Bridal Bait And Switch

by admin on March 8, 2011

Several years ago, my cousin, Jane, went to University and had rented a room in a house off campus, and was living there with two twin sisters, Paula and Jessica. Jane quickly became very good friends with these two girls, and through them met their brother Sam. Jane and Sam started going out shortly after meeting, and became inseparable pretty quickly. It was obvious to everyone just how much in love they were, and no one was surprised when Sam proposed to Jane about a year after they started dating. Due to the fact that both of them were still in school with fairly heavy course loads, they decided on a fairly long engagement, and set a wedding date for three years later, about three months after they were both due to graduate.

During this time Sam moved into the house with the three girls, and all of them seemed pretty happy with the arrangement. Jane’s parents were paying for her rent so that she could focus on her schoolwork, while Sam and his sisters all had jobs to pay for their parts. Thus, Jane usually had the house to herself most weekday evenings (this is important later).

The three years passes quickly and with Jane and Sam nearing graduation, the planning for the wedding takes off. Jane asks Paula and Jessica to be her bridesmaids, with them sharing the duties of the Maid of Honor (an idea they both loved). A couple of Sam’s close friends were chosen as groomsmen.

I received my invitation about six months before the wedding, and promptly sent in my RSVP. A note included in the invitation indicated that since Jane and Sam would be in the process of moving during the month leading up to and following the wedding, gifts should just be brought to the reception rather than sent to an address.

On the day of the wedding we showed up to the Church at the appointed time, and sat on the bride’s side of the Church. Although Sam had come to several of our family gatherings, none of our family knew anyone from the his family (other than his sisters, whom I had met a few times since I also went to their University), so conversation was mostly within our own families. Moments before the wedding was to begin, an unfamiliar man took his place at the altar next to the priest, who I assumed must be the best man. I kept looking around to see where Sam was going to come from, but couldn’t find him anywhere.

The music starts and the wedding party makes their way down the aisle. I immediately realize something is very wrong, as Sam still has not appeared, and the two bridesmaids are not Paula and Jessica, but two women I have never seen before. When Jane reaches the altar, the unfamiliar man gives her a quick kiss on the cheek. This is when my family and I realize what is happening in front of us. Jane is not marrying Sam, but some other man entirely.

The Groom’s family has noticed that we are upset, but they don’t seem to know why, and I guess that perhaps they don’t know that Jane was supposed to be marrying Sam that day, and not their relative/friend. None of us are really sure what to do, but we don’t want to interrupt the ceremony by leaving, so we sit through it silently fuming. Afterwards, most of my extended family and I decide to not attend the reception, and kept our gifts to return to the stores (since we were supposed to have brought them to the reception).

A few days later we all receive a mass email from a furious Jane, who rages about being so incredibly embarrassed that only her parents attended the reception, and demands that we all send our gifts to her new address, where she lives with her new husband, John. I simply delete the email and block her address.

Still wanting to know what on earth happened here, I called Paula, who told me the entire story. Apparently about three months before the wedding, Sam found out that Jane had been cheating on him for three years, since about a month after he proposed to her. Obviously furious, he called off the wedding, and broke off the relationship. Paula and Jessica also ended their friendship with Jane.

It turns out that the man who we saw marry Jane was the one she had been cheating on Sam with! Since the wedding had already been completely planned by Jane and her mother with help from the twins over the course of the long engagement, with non-refundable deposits, Jane and John decided that they might as well keep the wedding and have the two of them get married instead of Jane and Sam!

Paula also found out through a mutual friend that John had known about Jane and Sam’s relationship the entire time, and that they had planned on continuing the affair after Jane had married Sam.

My entire extended family was so angry about this whole thing that we have cut ties with Jane and her parents. I can’t believe that Jane not only had the audacity to not tell anyone she was marrying a completely different man than the one we all knew and liked, but that she also demanded we send the gifts that had been intended for her and Sam. The only silving lining to this story, in my view, is that Sam found out about the affair before the wedding, and not after.

How many readers would conclude that the OP and her family’s cutting off of Jane, her new husband and her parents was passive aggressive? On the contrary, we discourage deceit, selfishness and inappropriate behavior through what Miss Manners describes as “the simple exercise of social disapproval and exclusion.”

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