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Imagine planning your dream wedding, now complete with the list of guests, the flower arrangements, and the venue, when suddenly your fiancé—the man you believed was your soulmate—breaks it off in the last minute.
That was the case for Shelby Swink, a 23-year-old woman from Memphis, Tennessee. After meeting her ex-fiancé in college, they lived together until they got engaged in March 2014 and were planning to be wed in November.
Swink was all ready to wear her dream wedding dress. But less than a week before the actual ceremony, her fiancé broke it off.
He stated that he was not in love with her and no longer wanted to get married.
“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.
Swink eventually had to gather the courage to announce the news to everyone.
“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.”
Swink had her family and friends to lean on during those days, but when she thought everything was settled and over, she forgot she still had the dress to think about.
Thinking that it wasn’t right to sell or save it for the right one, Swink’s father and friends suggested something better—trash it.
Ruling out a pity party, Swink decided on setting up a photo shoot, complete with a professional photographer, of her ‘trashing’ the dress while donning it. With her friends and family around, everyone knew that even if things didn’t turn out the way they’ve expected it to, there wasn’t any reason to not celebrate.
“Nov. 1 was supposed to be a fun and happy day surrounded by friends and family who loved me,” Swink continued. “I decided that I would not let my ex-fiancé’s mistake of letting me go take that away from me.”
At first, Swink was nervous to have both parents around because her mother was the one who paid for the dress, but it turned out they were just as supportive as ever. They not only joined the photo shoot but participated in splattering paint all over the dress as well. Swink’s dad even bought cigars and champagne to mark the occasion.
The bridesmaids were not left out of the festivities and joined right in, even wearing the dresses supposedly made for the wedding.
The rebellious shoot turned out to be for a great cause as the wedding dress was displayed in a local bride shop. In this shop, for every dress sold, a portion of the money is given to the charitable group “Be Free Revolution,” which extends aid to third-world countries in the African continent.
Most of the time, revenge isn’t about getting back at the people who hurt you, it’s about feeling good about yourself and feeling blessed with the things you still have.
“Instead of lying down and letting life trample over me, I decided to get up and face it head-on,” Swink said. She truly exemplifies what it is to get up when life brings you down.
Shelby feels no remorse about what happened. Instead it made her feel stronger and happier.
So what does Shelby Swink have to say to the man who left her?
“Thank you for sparing me greater pain and loss down the road. Thank you for pushing me to realize my own strength,” she said. “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!”