A bride who spent all her life savings on her wedding carried on with the ceremony after her groom stood her up.
Kayley Stead discovered her wedding to her partner of almost four years wasn’t going to hold when her mother-in-law-to-be broke the news he’d fled on the day of the wedding.
The bride was getting her hair and make-up done when it was discovered that the groom would not be attending the wedding.
Despite the heartbreak, Kayley 27, who had spent £12k on the wedding preparations, decided to go ahead with the big day on September 15 at Oxwich Bay Hotel in Swansea, with her loved ones around her.
With support from her bridal party and family, Kayley went ahead with her wedding entrance, meal, speeches, dances and even posed for professional photos without her groom.
She entered the party singing along to Lizzo’s Good As Hell with her bridal party and spent her first dance with the groomsmen, her brothers, Craig, 47, Matthew, 46, Gary, 46, and another Craig, 43, and her dad, Brian, 71.
Now, living alone with no explanation from her ex and her honeymoon cancelled, Kayley is coming to terms with what has happened.
Kayley, who works as an insurance clerk and lives in Portmead, Swansea, said she saw the groom at 4pm the day before the wedding but hasn’t heard from him since.
She said: “We’ve tried to reach out to him, but I’ve had no response from him, no reason why.
“I’ve had no explanation – not that I want one now, because it’s too far along the line.
“It was an absolute shock, I had no indication he was going to do this but seeing my girls distraught as well made me want to turn the day around.
“I didn’t want to remember the day as complete sadness.
“The whole day, we were saying it felt like an episode of Hollyoaks or EastEnders. It didn’t feel like a real life situation.
“There were so many special moments, like my wedding entrance, the sparkler walk, the first dance and punching the wedding cake – so there was still happiness in the day.
“I’d spent all this money, I’d been looking forward to the food, a dance with my dad, spending time with my family, so why not?”
Kayley and her ex had been together for almost four years and got engaged when he proposed in August 2020.
The night before the wedding, Kayley stayed in an AirBnB celebrating with her bridesmaids while the groom and his groomsmen stayed in a caravan near the venue.
Kayley said: “The groom and I had already agreed not to speak the night before the wedding anyway, so I didn’t know what was happening on his end, I didn’t have a clue.”
The groom left the caravan that evening and never returned, leaving the groomsmen to contact the bridal party with the dreadful news.
“We woke up at quarter past six when the makeup artist arrived, had breakfast together and then started getting ready,” Kayley said.
“One of the groomsmen contacted my best friend to say the groom was gone, and the bridal party hid my phone so they could decide what was the best way to tell me and I wouldn’t find out from someone else.
“They wanted to make sure he was definitely gone before panicking me.
“I found my phone and saw I had a missed call from his mum. I called her back and she was crying and told me he had gone for a drive in the early hours of the morning, and he was gone.
“At that point, I wasn’t nervous, I was still quite hopeful, as throughout our relationship, he had sometimes gone for a walk or a drive to clear his head when he was nervous.
“For a couple of hours, I was saying he was going to be there, and I was reassuring the girls. I honestly believed, hand on heart, that he was going to be there.”
Kayley asked everyone to continue getting ready, believing the groom would show.
At around 11am, Kayley had just sat to have her hair done with her makeup all finished when she spoke to the groom’s dad on the phone – who said her partner had been in touch and would not be attending the wedding.
Kayley said: “At that point, I was gone. I was sobbing.
“Once I told my parents, the hairdresser and the videographer, that’s when I had to tell myself that it wasn’t going to happen.
“As a joke, the videographer said ‘Why don’t you carry on, girls? You’ve spent all this money, you’re not getting it back, all your guests are there, why don’t you just go?’
“My sister was redoing my makeup, because at that point it was all just gone, and she said: ‘Why don’t you do it, Kayley?’
“That’s when I was like, I’m going to do it. I’d spent all this money, I’d been looking forward to the food, a dance with my dad, spending time with my family, so why not?”
Kayley’s bridal party called the groomsmen and told them to head to the wedding venue, where they would carry on with the day, regardless of the groom turning up.
The two parties headed into the ceremony room together and told the guests what had happened before asking them to head out to the garden to meet Kayley instead.
As they went into the garden, Kayley made her grand entrance. Instead of the traditional bride and groom’s entrance, Kayley was joined by the groomsmen and bridesmaids as they sang and danced on their way to the top table.
She said: “We were just doing things off the cuff, really. It was all based on instinct, and we just went with it.
“You can probably see a few tear streaks down my face, but I love the photos.
“I was never going to make a speech, but I wanted to thank everyone for staying because they didn’t have to. It was a very awkward situation for them to be in, but they all stayed.”
The photo booth had originally displayed “Mr and Mrs” with what would have been the couple’s married name but was quickly replaced with a sign that read “Kayley’s Shindig”.
Kayley is now adjusting to a newly-single life without her groom and sadly cannot go on the honeymoon to Turkey.
She said: “I had no clue, no signal. He showed me no reason as to why he would leave me on that day.
“A couple of days before, we were going for food together, he was talking about the honeymoon, and he bought me a book last Christmas with a million reasons as to why he loved me inside, all handwritten with our special moments.
“After I found out he wasn’t coming to the wedding, I decided I didn’t want to remember the day as complete sadness.
“There were so many special moments, like my wedding entrance, the sparkler walk, the first dance and punching the wedding cake. There was still happiness in the day.”