Getting left at the altar isn’t just something that happens in tragic romantic comedies. It also happens in real life — even to celebrities! According to a study by WP Diamonds (via Best Life), a whopping 20 percent of engagements are called off — and that’s not just the high-stakes Hollywood love stories. With young, attractive stars snowballing into whirlwind romances as they rack up Oscar noms, it’s not surprising A-listers occasionally realize when they’re racing toward romantic milestones without actually being ready for what’s to come. Yeah … and you thought being stood up for a Tinder date was bad enough.
From Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Pitt’s matching haircuts fizzling into failed almost-matrimony to Julia Roberts taking on the Runaway Bride role before the movie ever started production, these celebs hightailed it out of their upcoming nuptials. And while many breakups were totally unexpected, let’s be honest: Anyone who’s ever watched Gigli could probably tell that Bennifer was never going to actually happen. Not with Jennifer Lopez, at least.
Julia Roberts was a runaway bride
For actress Julia Roberts, art clearly imitates life. The Runaway Bride star was literally a runaway bride — and, according to Yahoo! Entertainment, she scandalously ditched her wedding with her fiancé’s friend in tow. To her credit, who in their early 20s hasn’t done something reckless in the name of love?
In 1990, the Pretty Woman star had already broken off an engagement to actor Dylan McDermott when sparks flew between her and her co-star Kiefer Sutherland on the set of Flatliners. The pair was engaged by 1991, and they scheduled an extravagant ceremony at 20th Century Fox’s Soundstage 14.
The couple was just three days away from their 150-guest wedding when Roberts pulled the plug on the whole affair. People reported that Roberts had an $8,000 two-piece wedding dress that « hung unclaimed at the Tyler Trafficante West Hollywood salon. » The couple’s four-tier wedding cake never even made it to the oven, and restaurant staff allegedly dined on the dessert already ordered for Sutherland’s canceled bachelor party. Instead of tying the knot, Roberts allegedly shipped off to Ireland with Sutherland’s pal Jason Patric.
Later, in 2016, Sutherland would call his ex brave. « I think she had courage, » he said on The Jess Cagle Interview (via Hello!). « It wasn’t what she wanted to do in the end. And [I] think it took a lot of courage, in amongst all of that other stuff, to be able to say, I can’t do this. »
Gigli should have been a red flag
Long before Jennifer Lopez was ever a line in a Drake song, the Bronx-born singer was betrothed to actor Ben Affleck. According to the Daily Mail, the pair had an 18-month relationship that started on the set of their Blockbuster flop Gigli. Though Empire (and just about every other publication) slammed the flick by stating it was « impossible to imagine how it could’ve been worse, » Bennifer apparently didn’t take this as a sign their relationship was doomed. After all, Jersey Girl was pretty okay.
If Gigli wasn’t a death knell in itself, perhaps the fact that Affleck was reportedly spotted with strippers while filming in Canada should have been. Nonetheless, the couple went ahead with plans for their nearly $2 million wedding — then indefinitely postponed it on the very day they were meant to wed. According to the Daily Mail, guests were already on their way. Affleck’s famous friend Matt Damon was on a flight from Romania, while his brother, Casey Affleck, was working on his best man’s speech at the hotel bar.
Regarding her past, Lopez later told HuffPost Live (via E! News), « I would do it all over again, I think. I really would, » adding, « Even the relationship part. »
Though they’ll never have wedding photos to look back on, at least there’s the video for « Jenny From the Block. »
Who’d run from a Playboy mansion wedding?
Before Hugh Hefner married Crystal Harris and left her with millions of dollars upon his passing, the Playboy mogul was essentially left at the altar by the then-25-year-old. As reported by Us Weekly, the couple had been dating since 2009 before getting engaged on Christmas in 2010. The pair — who didn’t seem to mind the decades-spanning age gap — scheduled a beautiful, 300-guest wedding on the Playboy Mansion grounds. They reportedly mailed out all of the invitations, asked for charitable donations instead of gifts, and planned a TV special so that fans could celebrate their nuptials at home, but, according to TMZ, Harris bailed just five days before the wedding. Hefner announced the news in a tweet (via TMZ): « The wedding is off. Crystal has had a change of heart. » So, what happened?
The former Playboy playmate opened up to Ryan Seacrest on his KIIS-FM radio show (via Us Weekly) and admitted she called off the wedding because she « didn’t think it was the right thing for me to do. »
She told Seacrest, « For a while I’ve been having second thoughts about everything. I haven’t really been at peace with myself lately. I didn’t think it was really fair to him. » She continued, « It was all happening too fast for me… Was this what I wanted? »
Though Harris had cold feet, she eventually came around. According the Los Angeles Times, the pair wed on New Year’s Eve in 2013.
