Wording & Etiquette for Postponing or Canceling Your Wedding (and Real Life Advice From Two People Who Have)

Oh, this is such a tough subject. However, we at Hitch Studio understand that life happens, and for whatever reason if you find yourself in this situation, we want you to be prepared and supported. Your family, your friends…we all want whatever is best for you!

Before we dive into the logistics, here is some real life advice from a guy friend of mine who called off his engagement. It makes me want to hug him every time I read it.

“Getting engaged is to this point one of the most exciting things I have ever had happen in my life, but when the engagement failed, it was one of the hardest things I’ve yet to go through. On top of all of the heartbreak of dealing with what is happening, there is a sense of embarrassment and worrying of how people are going to judge you when they hear the news.

The hardest part of it for me was telling my parents. I took a couple of days to myself to try and collect my thoughts, and once I made the call I realized I had made a huge mistake in waiting as long as I did. I immediately felt an overwhelming amount of support and love, and even though I was extremely low, it helped prop me up and keep me going. That’s what family is all about, and if you think they are going to be ashamed or think less of you, you’re wrong. They’re going to show you love and support that makes you feel lucky to call them family.

From my own experience, I didn’t want to deal with any of it. I didn’t want to make the phone calls to cancel services, I didn’t want to tell friends, but I knew I had to. As much as I felt like I was some crazy outsider this was happening to, I wasn’t. Looking back, I can see that by no means was I the first person this has happened to and I’m in no way going to be the last.

It took me about a week, and I wish I would have made my calls and sent my e-mails to all the wedding services sooner, but once I got through it, it felt like a weight was starting to lift off my shoulders. All of them were extremely pleasant and understanding and who knows, by being proactive with my cancellations I may have gave another couple a chance to book that perfect photographer or DJ. Yeah, I lost my deposits, but looking back I’m glad that’s the worst that came out of it.

If you’re unlucky enough to be going through cancelling your own wedding, just know that you’re not alone and that there are a lot of people who love you. One of the things I would tell myself while going through all of this is that yes, I was extremely happy and loved the girl I was engaged to, but at the end of the day it wasn’t a right fit. If I could feel that happy with someone that wasn’t right for me, I can’t wait to see how amazing it feels to be with the person I’m supposed to be with.”  ~Anonymous

We know this is going to be one of the hardest and emotional things about cancelling your wedding. The first question that people will ask is “Why”? Well, there could be many different reasons: lack of funds to fulfill your big day, illness, or either the bride or groom is not ready for the big commitment marriage brings. Whether one of the previous reasons causes you to postpone or cancel your big day, we hope that these tips will be useful as you try to navigate this bump in the road to your happily ever after.

ETIQUETTE FOR POSTPONING YOUR WEDDING 

Notify Family & Friends ASAP 

  • Promptly contact the entire wedding party — and don’t be embarrassed. Postponement happens more than you think.
    • You will want to make sure that the new wedding date works for the wedding party; they are excited to be apart of your day!
  • Simply telling friends and family will suffice if you haven’t already sent out any type of formal invitation or save-the-date.
  • If your wedding date has been formally announced it is best to send out a printed card that concisely explains the reason for postponing:
    • “due to an illness in the immediate family of the bride”
    • “due to a death in the family of the groom”
  • If you are sending out a printed card and know the new wedding date, make sure to include this so guests can save the date.
    • Example from Weddings Expert, Nina Callaway:
      • “Mr. and Mrs. Jeffery Scott
        announce that the wedding of their daughter
        Miss Anne Scott
        to
        Mr. Kamau Thomas
        which was postponed, will now take place
        on December 20, 2004 at the Scranton Club.”
  • Communicating your postponed wedding is especially important because many family and friends will need to cancel previous travel arrangements like hotel accommodations and flights (many of which have deadlines for refunds).

Contact Vendors & Venue 

  • Make sure to review your venue and vendor contracts regarding postponing your wedding date.
  • Often times many will gladly move your date with no penalty as long as they are available.
  • Don’t forget about adjusting your vendor meetings, dress fittings, and other details to accommodate your new date!

