Tara was looking forward to her £20k wedding when the phone rang and everything changed…

As I sealed the envelope, neatly folding in the thick cream and purple card, I glanced at my fiance, Aiden. “That’s the last of the wedding invitations,” I beamed, adding it to the stack of 200 others.
Our wedding plans had snowballed and, what was once a simple ceremony for close family and friends, had now become a lavish affair.
A lot of men would have run a mile, but my gorgeous groom took it all in his stride. Aiden and I wanted to tell the world we were getting married.
We met in a nightclub in 2009 and I instantly fell for his boyish good looks.
“Can I have your number?” he asked, full of confidence. I was used to telling fellas where to go, but Aiden was different.
“Alright then,” I smiled, punching my digits into his phone. The next week we went for our first date and just days later, I introduced Aiden to my parents.
I could tell Dad approved. In fact, I barely got a look in that night as they talked endlessly about the local football club Aiden played for, and Dad coached.
Within just three months, Aiden had moved in with me and my parents. And just a few weeks later he took me to a local restaurant and got down on one knee. “Will you marry me?” Aiden nervously whispered.
I was stunned. We’d only been together six months but everything felt so right and I agreed in a heartbeat.
“We’re so happy for you love,” Mum and Dad beamed as I showed off my glittering ring. “You’ve got a good one there.”
I agreed and I couldn’t want to become Aiden’s wife, but suffering with polycystic ovaries, we decided to prioritise having a family over a wedding.
I fell pregnant three times, but every time I lost the baby mid-term. It was devastating and I began to wonder if I’d ever be able to give Aiden a child.
But as always, Aiden knew just want to say. “Let’s get married,” he said, pulling me into a hug. “Let’s book the wedding, make it a day to remember.”
He was right, I needed the distraction after the heartache and it soon became clear any thoughts of a simple ceremony were going out of the window.
I threw myself into organising our lavish celebration and booked a grand venue, The Warren, and hired a wedding planner to help make my dream day a reality.
We chose Cadbury’s purple and iris flowers as the colour theme and my planner went wild. We booked a videographer, a photographer and the best chefs in town.
I was bubbling with excitement as I chose my dress and even designed pretty purple bridesmaid dresses myself and had a seamstress run them up.
We bought rings, suits for the men, the cake and plumped for a dream honeymoon in Aruba, in the Caribbean.
We even paid for two helicopters to take us for a trip around London before dropping us off on the lawn outside our wedding venue. “I want to arrive in style, don’t I?” I grinned as I signed the booking form.
I lost count of how many invitations I sent out but by the time that last envelope went in the post, over 200 of our nearest and dearest were making plans to come to the wedding of the year.
No expense was spared but when it looked like costs were going to exceed over £20,000, even I was shocked.
“You can’t afford this, Mum,” I said. “Nothing's too much for our daughter,” she beamed. Mum and Dad weren’t rich by any means, but for years they’d been saving hard for my wedding day.
“You only do it once, after all,” she smiled.
So three months before our wedding day, I waved Aiden off on his stag do to Magaluf. “Behave yourself!” I joked as I dropped him at the airport.
My brother was going too, I knew he wouldn’t let things get out of hand, and the day after the boys returned, the girls and I jetted out to the same resort.
It was a riot, but it was a relief to both be back home, safe and sound, ready to put the finishing touches to our big day, booked for 10 weeks’ time.
“What do you want to see then?” I asked Aiden and my Dad as we checked the film listings, planning a Saturday trip to the cinema.
We were discussing the latest blockbusters when Dad’s phone started ringing and he wandered into the next room to take the call.
“Yes, Aiden’s my son-in-law,” I overheard Dad say as my ears pricked up. I looked over at Aiden, who had gone white as a sheet, and when Dad came back in, he looked like he’d been punched in the stomach.
“Who’s Chrissie McDonnell?” Dad demanded, glaring at Aiden.
“I don’t know,” Aiden stammered. But I could see something wasn’t right.
