that she knew of his scandalous youthful years. Though Seth had appeased her that his life had changed after coming to Christ, he had now returned to being secretive.
"If anyone knows any reason why these two cannot be joined in holy matrimony, please speak now or forever hold your peace", Beatrice heard the Minister say.
Seth looked around the room confident that the Wedding would not be disturbed. Stella gave him a pining look, which Beatrice didn't miss. She snapped out of her thoughts and muttered "No".
The Minister looked at her and Seth. "Did you say something?" he asked.
Seth looked at her intently, frozen, willing her to deny what she'd said.
Beatrice looked him in the eyes, as she let go of his hands. "I'm sorry, Seth. You don't deserve this. But, I can't marry you!" With that, she ran out of the hall to the gasps of everyone.
It was the hardest decision she had ever made, and she felt it would plague her the rest of her life. Her parents were heartbroken. Mortified even. It was a public disgrace to them, not only to her and Seth, and the newspapers didn't spare adding salt to the injury! She lost the respect of friends, who thought she was a selfish fool, and she continually wondered in secret if they were right.
However, it wasn't long before her deepest fears were confirmed. Eight months from the ceremony, rumours spread about the paternity of Stella Fallaghan's bouncing baby boy being none other than Beatrice's ex-fiance, Seth Greenwood. She didn't need to confirm it. She saw the pictures and she knew. The knot in her heart was gone and she was finally at peace with her decision not to marry Seth.
It can be very hard for women desiring marriage to see the signs that they shouldn't marry their proposed mate, because of the fear of being alone. Even when they do see the signs, or are cautioned not to move forward with the decision, an engagement can feel like an impossible commitment to break, especially when the preparations for a ceremony have all been made, or well on their way to completion. For all the wrong reasons, women who know that they shouldn't say I do still do, and make the most crucial decision of their lives out of pressure.
Take a lesson from Beatrice, who though being in the limelight herself, having spent so much on a grand celebration and who truly loved her betrothed, did not ignore the warnings that she shouldn't marry him. She wasn't to know whether the warnings were valid or not, but she was certainly disturbed for a reason. Though you may never know for sure that you made the right choice, as she later did, listening to God and asking Him to give you wisdom and peace in your decision will help you to make the right one and be at peace with it.
The truth is, however late in the day your realisation comes, a broken engagement is far better than a miserable marriage or a heart-wrenching divorce! Don't make that decision lightly, or in doubt, fear, guilt or pity. After the wedding, everyone will return to their lives, whether or not you said I do... So, do not base your decision to spend the rest of your life with someone on how they or others would feel. Make use of pre-marital counselling, pray and fast, and open your eyes before you say I do.
Photo credit: www.mariogandiaphotography.com