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December 17, 2021

Who pays when there's a Runaway Bride/Groom?

Somehow, over the years, runaway brides have become a kind of guilty obsession for the general public.

975584_broken_heart It’s why Julia Roberts made a movie about one, and why the real-life version – that Jennifer Wilbanks woman who bailed on her wedding and went missing in 2005 – become an almost C-list celebrity during her 15 minutes in the light.

Yet what no one discusses with stories like these is, What happens to the poor schlub left on the altar? Who pays for the wedding that’s being, well, run away from?

Such a debate found its way into North American consciousness this week when news hit that a Chicago woman is suing her ex-fiancé for his last-minute wedding bailout.

Dominique Buttitta has filed suit for $100,000 in wedding expenses she alleges her husband-to-be, Vito Salerno, left her on the hook for: $30,000 for the banquet hall; more than $11,000 for flowers; $10,000 for an orchestra; $5,000 for her gown; $600 for wedding shoes; and - wouldn't you know it? - $70.40 for cancellation notes she had to send to the union-to-be’s guest list.

Big bill, sure, yet what’s most intriguing about the failed marriage is what chance, if any, Buttitta has of recouping her losses.

The key facts: the Runaway Groom, in this case, allegedly blew off the wedding just four days before it was supposed to happen this fall. The blame may eventually fall on him, as he’s been accused of engaging in “flirtatious and amorous acts” with strippers at his bachelor party, which is the supposed reason the couple broke up.

Though, will that blame lead to a legal obligation to pay? A hundred grand seems to be the whole enchilada, and – even if a judge rules Salerno is totally in the wrong – why should he be forced to pay more than 50 per cent of the bill?

Certainly, commenters on the Chicago Sun-Times story about the Runaway Groom side with Salerno (“Good for you, Vito!” writes one and “RUN VITO, RUUNNNnnnnnnnnn!!!” notes another) but that’s with this case alone.

Generally, who do you think should foot the bill for last-minute wedding cancellations – the deserted, the deserter or is a 50/50 split most fair?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...