It seems like a trope of solely fiction that one of the wedding party would be left alone at the altar, jilted and scorned by their lover.
But all fiction is based in truth. So it must have happened at some point in history. And Reddit seems to exist to reassure us that these things happen way more often than we were lead to believe it does.
Some people really have been left at the altar.
Here were some of those stories.
Everybody BUT The Bride And GroomGiphy
Does it count if the wedding party was left at the altar?
I didn't know the full story of this one until afterwards, I was merely attending due to family obligation, being a teenager at the time. I already knew something up when my Mom grumpily told me we had to go to a wedding and that it was in two weeks. My Mom is the consummate scheduler - there's no way she wouldn't have told me about a wedding months in advance unless it was also a surprise to her.
It's a Wednesday evening after school mind you, and the ambiance is just weird. No one is talking, no one is happy. The bridesmaids and groomsmen are all in nice-looking but clearly unmatched dresses and suits and looking around nervously. I don't know anyone, but my Mom worked with this girl for a few years and said something about showing up to support 'the bride and no one else.' I didn't really get this at the time, being 12-13. The only thing that really seems off to me is how young everyone in the wedding party looks, like, Vincent Adultman young. I go in with Mom, we sit on the bride's side. And wait.
This is before cell phones were popular, so everyone is just kinda murmuring, until finally someone runs in with a letter addressed to the both sets of parents of the bride and groom. I can't see much but I heard the opening of the envelopes followed by one of the Dad's yelling out 'god DAMN it,' making the pastor/father/preacher of whatever run down c-team off-brand Christian church we were in go bright red. The dad proceeded to tell everyone the wedding was 'off' and to 'go home.'
Found out from Mom much later that the Bride and Groom were being forced to get married after the parents caught them having sex. Now, it's already ridiculous to do this in any situation, but there wasn't even a pregnancy involved, both of these people were 19, and it was the 90's. The bridesmaids were all pulled from bride's sisters/female cousins, and groomsmen were groom's brothers/male cousins. No friends, nothing, just forced matrimony straight up.
Apparently the letter said the effects of "Dear Mom and Dad, screw you from the children you'll never see ever again."
They ran off to a different state together to start over. Last I heard they're in their early 40's now, and actually married with kids, and still haven't spoken to their parents since that day.
No One To Tell Her Story
My great great aunt (before I was born, obviously) was stood up at the altar.
We found out when my mother asked her grandmother to help her make a family tree. So great grandma started listing all of her 12 brothers and sisters, but accidentally named a 13th sister, then gasped, then made my mother swear she'd never tell anyone else in the family.
She was stood up at the altar, and soon after committed suicide. Since the family was extremely religious, she wasn't allowed to be buried in the church cemetery, and her name was erased from the family bible. Her memory was wiped from the face of the earth.
Can't Fix A Broken Jerk
In high school one of my friends, Sheri, got pregnant. It was a sort of shotgun wedding. Her parents found out that she was pregnant because they didn't care about privacy or personal space. I actually found out from my mom when i got home from school one day because Sheri's mom told my mom at the grocery store.
Well, Sheri's parents were Christian and insisted that they get married. So the day of the wedding comes, she's about to walk down the aisle with her dad when the grooms cousin that was also our age comes up and says "Sheri, i gotta say something really important. Can i borrow you for a moment." Of course her dad is angry at the rudeness here, but Sheri goes to talk to him anyway. It turned out that the groom was supposed to be wearing a condom, but took it off at the last second without telling her. He had done this with another girl too, and then both times bragged about it to his friends. Sheri believed it 100%, and given the guys character, it's not surprising. She didn't go back to her dad to walk down the aisle, she just got in her car and left... 20 or so minutes later she called the church and had them put her mom on the phone and told her what happened and that there was no way she would marry him even if it means her parents kick her out of their house.
Officiant here. Definitely have had this happen. It is usually pretty awful, and confusing. And it is, in most situations, (except of course same-sex couples) the groom. I've only ever seen the bride skip out on tv.
The party usually waits 10-15 minutes after the designated start time. Then there's an awkward moment, and usually someone gets a call or text, or is sent to deliver the bad news. This generally results in tears, and statements of, "I knew it!" Some folks shuffle the bride off, and then usually Dad or senior member of the family makes an awkward statement.
If there was a reception with a meal planned, folks are either invited to stay and eat or the food is sent to a shelter.
