Kyle Paxman's wedding fell apart six weeks before it was supposed to take place.

Awful things happen to many of us on different levels every single day. We all hope that when the time comes we can react the right way—the way we fantasize that we would—seeing the good in everything and turning a negative experience into something positive.

"The dress had arrived, the flowers were done, the menus were chosen," said Ms. Paxman, manager of two food and beverage outlets at La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California. "One hundred and eighty guests had tickets from all over the country and the Virgin Islands to come and make a weekend of my wedding."

But rather than cancel the reception, Ms. Paxman, 29, turned it into a charity benefit. "How do you turn something so awful around?" she asked. "We needed to turn this into something positive and start the healing process."

Right after getting the bad news, Ms. Paxman's mother began canceling reservations and events; but she learned that the family was still on the hook for the reception costs, a block of rooms in a hotel and other expenses.

"We had already spent the money, and I started trying to think of other ways we might be able to put the things we'd bought to use," she said.

Ms. Paxman and her parents have invited 125 women to enjoy cocktails and a four-course dinner and, in return, she hopes they will write checks to two charities she has chosen.

"If you think about it, she's not only empowering herself, she's reaching out and helping to empower other women," said Bibiana Betancourt, a fund-raising executive. She said Ms. Paxman's plans were the most unusual she had encountered in her seven years raising money.

Kyle Paxman said she did not know whether her former fiancé, whom she declined to name, knew what she was doing.

"It's going to be hard, of course," she said of appearing before her guests. "But the end of my story now isn't so awful."

I learned two incredible lessons from the "Jilted Bride." One is that one can make lemonade out of lemons. The charities that will benefit from the cancelled wedding will be eternally grateful that Kyle Paxman decided to get up, brush herself off and move on—using this horrible experience to create something good.

And the second, in my opinion the even more valuable lesson, is that a person can get through something traumatic like a broken engagement and still remain strong and hold onto their class. Kyle Paxman had every reason to join the ranks of other people who gripe, complain about and denounce those who have wronged them, yet she refused to name the groom. I believe she realized that making him look bad is not going to achieve anything positive for herself or for anyone else. Now that's a strength!