A bride who spent her life savings on her wedding was jilted – but refused to let her money go to waste.
Kayley Stead decided to make the most of her big day after receiving a teary call from her fiancé's mum.
The reception was scheduled for September 15 at Oxwich Bay Hotel in Gower, Swansea.
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But when the 27-year-old received the heartbreaking news her partner wasn't going to appear, she went ahead with her wedding entrance, meal, speeches, dances – and even posed for professional photos.
Kayley spent the day surrounded by her loved ones – and has been forced to come to terms with living alone now that her honeymoon is off and her ex has left.
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, I was in complete, unknown bliss.
"We woke up at quarter past six in the morning when the make-up artist arrived.
"We had breakfast together and then started getting ready. One of the groomsmen contacted my best friend to say the groom was gone.
"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."
Kayley continued: "I found my phone and saw I had a missed call from his mum. I called her back and she was crying.
"She told me he had gone for a drive in the early hours of the morning and that 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. I asked the girls, his family and the groomsmen to continue getting ready, because I honestly believed he was going to be there."
Sadly, Kayley's optimism was dashed when her groom's dad called to say he definitely wasn't coming.
She explained: "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, you've spent all this money, you're not getting it back, all your guests are there, why not?'
"My sister was redoing my make-up, because at that point it was all just gone. When she said 'Why don't you do it, Kayley?' that's when I decided."
The defiant bride told her groomsmen and guests to arrive as usual – and it proved to be a great decision.
Kayley said: "Rather than walking down the aisle, I walked round the corner in my dress and had everybody just looking at me. Nobody knew what to do. I think they were a bit scared to say something. Suddenly everybody started cheering and hugging me."
The bride spent the day with her loved ones – but not her groom's family.
And instead of the traditional newlyweds entrance, she was joined by her groomsmen and bridesmaids who sang and danced along to Lizzo's Good as Hell on their way to the top table.
Kayley said: "It was all based on instinct, and we just went with it. I still wanted photos because all of the groomsmen and bridesmaids looked absolutely incredible and I wanted them to have their pictures as they normally would.
"The photographer also took a photo of me in my dress in the garden. Then we did family photos and bridesmaid photos instead of the bride and groom.
"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. I wanted to make sure everyone knew that it wasn't about being sad, we were going to power through this.
"Everybody kept saying sorry to me, but I wanted that to stop. They hadn't chosen that path, they'd chosen to stay, so let's celebrate that."
Rather than sharing her first dance with the groom, Kayley danced to Love You To The Moon and Back by Dolly Parton with her dad instead.
She said: "I'd always dreamed of dancing with my dad at my wedding. He's 71 and I always had a fear that he and my mum, Dee, 63, wouldn't be at my wedding, so I always wanted to have my dance with him.
"My four brothers and the groomsmen joined in because I wanted to thank them for staying. They didn't run away, and I would have totally understood if they did, but they stood by me the whole day."
The bride partied into the evening and spent the night in the bridal suite with her maid of honour and one of her best friends.
She didn't go ahead with the honeymoon to Turkey and is now adjusting to newly-single life.
Kayley 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, made me want to turn the day around.
"I didn't want to remember the day with 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?
"My best friends haven't left my side since. They slept with me in the room, so I wasn't on my own, as it was a weird space to be in without seeing all his stuff. I don't believe in fighting fire with fire, I'd rather just deal with the situation as best as I can and hold my head high.
"I don't want anybody to think I gave him a reason to leave me because I had no inclination before, that he was going to do this."
Kayley's best friend and maid of honour, Jordie Cullen, 27, has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover some of the wedding costs.
She added: "Kayley has a heart of gold and would do anything for anyone. She did not deserve to be left on the morning of her wedding day with no explanation and zero contact from the groom.
"We now ask you help us pick our girl up, dust herself off and move on. As her best friends and family, we want to help build a fresh start for her where she never has to suffer financially from the aftermath of this ordeal."
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