My fiancé cancelled our wedding three weeks before our big day

Updated

Natasha Pearl Hansen's fiancé called off their wedding three weeks before the big day. Instead of wallowing, she decided to record a comedy show from the venue in front of a live audience of family and friends called I Was Supposed To Get Married Today. Here Natasha, 39, reveals how she turned a catastrophe into a career opportunity...

Natasha Pearl Hansen, left pictured on what would have been her wedding day, recording her show, I Was Supposed To Get Married Today. (Supplied)
Natasha Pearl Hansen, left pictured on what would have been her wedding day, recording her show, I Was Supposed To Get Married Today. (Supplied) (Supplied)

I met John* when I was 21 and he was 22. My mum’s best friend set us up on a blind date, but we had a long-distance friendship before anything happened between us. He was living in Los Angeles and working as a model, then I moved to LA for work when I was 26 and it was then we finally became a couple.

He was my best friend – we were both easy-going and happy to go with the flow. We didn't get to see each other that much because he worked days and I was doing comedy and bartending in the evenings. We spent a lot of our time together socialising with friends. In retrospect, we rarely did anything alone together.

After we'd been in a relationship for seven years, John proposed, but I think I’d already mentally checked out. Everything in our relationship had happened so slowly – it took him a year of dating to say he loved me and another year for us to move in together. Doubts had crept in, like, 'Was I not good enough for him?'

It weighed heavily on me, but I felt like I’d paid my dues, put all the effort in, and then when he finally proposed when I’d just turned 33, I didn’t even know if I wanted to get married any more. It was like I was on a train I couldn’t get off.

I’d always been the type of woman who said, 'Ignore these timelines and weird pressure to get married and have kids when society says it's ideal' but deep down, I had wondered, 'Do I settle or do I wait? And if I wait, that may rule out other options, like kids...'

Natasha Pearl Hansen turned being jilted into a comedy act, pictured here on what would have been her wedding day. (Supplied)
Natasha Pearl Hansen turned being jilted into a comedy act, pictured here on what would have been her wedding day. (Supplied) (Supplied)

I think we were both just coasting, but when I was out doing my comedy, meeting people, I felt more sociable, more alive, so I knew something wasn’t quite right. But I was very grateful that my best friend Claire* and John got on so well – we had a three-way message group message thread and when I was out on the road, travelling for my comedy, she and John would often hang out. She’d even offered to do our wedding photography.

I think we were both just coasting, but when I was out doing my comedy, meeting people, I felt more sociable, more alive, so I knew something wasn’t quite right.

I got along well with his family and was really close to his mum and older brother, but leading up to our split, something shifted. Sadly, his mother died, and afterwards it became apparent that she had been the glue who'd made me feel included in his family. We did our own thing separately for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was like they were distancing themselves. I didn’t feel embraced and welcomed anymore. I started doing more things alone.

John and I were due to get married in June 2018, but hadn’t got round to getting everything sorted, so we pushed it back a year to June 15, 2019. Fast forward to April 2019, and not much had changed, apart from me booking the venue and paying a hefty $25,000 (£19,590) deposit.

I went into damage control mode and thought, 'OK, I'll turn a rubbish situation into a celebratory one!'

Three weeks before our big day, John said he couldn’t do it – he didn’t want to split (well, not yet), but he didn’t feel ready to get married. I went into damage control mode and thought, 'OK, I'll turn a rubbish situation into a celebratory one!' and decided to film my comedy special, I Was Supposed To Get Married Today.

I negotiated with the venue to get my deposit refunded and instead have a $2,500 (approx £1,960) minimum bar tab and then I got to work selling tickets. My friend Jake from the local comedy circuit hosted it. I felt like I was hosting a party, not commiserating a doomed relationship. My family even helped me decorate the venue.

Natasha Pearl Hansen during another performance this year. (Todd Rosenberg Photography)
Natasha Pearl Hansen says she's become much better at learning to let go of situations and people who don't make her happy. (Todd Rosenberg Photography) (Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Understandably, John felt too weird and uncomfortable to come along, as there were a lot of my hometown friends, family and people who were meant to be our wedding guests there. I didn’t want to slate him during the show because that’s not my style, but I Facetimed him at the end and he jokingly said, "Maybe third time lucky!" because we were still trying to work on our relationship.

