(Note: This is one of my interesting articles I’ve safekept which was previously published in Weddings Magazine. If you have another engrossing story to tell, care to share them here🙂
Like Julia Roberts’ character Maggie Carpenter in Runaway Bride, my friend Ron is a runaway groom – two times over.
Twice, he mustered enough courage to propose to his two serious girlfriends and twice he called the engagement off – naturally with heartbreaking results.
Ron’s first engagement was to his officemate Tina. They were on-and-off for six years. Ron proposed to her during one of their “off” moments.
“We were having dinner at Mario’s and I thought the timing was perfect. All along, I had in my pocket an engagement ring which I was dying to give her. It cost P18,000. I was really expecting bells to ring and angels to fly but none came. Nonetheless, I popped the question and she said yes,” Ron related.
“The next day, we already tried making arrangements. We made an appointment for Discovery Weekend because I really wanted us to go through that getting-to-know each other Catholic seminar. We were scheduled to be married in June 2000 but we were told that they could book us for August yet. We were put on the waiting list and that got me to thinking that maybe, we don’t have to rush into marriage after all,” he noted.
The next day, Ron called Tina and she noticed the lameness in his voice. She sensed that something was wrong and so he admitted that indeed, he had changed his mind.
“Next time, kung hindi ka sigurado, wag mo na lang sabihin,” was all Tina could say.
Tina eventually married somebody else but she chose to keep Ron’s P18,000 engagement ring.
After his two-day engagement to Tina, Ron – a software developer – got hitched next to Betsy, his former high school classmate who’s now based in the US. They chanced upon each other again in the Internet and wasted no time in catching up on the good old days.
Soon, Ron found himself travelling to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania just to see her. ” I had this image of Betsy as the cute, brainy girl in high school whom I had a crush on. But it seemed the years had changed her. What greeted me in the airport was Betsy who had gained weight and was obviously older.”
Despite what he called his “shattered” illusion, Ron and Betsy had a great time touring sights in the US. They went to New York and as far away as California. Looking back, Ron considered it a bad enough omen that their last picture together during this trip was at the ill-fated World Trade Center.
In January 2001, it was Betsy’s turn to visit the Philippines. It was during this time that they made more concrete plans about their future together. “We agreed that we were not getting any younger. Sabi ko kay Betsy, kung gusto mo magpakasal na tayo.”
So, they had to squeeze in the little time that Betsy was in the Philippines to reserve the church, the hotel reception and the couturier. “We signed all the necessary papers and had to make a downpayment on the gowns, the food and the church.” Their wedding was set 11 months later.
Ron, in fact, was already considered part of Betsy’s family. He was already introduced to relatives as a “son-in-law.” Unbeknownst to their elders, Ron and Betsy were beginning to have conflicts that showed even in their emails to each other.
Betsy wanted the two of them to settle immediately in the US after the wedding but Ron had other plans. ” The most difficult thing I found hard to accept was her insistence that I go to the US without the necessary legal papers and without any work waiting for me there.” Ron interpreted Betsy’s actions as her way of controlling his life, and he thinks this contributed a lot in his eventually drifting away from her.
As the wedding approached , Betsy planed in to Manila with some of her relatives. Everyone became busy with the preparations and Ron hovered like a lost boy in the sideline with his muddled thoughts and lingering doubts.
“Two days before the wedding, I gathered enough courage to tell my parents that it wasn’t going to happen. My father was especially aghast. He wanted me to continue with the wedding. Kung gusto ko raw, hiwalayan ko na si Betsy the next day just to spare everyone the shame and the humiliation,” Ron recounted.
The morning after, Ron set a lunch date with Betsy and told her that he can’t keep their date at the altar. She was unbelieving and had a good cry.
I told her everything I felt inside and gave her three options: one, that we go on with the wedding but she should know that my feelings for her and our relationship had changed; two, that we postpone the wedding until such time that we feel it’s right; and three, that we cancel the wedding altogether.”
” Betsy, being the proud girl that she was, chose the third option. Soon, word got out to our entourage and they wasted no time in cursing and threatening me. On my part, I felt that a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulder. I could have chosen to stand her up on our wedding day but I didn’t,” Ron narrated.
Ron’s move proved to be expensive, time-consuming and emotionally-draining, but for him, it’s still the best decision of all.
He had to pay for the hotel, church and couturier. Add to this the constant ribbing he gets from friends about his “lost credibility.”
Ron hopes that after his bad experience, he won’t be a runaway groom for long.
” I still believe that marriage is a holy sacrament, a lasting bond between two people. I take after my parents who have been married for a good 30 years. When I see the right girl, I’ll just know she’s the right one.”
We sure hope the third time for Ron will be the last.
Postscript: It has been a few years since Ron shared his story with me over beer & oysters at Via Mare. The last time I heard, he was not yet married but living with someone.