The last thing any bride planning a wedding wants to think about is calling it off, whether it's because an emergency circumstance requires that you change the date, or the two of you have decided getting married isn't the best idea. But it does occasionally happen, so it's better to be safe than sorry! We asked our experts for some insight into what you should do if you do decide to call off your wedding.
There are two sides to canceling a wedding, the emotional and the logistical, and both require sensitivity — as well as a brave face.
The first thing to do is to let your guests know that the wedding won't be taking place as planned. "Send out a mass email, or mail a short postcard to everyone letting them know," says Dr. Jane Greer, New York-based marriage and sex therapist and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. "If you're going to get married eventually, the note should read that the wedding has been postponed. Otherwise, let them know succinctly that it has been canceled." That's the "what", but do you have to give a "why?" "An explanation isn't required. It's a personal decision," says Dr. Greer. Of course, depending on your comfort level, you can share with people who ask about it in person, but otherwise you have every right to say you'd rather not discuss it.
As for the logistics, begin by making a list of everything that needs to be done, and divvy it up between the two of you based on who handled it before (and who has a relationship with the vendor). "For example, if you booked the band, you cancel the band," Dr. Greer explains. "If there's a lot of tension between the two of you, you can limit your communication to email only. Complete the process in as structured, organized, and business-like a manner as possible."
Adds Jodi Moraru, president and lead wedding planner of Evoke, "The un-planning of a wedding is an emotionally difficult situation. Lean on your planner to help you work with your vendors." Be sure to read through your contracts to familiarize yourself with vendors' cancellation policies. "If you're postponing the wedding, you may recoup some costs by rebooking at a later date. In other cases you might lose your deposit but get a refund on any additional payments you've made or, if you're very close to the wedding date, you could lose everything you've paid so far."
Most vendors are incredibly sensitive to the situation and will do their best to accommodate you, but keep them in the business mindset and try not to let your emotions get in the way. If a vendor can't stray from the contract, remember that you accepted the terms when you signed, and take what you can get. "Don't forget that vendors have also taken time to prepare for your event and have your date saved on their calendars, which precludes them from booking any other business on that day," Moraru explains.