If you were a lovely young woman who spent months planning your perfect wedding, only to get dumped by your fiancé just days before the big day, you might feel like throwing a tantrum. You might hide in your bedroom for a few days eating ice cream out of the carton.
Or…you could gather your wedding party, pour some Champagne and do a little painting.
Shelby Swink met her fiancé in college in 2011, and in March 2014 they decided to make it official. Like most brides-to-be, Shelby planned everything to the last detail, wanting to create the celebration of a lifetime. But it didn’t happen. Five days before the wedding, the groom informed Shelby that he was no longer in love with her.
After the shock wore off, Shelby had an idea.
She invited her bridesmaids and parents to don their wedding finery and meet her in a grassy sunlit field on the day the celebration was scheduled—and it wasn’t for a pity-party. Instead, in her beautiful, meticulously altered wedding dress, Shelby distributed several small bottles of paint to her loved ones.
They didn’t even wait to hear the word “go”—they just let the colors fly, and a photographer friend captured it all.
“The moment the paint hit my dress…I was free,” Shelby wrote in a post for OffbeatBride.com. “All the disappointment, all the hurt…I just felt it leave me. I can’t even describe how liberating and cathartic the experience was for me. I let go of all the hurt and became myself again.”
After the shoot, a bridal store in Memphis proudly displayed the paint-spattered gown in its front window. The store also gave a portion of each purchase during the display to a local nonprofit that supports struggling women.
“We all face adversity in our lives, but what really defines us is how we decide to overcome that adversity. I decided that I will not let this tragedy and heartbreak consume me and bring me down in life,” Shelby added.
“Ultimately, I have come out of this experience a stronger and better person, and I am excited for the future knowing that God has a plan for me.”