Most brides dream about the day they will walk down the aisle and say their I dos. On their big day, they worry about the weather, catering, venue, and many more other things, but usually never about the groom not pitching for his big day.
Senzy April*, a bride from Idutywa, was forced to call off her big day because the groom did not show up for the event.
For Senzy, things were slightly different as she was getting married to a man she never had a formal relationship with - they only spoke twice a week leading up to their wedding.
Their church elders facilitated the relationship after the groom expressed interest in marrying Senzy to them, and she agreed.
"I was too rooted in my spiritual journey as a born-again Christian, so I made sure we did not talk except if we were talking about wedding dates, and I guess that was my mistake," she says.
Unlike many other brides, Senzy was not very involved in planning her wedding day either. "I never had to worry about wedding preparations. My church took care of everything. I am not even sure of the amount of money that was used for my first wedding ceremony," says the former bride.
The only thing she remembers spending on is a dress, shoes, hair, and cake. Since members of the church were assisting and giving her unwavering support, she never anticipated that anything could go wrong.
In hindsight, she now says there was an incident that should have set her on high alert before the wedding day. "Two prophets from the church asked me if I was not worried about the groom not showing up, but I was confident, and the question never raised any concerns," says the 43-year-old.
On the day of the wedding ceremony, the bride waited in her room, doing hair and makeup.
"I saw church leaders walking in, and they started praying. It seemed normal because that's what people do before a wedding ceremony. But when I heard them asking God to give me strength in this situation, I started to realise that something might be wrong," she says
Senzy says others started mentioning the returning of wedding gifts in their prayers. It was after all the praying that the 43-year-old bride discovered that the groom was nowhere to be found.
She was left with no option but to cancel the wedding. "We had to give the food away. There was a tuckshop close by, and we gave it to them, and the rest of it was eaten by people who came to the wedding," says Senzy.
When the groom finally phoned the pastor, he told him that his boss made him choose between getting married and his job, so he was forced to be at work on the day.
Senzy's family members were furious at the groom, and people expected her to be furious too. "I knew that if the wedding was not going to happen, this meant there is something God was protecting me from. I am a strong believer," Senzy says, revealing that she chose not to be angry and rather trust God in the situation.
Six months later, they had another wedding, but unlike at the first wedding, not all invited guests attended.
"The second time around, we did not prepare as much as we did the first time. I used the same dress, shoes, and even the church venue. My husband decided to come back early from work to avoid repeating the same mistake," she says.
The couple has been married for 16 years now. Senzy's husband still doesn't like talking about what happened, and she's decided not to bring up the matter.
Looking back at what she went through when she was left at the alter, Senzy is glad she didn't walk away from the relationship as she is now happily married with three children.
*Name has been changed to protect Senzy's real identity.
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