A matching haircut couldn’t save this engagement
Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow were everything that made ’90s tabloids buzz — they were blond, beautiful, as famous as it gets, and madly in love. Unfortunately, the world never got see the pair’s matching haircuts walk down the aisle because they called off their engagement weeks before their wedding day.
According to InStyle, Pitt and Paltrow met on the set of Se7en in 1994, and, rather than taking home Paltrow’s head in a box, Pitt got the whole package. The tabloid darlings were engaged by 1996, and they were apparently so overwhelmingly head over heels they even got matching haircuts (proving once and for all that Paltrow can truly pull off any look). After two and a half years of dating, the couple abruptly split in the summer of 1997. According to People, the celebrities were rumored to have a date « set for late summer in East Hampton, N.Y., » though other reports claim it never got that far. Nonetheless, Paltrow was spotted shopping in New York at Vera Wang, but we’d never know if she said yes to the dress because she admittedly « f***ed that up. »
« I was such a kid, » Paltrow said during a Howard Stern interview (via Us Weekly). « I was 22 when we met and it’s taken me until 40 to get my head out of my a**. … I think I was a kid and I wasn’t ready, and he was too good for me. »
Carson Daly ‘dodged a bullet’
Tara Reid and Carson Daly were theoretically a match made in early aughts heaven. Reid was at the height of her fame with American Pie, and Daly was the highly revered host of MTV’s iconic TRL. Though we could spend our days musing about whether or not Reid lovingly painted Daly’s fingernails black and what went down on the sandy Cancun beaches featured in MTV’s spring break show where they met (via E! News), the blessed union ultimately didn’t work out. According to Zimbio, the early 2000s icons got engaged at the onset of Y2K after dating for « less than a year. » By July 2001, their wedding was officially off following a sharknado of tabloid rumors that the TV host was less than faithful.
According to the New York Daily News, the couple tried to repair their relationship before Reid called it quits the same summer they were originally meant to wed. Reid was reportedly devastated to the point that she told CosmoGirl (via People) that she « couldn’t eat and sought guidance from five therapists. » Daly, on the other hand, later told Elle that he « dodged a bullet. » How nice.
Jude Law had two cancelled weddings
The saga of Jude Law and Sienna Miller will go down in Hollywood history books. The epic love story was tainted with two called-off weddings and a scandalous affair with the nanny. According to Glamour, Miller and Law met on the set of Alfie in 2003. The following year, the sexiest man alive, according to People (via Entertainment Weekly), proposed to his co-star, but the pair was hit with break-up rumors from the get-go. Despite this, they forged ahead spending time together in New Orleans — at least until 2005 when Law publicly admitted to cheating on the actress with his kids’ nanny. Why is it always the nanny? Miller promptly called things off, but they weren’t done for good.
Miller and Law got back together a month after the devastating news surfaced. They continued their on-again, off-again relationship for the next few years until, according to the Daily Mail, the couple finally tied the knot in a traditional ‘Baci » marriage ceremony in southeast Asia; however, this wasn’t actually legally binding in the UK. The pair was allegedly planning a bohemian-style « secret summer wedding » in Gloucestershire and a possible second wedding in New York. Miller reportedly tapped her sister’s talents to design the dress, but it all fell apart in 2011 when the couple ended their romance for the last time.
Despite the split, Miller revealed in a 2016 issue of Porter (via E! News) that she still cares about her former flame « enormously. »
No point saving the date for Demi Moore’s wedding
Today, most of us know Demi Moore from her highly publicized divorce from That ’70s Show star Ashton Kutcher, but, back in the ’80s, the starlet was a runaway bride. Moore fell in love with Emilio Estevez on the set of the 1985 Brat Pack flick St. Elmo’s Fire. She later admitted to Vanity Fair that « there was a definite connection right away, » and she considered the star her « first love » (forget about her first husband). The couple dated for three years, but Moore never made it down the aisle. They went as far as mailing out their wedding invitations before she called it quits. Estevez was reportedly « devastated. »
« Emilio and I were at two different junctures in our internal lives, » she told Vanity Fair. « Emilio’s focus was more work-oriented. There were certain things that he, at his age, wasn’t interested in. Ending it was not saying ‘You’re a real a**hole, that’s why I’m leaving.’ It was ‘Wow, I really love you so much, but it’s not right, is it?’ It was the most mature step I could’ve made. »
According to HuffPost, Moore began dating actor Bruce Willis, whom she later married in 1987, the same year she split with Estevez. Their relationship lasted through the first three Die Hard flicks before they divorced.
