The Wedding's Off! Now What? How to Cancel Your Wedding
The Wedding's Off! Now What? By Laura Firenze
While not an everyday occurrence, we all know that not all proposals end with a marriage. If a couple has made the difficult decision to break off their engagement, there are more steps that need to follow.
This is a list of things that must be done in the event of a canceled wedding.
1. Notify your family and the wedding party.
If the bride already gave her attendants gifts like wedding jewelry, they should be allowed to keep them. In the case that the bride is too distraught to call up each of her bridesmaids to break the bad news, her maid of honor could take over the task.
In times of emotional distress practicalities may not be first on the mind, but when a wedding is canceled, they must be handled promptly.
2. All vendors should be contacted
Ideally they should be contacted by the bride, her mother, or the wedding planner as soon as possible to inform them of the canceled wedding. The sooner this is done, the better the chance that you will get back some of your deposits, or that you will at least be off the hook for balances.
Most contracts will specify that all deposits are forfeit if services are canceled, however, there may be some leeway if the vendor is able to rebook for your wedding date.
Most bridal salons are unable to refund deposits once a gown has been ordered. If you have already paid for your gown in full, the chances are that you own it; few salons accept returns.
When only a partial deposit has been made, your options will typically be to forfeit the deposit and let the salon keep the gown or pay the balance and pick up the wedding dress.
While you will not recover your entire investment, you may well be able to sell the wedding gown to a bargain-hunting bride. Or you can pack the gown away for a future wedding, whether it is yours or that of a friend in need of a wedding dress.
If the bridesmaids have already purchased their dresses before the wedding is canceled, it is only fair to reimburse them for the cost.
Then there is the age-old question of wedding jewelry...when a wedding is called off, must the woman return the ring? Etiquette says that if the man ended the engagement (or if it was ended due to his behavior), that the woman keeps the ring.
On the other hand, if it was the bride who got cold feet, she should definitely return his engagement ring. If the ring was a family heirloom from the groom's side, it should be returned regardless of who called off the wedding.
As soon as it is practical, an announcement should be sent out informing all invited guests that the wedding has been canceled (if the guest list was very small, a personal phone call would also work).
Any wedding or shower gifts that may have been received should be returned promptly, along with a brief note of appreciation for the thoughtfulness of the donor. While regular thank-you notes should always be written by the bride or groom, in the case of a broken engagement, it would be acceptable for the mother of the bride to take on the task if her daughter is too upset.
Dealing with the aftermath of a canceled wedding is never fun, but in the end it is certainly better than living with an ill-fated marriage.
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