ETIQUETTE FOR CANCELING YOUR WEDDING 

Letting Guests Know & Explaining Cancellation 

  • Just like if you are postponing your wedding date and formal announcements have been made – you should send out a printed card. We understand this is a very difficult time, but being proactive and honest will help in the long run.
    • Example from Weddings Expert, Nina Callaway:
      • Mr. and Mrs. Jeffery Scott
        Announce that the marriage of their daughter
        Anne Scott
        To
        Kamau Thomas
        Will not take place as scheduled.
  • It is also strongly suggested that if invitations have been sent out, you should call each guest notifying them of the cancellation.
    • When calling you are not expected or required to explain the details of your cancellation. You can simply state that it was a mutual decision to not marry at this time. (“We’ve decide to take different paths in life and are choosing to not get married.”
    • You can also divide and conquer this difficult task! Split up calling between your partner, bridal party, and other supporters.
  • Don’t forget to lean on your support system during this time. In the end, love conquers all and you will get through this with the most important people by your side!

Notify Vendors & Venue 

  • If you opted for wedding insurance, make sure to check with your carrier to see what money can be refunded or saved. However, unfortunately wedding insurance does not cover cold feet, but it does take care of a death in the family, illness, or other major events.
  • You will want to contact vendors ASAP both via phone and in writing so there is documentation.
    • Review contracts with the venue and vendors so you are aware of cancellation policies and any possibility of you receiving a portion of your deposits back.
      • The closer to your actual wedding date, the less money you will be entitled to receive back (if any).
      • Always cancel in writing too, so you’re not billed for more than you already have been.

Don’t Forget to Cancel Your Honeymoon 

  • I know. It’s a dreaded thought to cancel your dream vacation after your dream day, but if you’re proactive in doing so it may save you some money in the end.
    • Any opportunity to save money or be refunded on airfare or other honeymoon expenses depends on the kind of tickets you purchased and the cancellation policies of the companies the tickets were purchased through.
  • If you purchased trip insurance for your honeymoon it will only cover cancellation due to illness, natural disaster, or another major event.
  • Depending on the circumstances, take the trip yourself! 🙂  Can you bring a friend?!

What About Canceling My Dream Dress? 

  • Unfortunately, if your dress was special-ordered or customized just for you, you may not be eligible for a refund of any kind.
    • Contact the maker of your dress for alternative options like stopping production if early enough for partial refund, selling your dress at a sample sale, consignment shop, or donating to charity.

How to Proceed With Gifts 

  • Although it will be difficult and a sad reminder of why your day is being cancelled, it is best to return all gifts acquired thus far (engagement, shower, wedding) to the person who gave it to you.
    • Make sure to include a note with the returned gift thanking them.
  • Some gifts, like linens and kitchen utensils, you may have already started using. In this case, keep them, but still send a note of thanks.

Engagement Ring? 

  • When it comes to your engagement ring there are a few options depending on the circumstances:
    • If the ring is a family heirloom it should be safely returned to the family that it is an heirloom of no matter what.
    • In the situation that the receiver of the ring cancelled the wedding, then the ring should go back to the giver.
    • If visa versa, the receiver can keep, sell, or return the ring to the giver (all is fair in love & war).
    • If you and your partner bought the ring together then you should decide together what to do with the ring. This is true for any other property or belongings you bought jointly.

I wanted to end this blog with words of encouragement from another great friend of mine. She’s a strong, beautiful and courageous woman who called off her engagement. She wanted to reflect on it and share this with you:

Mhmmm breaking of an engagement…Well first of all, nobody plans to break off an engagement. It isn’t a typical step in someones life they think they will someday need to navigate. It doesn’t come with a etiquette book, it doesn’t come with a financial advisor, and you aren’t provided a check list of the “do’s and don’ts” of breaking off an engagement.

By the time our engagement was broke off we had the colors, decor, dress, food, transportation, an almost complete guest list, venue and church picked out. Deposits were down.

With so many other people involved, it was a very difficult decision to make. Perhaps one of the most difficult decisions one makes in their life. The thought of disappointing so many others came to my mind, and of course first and foremost, the person I had said yes to forever with.

If I were going to give advice out to others going through a similar situation, I would say don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether you think you need it or not. You don’t need to feel alone. Reach out to friends and family who care about you. Ask to talk to someone at your church or a counselor. I made the mistake of being too proud to ask for a willing ear to listen.  ~Anonymous

Whether you’re postponing or canceling your happily ever after, we understand it will never be easy. However, we hope that these tips will assist you along the way and make it a little less painful (if that is even possible). Can we send hugs through a blog? No matter what, just remember to lean on those who love and support you and you will overcome this and become stronger in doing so!

“She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible. She walked with the Universe on her shoulders and made it look like a pair of wings.”
― Ariana Dancu

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