This hockey player’s breakup was ice cold
Model Rachel Hunter already had one wedding under her belt when she planned to tie the knot with NHL player Jarret Stoll. The New Zealand native married Rod Stewart when she was 21 years old, but, according to the New York Post, she walked out on the British rocker in 1999. This time around, however, her husband-to-be was the one who called it quits.
According to the Daily Mail, Hunter had spent a year planning her second wedding. The guest list was sorted and stacked with A-listers like Michelle Pfeiffer and Sharon Stone. The venue — a northern California hotel with an ocean view — had already been booked. She inked a six-figure deal « with a celebrity magazine » to detail her big day. She even planned some cheeky, dessert-themed jokes for a speech she wanted to give her guests. Then, Stroll allegedly called the whole thing off and announced the cancellation in an email sent to their 200 guests. He reportedly didn’t give Hunter a reason for the change of heart.
These House co-stars’ engagement flatlined
Jesse Spencer and Jennifer Morrison were a driving force behind the success of Hugh Laurie’s hit drama House. It shouldn’t be shocking that the on-screen couple also saw sparks fly behind the scenes. Unfortunately, their relationship had a major problem that even Dr. House couldn’t cure.
According to InStyle Weddings (via People), Spencer had tried to propose for a whopping six months — trying first in Costa Rica, but Morrison was sick. So, he planned to pop the question in Big Sur, but it was too cold. He finally got down on one knee at the top of the Eiffel Tower and asked Morrison to marry him en Français in 2007. Morrison said yes, and the pair planned to wed that same year. The guest list was set at 200 people, a tent at a private L.A. estate was booked for the reception, and Morrison purchased her empire-waist Elie Saab wedding dress. Then, it fell apart mere months before the couple planned to say « I Do. » The pair, who had been together for three years, released a joint statement announcing the split.
According to The Herald Sun, the breakup was as heartbreaking as it was embarrassing for Spencer. Morrison had a feature on a « leading US weddings magazine » where she posed in her bridal gown, and the pair still had to tough it through kissing scenes on House.
Janine Turner credits her cancelled wedding for her sobriety
Janine Turner was 20 years old when she met Alec Baldwin at an audition. Though she didn’t get the part, she did get the man. In an episode of Oprah: Where Are They Now? (via HuffPost), the former General Hospital actress admitted she didn’t get the role because Baldwin couldn’t concentrate with her in the room. The pair later got engaged and planned a traditional church wedding, but they never ended up tying the knot. « We had the dress, the invitations, the church, everything, » she said (via HuffPost). « And then we called it off. Mutually called it off. »
Turner admitted she was devastated over the split, but she ultimately knew their relationship was « wrong » and unhealthy. In fact, their breakup sparked in her a newfound sobriety. The Northern Exposure star realized she had an alcohol problem, and she followed the couple’s cancelled nuptials with some visits to Alcoholics Anonymous. Turner eventually got sober two years later.
Fortunately, she remembers her time with Baldwin fondly. In 2015, she posted a #ThrowbackThursday of the former couple’s engagement photo.
Third time’s not the charm for this Teen Mom star
Bristol Palin hasn’t really been lucky in love — such are the pains of being young and in the spotlight. The daughter of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin almost walked down the aisle three times — twice with ex-fiancé and baby daddy Levi Johnston and then with U.S. Marine Dakota Meyer — but she never made it all the way.
In 2015, Bristol was a runaway bride, at least according to Radar Online. The Teen Mom star found herself entangled in a whirlwind romance that quickly became tabloid fodder. Bristol got engaged to Meyer in March 2015, and she planned to marry the Medal of Honor recipient in Kentucky two months later, as tabloids buzzed with rumors that Meyer was hiding a secret wife. The Palins were quick to shoot down the headlines, claiming Meyer was legally divorced and open about his past relationships, but, when wedding bells should have been ringing, fans heard crickets.
Days after the nuptials were meant to take place, Bristol finally made a public statement. « I guess you have seen by now that the wedding — that was supposed to happen last weekend — was called off, » the celeb said (via Radar). « I’m sure you’ve seen this has been all over the media, but this is a painful time for family and friends and I would just really appreciate your prayers. »