The wedding venue and photographer were booked. Bridesmaids had been chosen. A wedding gown had even been picked out. And then Stacey Becker's fiancé told her that he might not be ready to get married. Cue the end of Becker's world as she knew it. The proposal had taken her by surprise, and she definitely didn't expect Brad got cold feet.
After recovering from the initial shock of the breakup, then fighting for the relationship to survive, and finally mourning its end, Becker came to realize that Brad wasn't the one for her. Eventually, she reconnected with a guy from her past who did turn out to be Mr. Right. How'd she do it? Check out her new memoir, Knot the One: Why Getting Dumped Before My Wedding was the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me, for all the juicy details. But first read this condensed interview with Becker, full of five key pieces of advice.
1. Think more about your partner and less about the party
If there's a voice in your head that says something isn't quite right, listen to that voice. A lot of brides get caught up in the inertia of the wedding. Once you get that ring and you announce your engagement, there are so many expectations about planning a party. Understand that engagement is a time to get to know your significant other as much as it is about planning a wedding.
2. Look for red flags
In retrospect it's much easier to see it of course. Brad was in touch with ex-girlfriends. Also, he made it clear that he wanted to move back to California at some point, but it wasn't something we discussed in much detail. When I tried to talk to him about it he wouldn't engage. The biggest red flag was a couple of nights when he told me he was going to dinner with some friends from work. He was unreachable, ended up not coming home until hours later, and he was drunk.
3. Ending an engagement can be a slow process
That period between calling off the wedding and ending the relationship was a really tough time. You don't snap your fingers and suddenly aren't in love with the person anymore. I had to come to the realization on my own. For me, it was seeing firsthand that our relationship was not the same as it used to be. He was not pursuing me or interested in me like when we were first dating. He used to call me 10-15 times a day. Later, I'd be lucky if he called me once a day. Seeing my friends going out on dates and moving on with their lives made me realize I wanted to be moving towards something.
4. Be open-minded when moving on
Some women get caught up in the idea that their perfect person is going to appear before them and there are going to be thunder bolts or electricity. When you're searching for love, you have to be open-minded about what that package will look like. I took advantage of every social event possible to keep myself busy and keep my mind open to new people — volunteer opportunities, networking events, there are also sports leagues in every city. Even for the non-athletic types, there are kickball and ping-pong leagues. Staying busy is how you meet people.
5. Know that you will be happy again
When we ended the engagement, I sat on my bed with all the bridal magazines and honeymoon brochures around me thinking I could never be happy again. I felt so blindsided. When you're in that situation, you have to have faith that it will get better. I don't like to say that everything happens for a reason, because plenty of things happen for no reason at all. But there is somebody better out there, better suited for you.