Facing Life Head On
Sometimes life throws you curveballs. Life threw 23-year-old Shelby Swink a pretty nasty curveball when her fiance dumped her a week before the wedding. That's right…I said a week before her wedding. Personally, I would have probably handled this particular curveball by crying buckets while simultaneously shoveling a pint of ice cream into my mouth. But what Shelby did was WAY better, and even benefited charity!
The couple met at college, and 3 years later were engaged. Shelby says,
"I poured my heart and soul into the wedding plans, because I wanted the day that would celebrate our love and commitment for each other to be absolutely amazing."
So Shelby was a bit blindsided when her fiance came to her the week of the wedding and told her he didn't love her.
"Bam. My dreams of marrying and having kids with what I thought was the man I would spend the rest of my life with vanished," she said. "I was in complete shock and had no idea what to think or do. I was numb. The next few days were a blur of calling guests and canceling vendors."
Everyone in her family was in shock, and didn't know quite what to do. But Shelby had made a decision that she was not going to wallow in self pity. She knew she had to move on.
And that's when her wedding photographer, Elizabeth Hoard Photography, suggested Shelby have a "trash the dress" photo shoot. Shelby mulled it over, saying,
"At first it sounded crazy, but after really thinking about it, I knew that it was the perfect thing for me. After all, it was just a dress, a material item."
But Shelby knew if she was going to do this, she was going to do it surrounded by the people who did love her.
"Nov. 1 was supposed to be a fun and happy day surrounded by friends and family who loved me. I decided that I would not let my ex-fiancé's mistake of letting me go take that away from me."
And so, that's just what this shoot became. Joined by her parents...
and her bridesmaids...
Shelby spent the day laughing, healing and finding closure.
"I can't even describe how liberating and cathartic the experience was for me," said the bride-no-longer-to-be. "The moment the first bit of paint hit my dress I was free."
And the day wasn't just about Shelby. Following the shoot, the dress was put on display at a local bridal shop, with a portion of the proceeds from dress sales during its exhibit going to a local charity.
And so, the would-be-wedding date was still a celebration — a celebration of the next chapter in Shelby's life, which she was embracing with eagerness and enthusiasm.
And though being dumped right before her wedding was a tough pill to swallow, Shelby was able to gain a bit of perspective. She realized this difficult journey had actually helped her grow.
"Instead of lying down and letting life trample over me, I decided to get up and face it head-on,"
And she also recognized that God has a purpose and reward for every tribulation that is put in our path. The message she had for her ex-fiance was one of forgiveness:
"Thank you for sparing me greater pain and loss down the road. Thank you for pushing me to realize my own strength...Thank you for teaching me that no one can take away my happiness. Thank you for letting me go so I can one day experience true reciprocated love. THANK YOU!"
Weren’t the pictures just gorgeous? You can find another amazing story RIGHT HERE!