After the hectic business of wedding planning and the whirlwind of the big day, there’s perhaps nothing a pair of newlyweds look forward to more than the honeymoon. Relaxation, tropical cocktails and, of course, romance often abound on the first vacation a married couple takes together, after all. But not every honeymoon goes as planned.
And John Whitbread’s honeymoon was unusual in more ways than one. For a start, he didn’t meet the woman with whom he’d be honeymooning until he arrived at the airport with his luggage and passport in hand.
Prior to his unconventional vacation, though, Whitbread seemed like every other groom-to-be. During the 2014 Christmas period, moreover, he and his fiancée Amy were just six weeks away from their planned Valentine’s Day wedding and subsequent honeymoon. Then, however, Amy suddenly walked away from the relationship.
And Whitbread, a 32-year-old from Leicestershire in the U.K., could hardly believe his ex’s decision. He even admitted to The Mirror that he was, unsurprisingly, “a bit of a mess” after the unceremonious dumping. And not only would he have to cancel all of the wedding arrangements, but the honeymoon would also be a no-go as well.
Unfortunately, though, he found out that there was some fine print attached to the latter. You see, he would only be able to get half of the money he paid back as a refund for the canceled honeymoon. And as the trip had a price tag of $2,600, Whitbread decided that he couldn’t just let the vacation pass him by.
Whitbread went on to explain the situation to the Daily Mail in January 2015. He said, “I was gutted when [my fiancée] said she didn’t want to get married, but I realized I couldn’t mope forever.” Whitbread added, “And I didn’t want what I’d already paid to the holiday to go to waste.”
However, he also knew that the two-week, all-inclusive trip to a Dominican Republic resort wouldn’t be the right place to go with one of his buddies. As he told the BBC in March 2015, it “didn’t really seem like a lads’ holiday.” Clearly, then, Whitbread was stuck between a rock and a hard place. That is, until he and his best friend, Craig Gibson, came up with a plan.
Specifically, they decided to auction off the second honeymoon ticket to the highest female bidder on eBay. They named the prize “#girlfromthepublictodominicanrepublic” and gave the journey the following teaser, “For sale full holiday package (with me). Adventure of a lifetime.” Whitbread also described the companion he sought as someone with a British passport who was an “easy, down-to-earth woman.”
And with that – and a description of Whitbread as “not boring” and having “sharp moves on the dance floor” – the auction went live. Bidders subsequently battled over the trip, which was scheduled to depart on February 16, 2015. Clearly, leaving the U.K. winter for sunshine was not a tough sell.
When the auction closed, then, Whitbread likely could not believe the top bid: nearly $11,000. But not all of the cash was going to the one-time groom, though, as he had planned to donate anything above $1,400 to a testicular cancer charity. As he told the Daily Mail, “People have said I’ve got real balls to do this, so I thought I might as well try and make some money for charity if I can.”
But the story didn’t end there. Unfortunately, the highest bidder never paid up for their half of the ticket. Whitbread then decided to take the second-highest bidder, but that person, too, failed to come up with the money. The honeymoon, once again, appeared to be doomed.
Whitbread wasn’t ready to give up just yet, though. And, as a result, he came up with yet another plan to save his island getaway. Rather than auctioning off the ticket again, he sold $13 raffle tickets from which he’d randomly choose his winner. Again, he promised the additional money raised – $1,900 – to an organization called Balls To Cancer.
Perhaps even more exciting, though, was the fact that Whitbread would finally have a companion for his upcoming vacation. And the winner of the raffle was Kelly Wood, who had even mounted an online campaign in her quest for victory. Indeed, her Facebook page reads, “Help make Kelly’s dreams come true as she leads her campaign to become ‘Jilted John’s’ Caribbean Queen.”
It wasn’t Wood who had first dubbed Whitbread “Jilted John,” though. It was the general public who had caught on to his campaign and given him the nickname. And that epithet was to follow him all the way to the airport on February 16. On that date, moreover, he and his travel companion met for the first time on live TV.
Indeed, the TV show Good Morning Britain caught the pair’s initial encounter on camera at the airport. As Whitbread awaited Wood’s arrival, though, he was nervous about how to greet her. He wavered between a kiss, a hug or a high five; in the end, though, he decided to do “what [came] naturally.”
So, when Wood finally did arrive, the two hugged and then took part in some Newlywed Show-style questions on live TV. Wood even met Whitbread’s parents before they boarded their flight. And according to the Daily Mail, she said that she felt like a swan on that day – “fine on the surface, but paddling underneath.”
But, nervous or not, Wood hopped on board the flight with Whitbread, and the two headed off on their vacation. However, romance was the last thing on Whitbread’s mind. Or, at least, that’s what he said before they left for the Dominican Republic.
“I’m not looking for a relationship,” he said. “This could be an opportunity for someone who has never had the chance to take a holiday like this before. I’m not looking for anything apart from a fun holiday.” Some of those familiar with Whitbread’s journey hoped, though, that sparks would fly once the pair landed in the tropical paradise.
“We got off the plane and they knew who we were,” Whitbread told The Mirror. “We lived like celebrities for two weeks, it was just amazing. The whole experience was amazing.” He and Wood settled into their honeymoon suite, which was outfitted with twin beds for the unconventional travel partners.
But for both Wood and Whitbread, that was enough – no romance was necessary. The two did become “good friends” after their trip, though, according to Whitbread. And, fortunately, he’s also moved on and found a new love since his March 2015 vacation, leaving the name “Jilted John” behind him – hopefully for good.