Understandably, John felt too weird and uncomfortable to come along, as there were a lot of my hometown friends, family and people who were meant to be our wedding guests there.

By the time filming was done, I was so relieved that I’d had that level of support from my family and friends. It was weird because I was supposed to be fulfilled by marrying the person who should have been the love of my life, but I was more fulfilled by having brushed myself off and got through what could have been an extremely painful day.

I stayed busy after filming and while John and I were still together, he was disinterested in anything I was doing or had to say, so it was incredibly awkward.

January 10, 2020, is seared in my brain because it was the day John said he couldn’t carry on anymore. I asked him, "With what? How things have been going or the engagement?" And replied, "All of it." And as much as I'd seen it coming, like it was the slowest drawn-out split, it still really hurt.

I didn’t know how to feel, it was like I’d already done my grieving. But the following day, after we’d gone to one last social event together, I couldn’t stop crying. It was actually happening...

And then the pandemic hit – which was weirdly good timing. I’d put my stuff in storage and flew home to Chicago to be with my family. It gave me time to heal and to really think about what I wanted from a relationship.

My previous relationship to John had been abusive and then with John it was just 'pleasant'. I knew I had to be more picky and I wasn’t going to waste my time with other people’s rubbish. While I didn’t have a checklist of what I wanted, I knew how I didn’t want to feel.

I’ve become much better at learning to let go of things and people who don’t make me happy.

I’ve become much better at learning to let go of things and people who don’t make me happy. I’d always been a friendship gatherer, so that was a big thing to get over.

In the months that followed, my friend Jake and I started spending more time together, but still only as friends. We spent a lot of time apart because of travelling for work, but we spoke every evening for hours.

For Thanksgiving 2020, he ended up coming to my parents' house and stayed over. He liked being around my family and wanted to spend time with them, rather than making it feel like an unwanted obligation. That was really important to me because of how close I am to them.

Natasha Pearl Hansen got a shock when she discovered who her ex-fiancé's new girlfriend was. (Todd Rosenberg Photography)
Natasha Pearl Hansen got a shock when she discovered who her ex-fiancé's new girlfriend was. (Todd Rosenberg Photography) (Todd Rosenberg Photography)

For the year after our split, John and I still talked regularly because I wanted to make sure he was ok, especially as he was on his own during lockdown. Turns out he was plenty fine because he wasn’t alone.

Eventually our chats became less frequent, until one day, when out of the blue after a few months of not talking, he called. He was clearly hammered. He knew Jake and I were together, and he mentioned he was with someone new too. He told me they’d been together for 10 months which me realise the timeline was a little quick after our split. I asked him if I knew her, and he went all quiet and said, "Yes, it’s Claire." I was floored and told him I was hanging up. That was the last time we ever spoke.

Natasha Pearl Hansen has penned a new comedy show about her wedding-day-that-wasn't, which she'll be performing at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival. (Supplied)
Natasha Pearl Hansen has penned a new comedy show inspired by her wedding-day-that-wasn't, which she'll be performing at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival. (Supplied) (Supplied)

I’ve been told they’re married now with kids, so good for them. I didn’t care that he was in another relationship, because we clearly weren’t meant to be, and in an odd way, I hoped we could have stayed friends. But of all the people, Claire was the most jarring and painful he could have chosen. I’d been incredibly close to her, and I would have done anything for her.

It made me question if I was too trusting and kind. It’d been a seamless transition for John to get together with Claire. Not to throw anyone under the bus, but I guess I was way too trusting with my favourite people spending time together.

But like with my pseudo-wedding day of filming, I channelled my pain and lessons into my work. My new show at the Edinburgh Fringe picks up where the last special left off. But my future is bright. With my new partner Jake, we do everything together – we’re both comedians and we often travel together, and most of all, he has my back. I’d love to get married one day and have kids. Maybe that’ll be my next instalment!

*Some names have been changed to protect identities.

Natasha Pearl Hansen's show The Right Amount Of Wrong, is at Just The Tonic – Cabaret Voltaire @ The Liberty Room, Edinburgh in August, See www.nphcomedy.com.

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