Marriage & Wedding Information

What Can We Learn From the "Runaway Bride" Story?

Have you heard enough about the "Runaway Bride" yet? Well, stay tuned. This story is not going to wind down for a while. It has the capacity to make celebrities (notorious or not) of at least two people - the runaway bride and the jilted groom, depending upon how much they each value what's left of their privacy.

I truly feel sorry for Jennifer, because she must be going through absolute torture right now, even if she did bring it all on herself. Everyone makes mistakes in life. However, this unique case deserves some scrutiny - and it's getting plenty.

I worry that Jennifer could despair at the nationwide censure she is now receiving. But her mistakes hurt the people who are most near and dear to her - and trivialized the time, emotions, and energy of hundreds of others.

There is no question that weddings are highly stressful events - so stressful that maybe they're not worth all the distress they can cause. It wasn't the running away that was the biggest problem, as bad as that was for her family and fianc - it was the concocting of the kidnapping hoax, all because she did not want to admit that she had actually just run off, stressed out with only days to go before her huge wedding. I'm sure she now wishes she'd had the courage to tell it like it was.

When the Truth Came Out on Live TV

The night the truth of the story broke, I was pulling an "all-nighter" for my Saturday morning graduate class, studying for an exam. I had CNN on in the background, so I heard that the missing bride-to-be had been found. There was live coverage on this. Everyone, even the reporters, was gushing and exulting with joy, interviewing the bride's best friends and bridesmaids.

But it REALLY got interesting about two hours before dawn when the police chief in Albuquerque, New Mexico, came out to make a statement. CNN had audio problems at that crucial moment, so I switched over to Fox News, who was broadcasting the same thing live. Lo and behold, what the police chief said changed everything - dramatically. That was when it was revealed that the kidnapping story had all been a lie.

When I switched back to CNN, it was somewhat funny to see the shock and consternation on the faces of the flabbergasted reporters. It's certainly rare to see national news reporters forced to drastically switch gears live on national television that way. One minute they were deeply concerned about a missing woman whose wedding was supposed to be held that very day - and the next, they were stunned, indignant, embarrassed, distanced now, and ready to cast a completely different light on the story.

Who can blame them? For indeed, what the Runaway Bride did humiliated a LOT of people. She not only humiliated them - she greatly inconvenienced hundreds of people, misled millions, but worst of all by far, she knowingly brought untold anguish to her own parents and to the man who was committed to marry her - both by running away without contacting them, and then by telling such a ridiculous and embarrassing lie. In some cultures, a stunt like that would bring irreparable disgrace to her family.

Trying to Lie to the FBI

What makes this story most confounding is that the runaway bride did something very, very stupid by lying about her disappearance. Don't most people know better than to try to lie to the police and the FBI? Don't most people know that it's pretty hard to hold up a tale like a fake abduction under hours of endless questioning by law enforcement officials who are just doing their jobs? Don't most people know that you could get some innocent people sent to prison if your story was actually believed?

This is not a kid we're talking about - this is not even someone as young as Monica Lewinsky was (and for me, Monica's age did excuse her to a great extent) - this is a 32-year-old woman.

The only explanation for such a stupid move is that the girl was absolutely desperate. She had been caught running away from her wedding, but she still couldn't bear to tell her family and fianc that she just couldn't face the wedding music.

Getting cold feet before a wedding can mess up a lot of things - but it's not a crime. We all know it's better to be honest than to get married when you have doubts. But lots of people do exactly that - get married with doubts, then spend years and years regretting it, with their children paying the price.

Why are people are so involved emotionally in this story? That's because it hits home on many levels. Many of us would like to run away from the pressures of life. But that isn't the main reason - it's all about honesty, the foundation on which we base our lives each day.

How many of us are truly honest all day long? We may think we're honest, but a closer look reveals many lies woven into our daily lives. Perhaps we think we're honest, but we've never been put to the test yet - and the test may prove that other things - like what people think - are more important to us than honesty.

Trust is Everything

The greatest lesson of all in the story of the runaway bride is how much we all need to be able to believe in what others tell us. We rely on the word of others and base our actions on our trust in their truthfulness. Many actions were taken and much agony was experienced based on the trust people had in this woman - the woman they all thought they knew so well.

Because this turned out to be a fabrication, it will affect how people react the next time something like this happens. People will be cynical and much more cautious - something most people were not this time. There were a few voices who wondered if Jennifer's case could be one of "cold feet" -but very few, because everyone insisted that she would never do something like run off without telling anyone.

Jennifer's distress should remind us all that we don't have to be perfect, and we don't have to live up to other people's expectations of us. If we try to do that, the cost can be too great - it costs us our true selves. Trying to live up to the expectations of others was too much for Jennifer twice - first when she ran away, and second when she was unable, day after day, to admit to her family that she had felt the need to run away.

This young woman - and all of us - needs to accept who she really is and know that it's all right to be who you are. Even if it ruins a large and lavish wedding, that's much better than what she may be facing now.

We all make mistakes. Lots of us make huge mistakes. We're just lucky that most of us never have to deal with the publicity of our mistakes that Jennifer now has to face. The picture of her with the towel covering her face spoke volumes. We all need to stop and think before we ever do anything for which we'd want to cover our face later.

As for Jennifer, she should hire a writer and start working on a book. She's probably going to need the money. If she isn't charged and fined, she'll certainly want to make a big donation to her town's police force - the one that missed a slain colleague's funeral to look for a runaway bride.

Sarah Tanner is a writer about relationships and charm. Visit her website,, and sign up there for her unique emails about charm and relationships. You will receive free ebooks on relationships and self-improvement with each email!You are welcome to reprint this article if you include this resource box with all links unchanged.


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