How to Handle a Last-Minute Emergency That Requires You to Cancel the Wedding

Etiquette, Planning Tips
last-minute emergency cancel wedding

Photo: Getty Images

Whether it's an emergency due to family, finances, unpredictable weather or a called-off engagement, a cancelled wedding is a stressful situation. Our experts help you handle it quickly and with grace.

Even though this is going to be one of the toughest situations you'll ever have to deal with, get ready to pick up the phone. Yes, you actually have to handle this the old-fashioned way because an email will not suffice. And no, test messages don't count. Your guests, who are hopefully your closest friends and family, have committed their energy into planning to attend your wedding. Whether or not that requires long-distance travel and time off work, it definitely means they are taking a break from their busy schedules to celebrate you, so they should receive the news as soon as possible. Ensuring everyone hears and understands that the wedding has been cancelled is the first priority, and you can't ensure they'll read an email, let alone receive it.

See More: How to Handle a Last-Minute Vendor Cancellation

Here's where the bridal party comes in handy. Split up the guest list so that the bride isn't calling everyone. The bride and groom can write up a short paragraph or few bullet points of what needs to be said and hand out copies to their bridesmaids and groomsmen with an accompanying list of names and numbers. As the bridal party delivers the message, they should make a point to speak to each person, and if there's no answer, leave a short voicemail with the details along with his or her own phone number to call with questions. The bridal party should do their best to protect the couple and not direct guests to the bride and groom. This way, the family can focus on sorting out logistics with vendors and fielding plenty of return calls from relatives. And after everyone has received the initial information, a 'please respect our privacy' email is totally appropriate.

Give a Subscription to Brides Magazine as a Gift

Get personalized planning advice, exclusive offers and must-read wedding news.

Thank You
for Signing Up!

Check your e-mail inbox for the latest updates from