"Yes," I told him. Then I thought: I'm not going to be able to pull that handkerchief. That night, I broke down and told my older brother that it didn't look like we were going to get married. Irrational fears still in place, I suggested that Mark was the only one with the doubts. David promised me that he'd help me break the news to our parents. Still, I waited. Mark and I were in full calling-it-off talks when we went home to his parents' city for a celebratory dinner with their friends and my parents. We hung out with Mark's family the afternoon of the dinner, and I felt absolutely brakesslamming-world-ending sick. When they got into town, my parents called from their hotel room and I stretched the phone cord taut into the living room, shut the door, and told them. Again, I neglected to mention my feelings on the issue. "Oh everyone gets cold feet!" my mother assured me. "Even your dad!" I really don't think that's what it is, I told them. And when they saw my face at dinner that night, they knew. My father told me later that after that dinner, he and my mother were just waiting for the phone to ring with news the wedding was off. I didn't call. Instead, a few days later, I hopped a plane home. Weeping, I told my story to my sympathetic seatmate, (she actually said, "I know those tears," before I started in, but I didn't even need the opening). She told me how much better off I was — the first of many times I would hear that. My parents agreed. Together, we all breathed a sigh of relief while some of us (me) cried like babies. To say my parents came through would be a huge understatement. They stayed up late, telling me just how lucky I was. When women e-mail me and say they are afraid of telling their parents and costing them all that money, I lay it on the line. Our parents only want us to be happy. Yes, Almost Brides have told me of parents being less than sympathetic, but the fact is, if your parents don't get it now, they will get it later. If they can't be happy for you, your own happiness will have to suffice. And any amount of money lost is worth a mistake being averted. Any amount. If you don't believe me, write this in large letters backwards on your forehead and stand in front of the mirror until the message gets through to you: Any amount. Do you know how expensive divorces are?
Despite our talk of relief, my parents didn't want me to spread the word. They sort of hoped we'd figure it out in the irrational way you think your plane will maybe take off in a blinding snowstorm. I knew it was over, of course. I gave them a day, and then, in decidedly un-Miss Manners fashion, I sent a mass e-mail. I assured everyone I was fine, but I regretted having to tell them that Mark and I weren't getting married. I told them I was home with my family and I'd be in touch soon. My very closest friends called, and everyone else, respecting my privacy, sent e-mails telling me how much they loved me. As far as etiquette goes, you're supposed to send out formal cards that say, Mr. and Mrs. Greatly Relieved announce that the marriage of their daughter Darling Airhead to Mr. Fortune Hunter will not take place. And we did that, too; it just took a few days. But I knew my friends cared only that I was okay, and the flood of replies full of love helped me immensely.