RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
And now, this week's installment of For The Record.
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MARTIN: Most weddings go off without a hitch, happy couples pledging to love one another for better or for worse in front of their nearest and dearest. But for a small group, they never make it to those. And calling it off has become a reliable plot twist.
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JENNA FISCHER: (As Pam Beasley) Yeah, I didn't go through with the wedding.
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UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) She's turning, and - oh, she's running.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character)Where's she going?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character)Block the doors.
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REESE WITHERSPOON: (As Melanie Smooter) You don't want to marry me.
PATRICK DEMPSEY: (As Andrew Hennings) I don't?
MARTIN: For The Record today, three different real life stories about calling it quits before walking down the aisle.
NICKI VARGAS: We met here in New York City. I was an intern. And it was supposed to be just a summer fling.
JONATHAN BRILL: So we kind of grew up in the same area, went to the same church, had the same friends.
STELLA GRIZONT: He was a totally nice guy. There was nothing I could say that was wrong. And so I just figured, you know - why not?
MARTIN: This is Nicki Vargas, Jonathan Brill and Stella Grizont. Stella says it all seemed perfect on paper.
GRIZONT: He had so many of the things I had on my list. You know, he seemed like a kind man, cute, really loved his family, worked really hard. And so all those things seemed right.
MARTIN: It all seemed right for Nicki Vargas and her boyfriend, too. They moved in together pretty quick. And Jonathan Brill said his relationship felt easy. After four years of dating, they got engaged because it just seemed like the thing to do.
How did you propose?
BRILL: Good question.
MARTIN: What? Jonathan, you don't remember?
BRILL: I know, I know.
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MARTIN: So there they are, all three couples - in love, then engaged, blissfully unaware that things were going to unravel. For Stella, that unraveling began when her fiance came home one day and announced that he was buying them a house.
GRIZONT: And I was, like, whoa. I mean we haven't even talked about this, and I have never seen the house. I knew nothing about it. I wouldn't be able to commute to my job. And then his family was supposed to move in with us, too. And I was just, like, whoa. That was - I just - I mean, on several levels, whoa. And I realized that, you know, I - this is just not how I want to be in partnership with someone.
MARTIN: Nicki's unraveling happened just a couple of weeks out from her wedding. Her fiance was on his bachelor party weekend with friends. She packed a backpack and went to South America by herself. While she was hiking in the jungle, she had an epiphany.
VARGAS: I didn't want to get married. It was the first time I'd said it out loud. Why didn't I want to get married? And this was the doozy. And the answer was I'm not in love. And that's like a bomb going off in the jungle. I mean, you can't get past that.
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MARTIN: This was a big deal because, actually, Nicki had already postponed this wedding one time before, months ago, when the logistics felt overwhelming. Now she knew another postponement was not the answer. Stella, too, remembers the moment it all came crashing down.
GRIZONT: There was one day where I was just laying on the bed. And, you know, I got a call from my aunt. And she's like, how are you? And I just started crying. I was just - like, I'm even getting emotional now thinking about that moment. And I just - it sucked. I wasn't happy at all. And she just said, you know (sobbing), you don't have to do this. And that was - it was almost like that was the permission I needed.
MARTIN: She wasn't in love, and she didn't want to get married, at least not to the man she was engaged to. In some ways, Jonathan says, acknowledging for himself that he didn't want to go through with the wedding was the easy part.
Do you remember telling your family?
BRILL: Oh, yeah. That was difficult. I remember. When you have a relationship that ends that way, it's not ending with one person. I mean, you're breaking up with her family. And so, like, I remember having to take her little brother out and spend time explaining it to him.
MARTIN: And of course, after the emotional drama of the breakup, there's the dismantling of the wedding industrial complex.
VARGAS: We called off the wedding.
BRILL: Halfway through the engagement is when we called it off.
GRIZONT: We were basically less than, I think, 30 days out.
VARGAS: A week and a half before the actual wedding date.
GRIZONT: Our venue was booked. The dress was bought. Guests had their flights.
BRILL: I remember having to chase down the deposits afterward.
VARGAS: And so we emailed over a hundred people. We sent apology notes.
MARTIN: After all the gifts have been returned and the rings given back, there is the inevitable soul-searching. Stella realized that her fiance had really been a rebound from another failed relationship.
GRIZONT: I needed to kind of go through that because the big kind of thing that I was missing was the insight, which I didn't realize. It was buried really, really, really deep - was - I guess I was carrying this belief that I needed a man to make me happy and feel complete.
MARTIN: Jonathan says he was just utterly unprepared.
BRILL: I think, just, nobody really tells you the thing that the person that you end up making a commitment to is going to have the most impact on the rest of your life. And there's a skill to figuring out who you are and what's important and how to choose that person.
MARTIN: Stella and Jonathan are now both in happy marriages, eventually finding the people they wanted to take the plunge with. Nicki, too, is in a happy relationship. - no engagement yet, though.
Can you imagine having a wedding?
VARGAS: (Laughter) I mean, I don't know if I can imagine it so much as I don't know if anybody would have come at this point.
VARGAS: I'm like the girl who cried wolf, except I'm the girl who cried wedding (laughter).
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MARTIN: For The Record today, we heard from Nicki Vargas, Jonathan Brill and Stella Grizont.
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