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By Lisa Daily

A jilted Malaysian bride, Norlida Abdul Rahman, is suing her would-be groom, a professional football player named Hasmawi Hassan after he used a mobile phone text message to call off their wedding, less than 24 hours before the big day. According to a number of press reports, he apparently said: "We were not meant to be together." I can only hope the cold-footed (or maybe cold-hearted) groom typed out the whole message, rather than breaking her heart with a quick NT MNT 2B 2GETHER

Norlinda, brave and hopeful girl that she was, went ahead with the wedding, groom-free, and greeted her 1000 guests who had shown up for a traditional Malay wedding at her family home, wearing her wedding dress. The groom, as you might guess, did not make an appearance.

Last week, Jennifer Wilbanks disappeared without her wallet, keys or sparkly diamond ring just hours before her lavish 600-guest wedding in Atlanta.

After hours of frantic searching by the bridal party, wedding guests and more than one hundred law enforcement officers she turned up Friday in Albuquerque where she called authorities and her fiancé to let them know she'd been abducted while jogging. Except, she wasn't abducted. She was a runaway bride. Now, she's facing charges for falsely reporting a crime.

When faking your own abduction and sneaking off on a bus headed for Vegas via Albuquerque seems like a better plan than attending your own wedding, you've got something more severe than cold feet. Jennifer Wilbanks' run for the state line was a clear statement of her desire NOT to marry her would-be groom. Ever. But why would anyone let it get that far?

There are two reasons why people freak out before a wedding. First, maybe the bride or groom has been feeling for a number of weeks or months that they are making a mistake, but are too afraid to say anything because their families and friends have invested a lot of time, money and emotion in the future wedding. The deposit for the banquet room is non-refundable, the dress is in its ninth and final stages of fitting, and whether you tie the knot or not, that 236 pounds of boiled shrimp is yours to keep. Your closest friends and family have bought non-refundable airline tickets, gifts and formalwear with matching shoes and breaking off an engagement can feel like you're letting everyone down.

The second reason people tend to get cold feet is when they do really want to get married, but because of the stress involved in putting on a wedding, every detail from the ingredients of butter cream to whether or not Uncle Hal is allowed to touch the microphone feels as significant as Middle East peace talks. Usually in these situations, something happens to bring the situation to a head (the florist orders the cattails instead of tulips or the tuxedos show up with shiny purple bowties) and it sends either the bride or the bridegroom over the edge. A breakdown ensues, followed by "why the heck am I doing this?" followed by the feeling that maybe they're making a mistake. Usually in this case, the "cold feet" is brought on by stress, and is relieved once the bride/bridegroom has an insane-asylum-style meltdown or a temper tantrum that could rival any toddler.

So, what's the best way to deal with pre-wedding jitters? If you start feeling like you might be making a mistake a few weeks or months before the big day, the best way to handle it is to talk it over with your fiancé and postpone the wedding. That way, you can take some of the pressure of the big party off, and buy yourself some time to decide if you really want to be with this person forever or not.

If you've been feeling positive about getting married up until a day or so before the ceremony, and you all of a sudden feel like the world is spinning out of control and the only way to make it stop is to board a bus to Albuquerque try getting out of the fray for a while. Hand off the details that are making you crazy to someone else, or just make the decision that no one will remember the color of the roses six months from now anyway and just let it go. Then, book yourself an appointment with your favorite shrink or massage therapist. Or both.

So, is there a way you can keep from ditching your bride or groom at the altar? Yes. If that nagging little voice inside your head keeps telling you you're making a mistake, listen to it, and get out early.

Think about why you wanted to get married in the first place. The great party? The fancy dress? To get grandma off your back? If you're getting married to fix a bad relationship (things would be different if we were married syndrome) know that once you've opened the gifts and put that hideously expensive dress in its little airtight vault for historic preservation that you'll still be in the same relationship you were in before you got engaged. A ring on your finger and a closet full of matching bath towels doesn't change a thing.

© 2005 by Lisa Daily. All rights reserved.

Lisa Daily is the author of Stop Getting Dumped!
All you need to know to make men fall madly in love
with you and marry "The One" in 3 years or less. At bookstores everywhere.
As seen in/on Cosmopolitan, The Other Half and Ricki Lake
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