“Well would you mind explaining why you’ve been in a relationship with her since February then?” Dad went on.
I felt a sickening knot tighten in my stomach as I turned to Aiden, desperately seeking his face for answers. I prayed it was a terrible mistake but Aiden couldn’t bring himself to look me in the eye.
Instead, he kept his eyes fixed firmly to the ground as he pulled his shoes on and ran out the door, without saying a word to any of us.
The agonising silence hung in the air for what felt like an eternity. I was too shocked to speak and Dad paced the room, furious.
I was numb with shock, but I needed to know more. Chrissie had left Dad a number for her, in case I wanted to speak to her. Too right I did!
Anger welled inside me as I dialled the number. “Chrissie, this is Tara, Aiden’s fiancee,” I announced.
But as she told me her side of the story my anger calmed. I realised Chrissie had been duped too and was just as much a victim of Aiden’s lies as I was.
I couldn’t believe it when she told me she’d met Aiden in The Venue Nightclub six months earlier. “That’s where Aiden and I met,” I croaked.
It was clear Chrissie loved Aiden, as I did. “He was due to meet my parents for the first time tonight,” she sobbed. “When he didn’t turn up my sister became suspicious.”
She explained they’d found Aiden’s Twitter account with a ‘countdown to wedding’ clock on it. “Our worst fears were confirmed when we found you on Facebook and saw your hen do pictures,” Chrissie went on.
Chrissie told me Aiden had even text her from Magaluf, pretending he was on a mate’s stag do and promised to take her to the same resort in Aruba we’d booked for our honeymoon.
When Chrissie forwarded me the messages he’d sent her, it was almost too much to bear. Part of me wished I hadn’t seen them but it confirmed the truth - Aiden had feelings for her.
Everything I thought I knew in my life was falling apart. I had so many questions for Aiden but he’d vanished.
That’s when I remembered the Find My iPhone app, and I logged onto the iPad and found Aiden’s phone at a friend’s house.
I had so many questions for Aiden but I had no idea where he’d gone until I remembered we had an app on our iPad to track our phones and I saw he was at a friend’s house.
I drove straight round there, banging on the door and ringing his phone but he refused to come and talk to me. Coward!
By the time I got back home, Dad had called my mum who was out of the country, on holiday, and was desperately trying to find the first flight back.
I couldn’t bear to speak to anyone or even leave my room. I just lay on my bed, my head spinning, trying to work out where it had gone wrong. Had I missed the signs?
Thankfully, when Mum got back, she took control. “We need to ring the guests to let them know,” she soothed. “Leave it all to me.”
In my shock, I hadn't even considered the wedding but now, the full humiliation of what had happened dawned on me.
Mum was nothing short of amazing. She rang every single guest while I lay in bed sobbing.
Then she had to speak to the suppliers and the venue. We’d paid deposits for everything and it was going to be a battle to recoup some of our costs.
But we were so close to the wedding, most of the work had been done. The wedding planner, venue and photographer all needed paying.
In the end we lost over £8,000. My parents put a brave face on it, but it was heartbreaking. They’d blown so much of their life savings, and for nothing.
I only saw Aiden once. He sheepishly returned to collect his passport and driving licence. I’m sure he’d have done anything to avoid seeing us but he had no choice.
He apologised to my parents and promised to pay them the £8,000 back, even writing an IOU. What a joke.
He still couldn’t look me in the eye as he mumbled what sounded like an apology, but there were no words that could make up for what he did to me.
I never saw Aiden again after that and although I was heartbroken, in time I realised I’ve had a lucky escape.
That phone call left my dream wedding in tatters but it saved my life. Without it, I’d have been married to a cheating rat.
Aiden says: “Oh I feel awful, I feel awful. It was the biggest mistake of my life. She can tell her story, that’s up to her. I want my name kept out of it.”
Chrissie says: “You can use my first name but I don’t want to be involved.”


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