Cancelling a wedding

What to do if the wedding is cancelled for any reason

When a couple decides to get married and starts planning their wedding with great excitement (booking the church and the reception site, choosing the caterers, writing the guest list, thinking about music, etc.), they do not usually think of the possibility that the long-awaited wedding may not actually happen.

And although we don’t want to suggest that you should even consider this possibility, it is certainly a good idea to be prepared or to be aware of what you should do in the event that you have to cancel your wedding for any reason. The main reason is usually a relationship break-up, but weddings are also cancelled due to illness or family circumstances.

Whatever the reasons, cancelling a wedding is very unpleasant for everyone involved and it can be very embarrassing. Here are some tips on what to do to survive this situation.

Coping with a break-up

Most modern couples who decide to get married do so because they are convinced that they have made the right decision, although the high separation and divorce rates in our society call into question whether many people are ready to take this major step.

Whatever the case may be, sometimes breaking up before the wedding actually takes place can be the best solution, although this doesn’t mean it won’t be painful, above all if one person makes the decision without consulting the other first.

But if we put the emotional aspects to one side for a moment, a cancellation means that you have to cancel contracts that have been signed and sealed for some time, so here are some practical recommendations that may be of use:

• Above all, you will need to look at what stage the wedding planning is at in order to know exactly which people and vendors need to be informed of the cancellation: have the save the date cards or invitations already been sent, has the deposit been paid for the flowers, has a contract been signed for the reception, has the honeymoon been booked, etc.

• Some plans could be cancelled with no problem, such as the photographer or the music, but in other areas such as the dress, you will probably lose all your money, or in the case of the wedding banquet, a large part of it. You should check the contracts that you have signed and check the cancellation clauses before handing over any deposits.

• When a wedding banquet is cancelled, a high percentage of the total cost of the event often cannot be returned; it is a good idea to contact the vendor and explain the situation to see whether it is possible for them to charge you less, above all if there is still time for them to secure another booking for another event on the same date.

The engagement ring

Returning the engagement ring is a very personal situation that is difficult to handle well: if the former groom-to-be is the one who has broken off the engagement, his fiancée is within her rights to keep the ring if she wants to and he should not demand that it is returned; if she is the one who decides to end the relationship, she will have to return the ring.

But if the cancellation is by mutual agreement, both should think about what to do with the ring and the gifts that have been received up to that point. It is recommended that everything is returned, in order to break any connections that could bring painful or distressing memories.

You will hopefully be able to sort it out between you, but if many things have already been bought for the new home, or if large sums of money have been given as gifts, there may be legal matters to bear in mind.

How do we tell our guests?

Telling guests that a wedding has been cancelled is perhaps one of the most difficult things a person ever has to do. In spite of this, try to do it in the best way for you that makes you feel less uncomfortable:

• Inform close friends and family personally or by telephone.

• If you haven’t sent out the invitations yet, it should be more than sufficient to tell people by word of mouth.

• If the wedding date is some time away, have some small cards made to inform people that the wedding has been cancelled. You don’t need to give long explanations, you simply need something like: “[Name] and [Name] inform you that their wedding has been cancelled. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and we would like to apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused.”

• If the wedding date is close, the couple should call each guest individually, although if there are many guests, you could enlist the help of family and close friends.

• If you have invited out-of-town guests, you should inform them immediately so that they can cancel reservations to travel to the wedding. Remember that it is not necessary to give any explanations about the cancellation. It is enough to politely tell people that the wedding will not be taking place.

Returning the gifts

As would be expected, if the wedding is not going to happen, you should return all engagement, shower, and wedding gifts to the guests, with a small card thanking them for their thoughtfulness and generosity, and apologizing for any inconvenience caused If you had signed up with a gift registry at a department store, speak to the manager so that he or she can find the best way to return the gifts to the guests and refund the cost of the gift.

After such a difficult moment, the ex-fiancées should dedicate time to themselves, trying to look ahead to the future, seeing life in a positive way and thinking that it was for the best, although they may not believe it at the time!

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