Even in the unpredictable, topsy-turvy world of celebrity, it was a break-up that few saw coming. Despite throwing a lavish engagement party in London in March, Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding has called off her marriage to Tom Crane just nine months after getting engaged.
Earlier this month, Sarah left the set of her latest film, Run For Your Wife, for Ibiza, where DJ Crane has been spinning discs all summer. The two tried to salvage their relationship, to little avail. It's not the first time the pair have split -- they took a week-long break in June 2008 -- but insiders are adamant that there is 'no way back' from their latest bust-up.
It's a far cry from weeks past, where Harding was excitedly planning the minutiae of her big wedding bash: "I want everything to be dark, the decoration on the tables and everything," she enthused earlier this year to Hello! "Tom wants something more traditional but I want to show a bit of my dark side. I would love to have it in a Gothic castle."
While the couple's future hangs in the balance, they certainly aren't the first altar-bound pair to stage a dramatic volte-face ahead of their big day. EastEnders star Jessie Wallace's recent tale of near-marital woe puts Harding in the ha'penny place.
Not even the most seasoned EastEnders scriptwriter could have cooked up the ignominy that the soap actress endured earlier this month. As guests were arriving to Jessie's wedding to Vince Morse, it was revealed that the groom had sent saucy pics to an ex-girlfriend. The damning text was exposed in a newspaper, prompting Jessie to dump her man hours before they were due to say 'I do'. Vince then revealed that he thought Jessie had had cold feet for the past month but the text had 'tipped her over the edge'.
Meanwhile, the drama continued, with the couple reportedly fighting over the artefacts of their big day: Jessie had €4,000 worth of wedding flowers delivered back to her home, while a newspaper reported that she wanted to 'watch them die' like her love. A battle also ensued over who should keep the €20,000 worth of wedding champagne bought, as Jessie fled to Crete -- the scene of their ostensible honeymoon.
Ever the showbiz maven, Jessie put on a brave face and made a public appearance on what should have been her wedding day.
While the public appears to be subjected to a seemingly endless stream of celebrity wedding shots, spare a thought for those celebrities who never make it to the pages of OK! In fact, Hollywood history is littered with unfortunates whose big day turned out to be a last-minute disaster. Not even fame, beauty nor fortune can render you impervious to love's slings and arrows. And, as many jiltees prove, there is indeed life after a broken engagement.
Famously, Julia Roberts fled to Ireland in 1991 when she broke up with Kiefer Sutherland just three days before the big day. The wedding was due to take place on Soundstage 14 at 20th Century Fox Studios, but proving that she wasn't cut out for a run-of-the-mill Hollywood union, Roberts headed to Dublin with Sutherland's best mate Jason Patric in tow. In the years since, Kiefer has remained pragmatic about the episode: "I commend Julia for seeing how young and silly we were, even as painful and difficult as it was," he said in an interview.
Curiously enough, Sutherland and Patric also kissed and made up, starring together in the Broadway play The Championship Season together earlier this year.
Elsewhere, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez made for a rather incongruous couple, yet Hollywood was besotted with the pairing. Few were surprised when Jen started sporting a 6.1 carat pink diamond ring in 2003. The two set the date for September 2003, but they never made it up the aisle, Affleck reportedly getting cold feet before the big day.
"I don't think I've ever been heartbroken in that way before -- I had so many hopes and dreams on something," Lopez said at the time. A year later however, she married (and has since split from) singer Marc Anthony and went on to have twins Emme and Max, now three.
Before she became one half of TomKat, Katie Holmes was destined for marriage to an actor a little lower down the food chain. After five years with American Pie actor Chris Klein, Katie was once again a single girl in 2005. Only weeks after the engagement was called off, Katie was spotted in public with Tom Cruise; three months after her break-up with Klein, came the Eiffel Tower proposal and that infamous Oprah couch-surfing moment.
In fact, there are others who have bounced back from an engagement break-up in similarly impressive style. Cyclist and cancer campaigner Lance Armstrong began seeing singer Sheryl Crow in 2003, and they announced their engagement two years later. A year later, the pair were no more.
"She wanted marriage, she wanted children; and, not that I didn't want that, but I didn't want that at that time," Armstrong said in 2009. Armstrong proved no slouch in the romance department however, swiftly moving on to actress Kate Hudson in 2008. After their ill-fated romance, he announced that he was to become a father again with new girlfriend Anna Hansen.
Not even the most noted playboy of them all, Hugh Hefner, escaped nuptial dramas. Earlier this year, the 85-year-old announced on Twitter that he had broken up with fiancee Crystal Harris. Harris had famously managed to go where few girlfriends or playmates had gone before; she'd gotten a proposal out of the most affirmed bachelor of them all. Yet Hef's tweet, posted three days before their televised wedding was due to take place, said it all: "The wedding is off. Crystal has had a change of heart."
However, it sounds like Hef may have had a lucky escape; Harris promptly spilled details of their sex life to a tabloid newspaper before repairing to Las Vegas with a 'mystery man'. For his part, Hef's got a new 'No 1 lady', Playboy's Miss January 2011 Anna Sophia Berglund.
As to who the next celebrity couple to hit the skids might turn out to be, the smart money says that Simon Cowell might just be next in line. On a recent radio interview, the pop mogul admitted that he didn't know if he was still engaged to his fiancee of 18 months, Mezghan Hussainy.
Rather tellingly. Cowell spoke on air of their betrothal in the past tense. Here's hoping they haven't ordered the flowers or champagne yet.