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Lady Gaga made the news earlier this summer when she called off her engagement to Taylor Kinney. But cancelling a wedding is not just a Hollywood thing. Research from The Wedding Report estimates about 13 percent of engaged couples never make it down the aisle. So, what exactly are you supposed to do when you decide he's actually not the one? Coming to that heartbreaking conclusion is difficult enough, but then there's the un-planning of the wedding you may have already spent months working on. Here's how to handle the logistical side of breaking off your engagement.
1. Make a game plan with your ex-fiancé.
Put a pause on the emotional rollercoaster you've both likely been on and sit down ready to make decisions. Outline everything that needs to be done, starting with the ideas listed below. Divvy up the duties between the two of you so the overwhelming number of to-dos doesn't fall on one person.
2. Notify guests.
You will want to notify guests as soon as possible so they can cancel travel plans and halt gift buying. Dedicate one spokesperson from your family — maybe your sister or your dad — and one from his. Ask each spokesperson to reach out to guests on their side and let them know the wedding has been cancelled. Whether you share more details is up to you, but having another family member shield the questions of "why?" will be a giant weight off of your shoulders.
3. Alert vendors.
Next, reach out to all of the vendors who have signed on for the big day — the caterer, venue, photographer, videographer, florist, band, makeup artist, and whoever else. If you have a wedding planner, ask him or her to help you spread the news. The sooner vendors are notified, the more likely it is that you will be able to recover some money. You'll likely already have forked over thousands of dollars in deposits, but you may be able to avoid making final payments.
4. Consider selling your wedding and honeymoon.
If you're too close to the wedding date to recover any funds from your vendors, you might consider putting your already-planned wedding or honeymoon on CanceledWeddings.com. You send them your wedding date, costs you've invested so far, a list of vendors you're working with, and the number of guests you were expecting. They then offer the honeymoon or prepackaged wedding to flexible engaged couples that are looking for a great deal. The new couple can then take over any bills that are left to be paid, though the site won't reimburse all of the payments you've already made.
5. Pack up and return gifts.
First, cancel your wedding registry, and then look back at a log of what you received for your engagement, wedding shower, and any early wedding gifts. Ideally, the gifts will still be in their original packaging. Ship them back to the family or friend who sent them, along with a brief note thanking them for the gift and for their support.
6. Decide who keeps the ring.
Who ends up with the bling will vary from couple to couple. If it was an heirloom from your or his family, it should go back to that person, and if you were the one who broke it off, it may make the most sense to give the ring back to him. Outside of those situations, there's a lot of wriggle room, so it's up to you and your ex to determine the best course of action.