And that's really about it.
My husband and I weren't actually at this wedding (for mutual acquaintances), but a lot of our other friends knew the couple better and had been invited. Coincidentally, we were getting together that evening with some of the friends who were going to the wedding, and that's who we heard the first-hand account from.
Bride and groom stood up in front of the priest to say vows, and groom hesitated. After an awkward pause, he turned away from the bride he'd been facing, said in a low voice, "I just can't do this. I'm sorry." The best man took him by the arm and led him out. The bride was too stunned to say anything, but then her bridesmaids led her away.
There were some kind of meetings in the back of the church and in the bride's room, and the priest came back and announced that the wedding was being canceled. The bride's father tore a program in half and announced angrily that anyone who wanted to partake of the reception was welcome to, since it was paid for.
Strangely, although the couple never did get married, they actually remained friends. How the bride did it, I'll never know. A little more than a year later, the former groom died of a genetic heart condition while traveling overseas. A couple years after that, the former bride went to a sperm bank and had a child and has raised her as a single parent.
Not For His Own Sake
A distant cousin of mine had a panic attack.
As the bride was approaching I could see his eyes bulging, he was sweating profusely, and when the priest started speaking he begun to shake violently, holding his head down, and then he just walked out. The ceremony did not resume.
He had a history of panic attacks, and it was so sad to watch. He confessed later on (after the divorce 3 months later) that he was just getting married to make his parents happy, and he wasn't sure at all that that's what he wanted
Actually the best. My ex, about 10 years ago. We split, she was fiery. She went to Montreal on a work trip, came back with a fiancee. Him and I grew close, a lot of similarities, and straight up, I was done with her and he was great. Drinking buddy, weed buddy. If see her half often, but never too long.
The wedding rolls around, and I knew inside that she was going to bail. I gave him warning. He legit took the mic and invited everyone to get drunk.
I'm happy to say he met a lady at his own wedding that night. Krista kind of lost her mind when she found out he was good.
She messaged him for a year looking for alimony type payments, but he's a lawyer(now, school then). So no.
Happened to a guy at a company I worked at about 9 years ago. He and his fiance went up to the altar and she had requested a projector to show some of their times together, pictures, etc. He went along with it, only for her to have organised a video of him cheating on her to play instead. Full nudity. She walked away from the altar, refunded his portion of the honeymoon, and went by herself.
Honestly, from what I heard, it was brutal on the guy. The women he cheated on her with was in the audience, too, and was part of the company as his manager. They were both made to resign, as office romances between a manager and their subordinates were not allowed unless the promotion happened while they were seeing each other.
The Worst Luck
From what I know, my great-uncle, so my maternal grandfather's brother, left his designated bride at the altar. The great-uncle, let's call him George, served in WW2 and lived a lavish bachelor style life, were talking high society parties, expensive trips, even a minor scandal or two involved with some married women... It was around 1964, and he was my grandfather's older brother. Great-grandfather was concerned who will run the estate after he's gone, so he decided to take matters in his own hands and find him a wife.
My great-grandmother and her sister were tasked and they found a suitable girl from the right family, let's call her Emma. So Emma and George were introduced at a garden party and my great-grandpa basically told him he's marrying Emma and George was super pissed.
The wedding day came, my grandpa was an usher (this means he escorted his mother and his youngest sister in the church) and he saw everyone looking pristine and perfect, but the groom wasn't anywhere to be seen. George came piss drunk and couldn't stand. When Emma came, he puked right at the priest's feet and left the church, passing right by Emma. He got into his car and that was the last time my grandfather saw him, because he crashed into a tree drunk. Emma later married someone and lived a happy normal life, from what I've heard she wasn't even shaken by George's death.
Grandpa, on the other hand, is still mourning his brother, 50+ years later. Everything fell on him and whenever he retells what happened to George, he tears up.
Ruined By GreedGiphy
I did not experience this one but read it in a newspaper. In India, there's a custom in some states called the dowry system. Bride's father gives cash and expensive gifts to the groom and his parents for marrying his daughter. It started off as voluntary gifts but now people force the brides' side to pay up money. I know. I have four sister-in-laws wed this way. In the society, rebelling against parents or customs is akin to committing social and financial suicide. Still, a courageous girl refused to marry because the groom's father was being too greedy and was asking for more than what her father could afford. When I read it, I cried. I had seen so many families ruined because of this custom.