I Called Off My Wedding and Moved Out — What I Did After Changed Everything

published Feb 14, 2024
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I Called Off My Wedding. Then, I Designed the Apartment of My Dreams
Credit: Photo: Shutterstock; Design: Apartment Therapy

I had picked out the dress and the florals, and planned every detail of the wedding down to the place cards. It was March 2022 and I couldn’t wait to walk down the aisle and say “I do” to my fiancé, the man I’d been with for two-and-a-half years and shared a home with. Then one day, seemingly out of the blue, he came home and told me he didn’t think we should get married.

It was just eight months until our wedding, and I was shocked. We had been having some problems, like most couples, and the logistics of wedding planning added an extra layer of stress to our lives, although nothing we’d talked about seriously.

But, sitting at our glass dining room table, he told me for the first time about some surprising hopes he had for our marriage, which just didn’t align with my values. As we talked, the future I thought we’d share and the home we built together felt like they were crumbling down around me. When the conversation ended and he left to take a drive, I sat alone on the polished concrete floor in complete anguish and confusion, realizing how cold our home now felt.

When I first moved in with him, the place was so bare that I brought pillows, throws, and everything I could think of to cozy up the white walls and gray floors. But even before things went downhill between us, the condo he owned always felt more like his than mine — or ours. In the days after we called off the wedding, I couldn’t stand to be in our home anymore — as he grew more cold and distant, so did the condo we’d shared. It felt so empty without our love filling up the space. 

While he fled to Italy (somewhere we had talked about honeymooning) with his friend, I was left to figure out my next steps alone. The first step, I realized, was finding somewhere new to live — somewhere that didn’t remind me of a lost love. I turned to Zillow, scouring the listings for an affordable, cute, one-bedroom apartment in a central location. Finding all that seemed all but impossible, and even as I toured a few promising apartments, nothing felt just right.

Credit: Julia Parzyck

Then, late one night, I came upon my dream spot: A charming 1905, loft-style one-bedroom apartment in downtown Denver. It had exposed brick, a feature I’d always coveted, and a balcony that happened to overlook my favorite park. It had exactly the kind of cozy bones I was looking for, in contrast to the concrete spareness of the contemporary condo my fiancé and I had shared. I instantly knew it was going to be my new home — the perfect place to process my grief, foster my independence, and start to heal. 

I moved in at the end of July 2022, carrying heavy boxes up to the loft by myself. I was starting fresh. Alongside the anxiety of moving, I felt a glimmer of hope as I started visualizing what I wanted my new home to feel like — warm, inviting, and full of creativity and color —  and how I wanted to feel in it. Joy was the goal. 

Credit: Julia Parzyck

I started by designing the downstairs area, which I knew I wanted to have an eclectic, bohemian look, filled with things I’d thrifted, ambient lighting, and an array of plants, colors, and textures. One of the last items I added was a big dried flower arrangement hung on the wall behind my couch like art. When I picked it out, I realized it looked a lot like the florals I had wanted for our wedding — although now their beauty was something that was just for me. It was a small piece of decor, but huge for helping me reclaim something I loved without having a painful memory attached to it. Decorating the space helped me reconnect with my personal style and, ever so slowly, myself, as I woke up each morning to new beginnings in a home that felt safe and warm.

Credit: Julia Parzyck

But there was still more to reclaim, both physically and emotionally. The boxes and belongings from my last home were weighing on me so heavily that I largely avoided the space for a whole year. I struggle with ADHD, and my loft was where all my doom piles were living. Everything I avoided putting away had piled up, and whenever I tried to organize them I’d find myself overwhelmed with grief. But the towers of miscellaneous things were getting in the way of what I knew I wanted the space upstairs to be: A secluded work area that allowed me to step away from my cozy living space and get creative. I work in fashion and inclusive styling, so I pictured making a portion of my loft into an open closet with all of my colorful clothes on display. 

So I decided to give myself a deadline. I needed to unpack my boxes — and any lingering painful feelings I was avoiding — and move into my loft by the end of 2023. When I finally did, I could feel the space becoming more and more mine and in service of my new life and joy. Folding up the last of the boxes, I knew I had unpacked more than just my things. I’d finally fully processed the loss and my way forward. Building a new space to call home, one item at a time, helped me work through a painful period in my life.

Credit: Julia Parzyck

When I go up into my loft, it feels like the perfect space to be creative — something I needed more than ever during this transition. Feeling inspired immediately post-breakup was so difficult to imagine — especially before I had a place for my personal style to live. But now, I live in an apartment with twinkle lights strung around, body-positive art hung on the walls, and my colorful wardrobe on display.

When I’m at home, I take pride in the space I’ve created and I’m thankful that it has given me the room to heal in so many different ways. Almost two years later, I’m so grateful that the wedding didn’t happen — it wasn’t easy, but it led me to a new home, which truly gave me the gift of a fresh start. Starting fresh let me figure out what I wanted my space to say and how I wanted to feel in a home of my own and as someone who was newly single.