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Wedding Tips & Advice

What to Do When You Need to Cancel Your Wedding

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Wow, it’s almost a year to the day that we wrote a post about cancelled engagements and how to deal (a la Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Becca Kufrin). Today, we figured it was as good a time as any to talk about a scenario even more upsetting than that: a cancelled wedding. Just saying that sends shivers down my spine, but let’s be real, not every ring, proposal, promise leads to a happily ever ever. I have divorced parents, I know that all too well.

Even though she’s had a ridiculously successful and life-will-never-be-the-same few months, Lady Gaga is currently wading through the fallout of her cancelled wedding - and it can’t be easy. Especially when you’re nixing nuptials at the same time your fans are shipping your relationship with Bradley Cooper reallllll hard. She isn’t the only one who’s gone #somethingcancelled status with their wedding this year, either. Brie Larson and Alex Greenwald called it quits in January, as well, after a two, almost 3-year engagement and five years of togetherness overall.

Granted, with their stars only continuing to rise, it’s hard to make the argument that these ladies are in bad shape - at least from a financial standpoint, the commitments they may have made to vendors likely could be easily resolved. But we won’t say that having celebrity eliminates all of the hardship, hardlyyyy. We’re sure these two have mourned their might-have-been marriages and grieved the break ups with their almost-grooms, this is what all humans deal with when love is lost - it’s universal and crushing.

And apparently it happens to 1 in 5 engagements before the wedding. In a survey commissioned by WP Diamonds (polling 1,000 people between the ages of 20 and 60 across the U.S.), 20 percent of all engagements are called off before the wedding. 😬😬😬

So, if you’re not one of Hollywood’s heavies right now, but you’ve recently agreed to cancel your wedding (or are in the midst of making such a major decision), we got some tips from the world’s best wedding planners, via Belief Wedding Planners, to help you out.

As the couple, you have a lot to navigate when it comes to wiping out your wedding plans - but if you can remember to handle things with vendors AND guests maturely and responsibly (in the most timely fashion), you’ll be looking good, we promise.

Be smart about the chain of communication.

Upon canceling your wedding, engaged couples should immediately proceed with notifying their wedding vendors in writing. The wedding planner (if the couple has one) should be the first vendor to be informed about the sad decision as he/she will generally help (as a part of her/his tasks) with informing all wedding professionals involved and make sure the business side of things is properly managed in such circumstances. Paid deposits are generally non-refundable. ~ Sandra Santoro, wedding planner of Gettingmarriedinitaly(r)

Don’t make assumptions.

Over how many decades have you heard these three words uttered together? When it comes to cancelling a wedding, they’re evermore appropriate. You should never assume that a refund will be received or that any owed balances will be waived. Even if you have a wedding planner, you need to read over your contracts and have an understanding of what your commitments were/what you’re responsible for even in the aftermath of a cancelled celebration. ~ Jacqueline Vazquez, wedding planner for Lifetime Events, USA

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Invest in insurance.

It’s completely normal to have passing/intermittent feelings of “oh s***, is this really what we should be doing?!?” However, if over the course of your engagement, your feelings start to weigh on you and negatively impact your relationship, then you may want to consider wedding insurance. This can help with circumstances related more toward postponement (illness in the family, delays due to personal pressures/life events, etc.), but it can also be a safeguard for the emotional side of things, should it come to breaking up entirely and deciding to forego the wedding altogether.

Be as direct as possible with the delivery of bad news.

Canceling your wedding is a painful process and the most difficult part of it is sharing the sad news with family and friends. The first step I advise is to communicate the cancellation to closest family members who will undoubtedly do their best to support you in your time of need. In any case, a nicely written note card is a must to comply with etiquette. Your wedding planner can help with the tiring and emotionally draining process of invitation recalling. ~ Sandra Santoro, wedding planner of Gettingmarriedinitaly(r)

I always recommend that my couples be more direct about the situation, no sugar coating; send a simple email or call, letting your guests know the wedding has been canceled and asking them to give you space to heal. ~ Joyce Mnguni, wedding planner of Dream Weddings Riviera Maya, Mexico

Depending on the timing and what stationery has been sent out (to date), the protocol in the US is as follows:

● If only save the dates have been sent, a note card should be mailed indicating the wedding will not take place.

● If invitations have been mailed, then someone (parents of the couple, their wedding party, etc.) should be appointed to call the guests personally.

~ Jacqueline Vazquez, wedding planner for Lifetime Events, USA

Return all gifts with thank yous.

Sure, you might be cancelling your wedding, but guests may still send you gifts - if they haven’t yet learned of your decision. And unfortunately, the arduous process of thank you note writing can’t be avoided.

Wedding gifts should be returned with a thank you note. It is also important to cancel wedding registries promptly and, if possible, have any money reimbursed to guests from the stores they’ve purchased from. ~ Sandra Santoro, wedding planner of Gettingmarriedinitaly(r)

Gifts can also be donated, if returns aren’t an option. ~ Joyce Mnguni, wedding planner of Dream Weddings Riviera Maya, Mexico

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It sucks, it really does suck to go through the exhausting process of wedding planning, only to have to rethink the whole thing at a later time. That said, if you’re the couple, try your best to understand where your wedding dream team is coming from - when/if you feel like they’re trying to take advantage of you. They’re not!!!!! It’s business, and there should be particular precautions in place to protect BOTH of you.

We, as planners (but also the professionals), work with a cancellation policy that is agreed upon and executed by both parties well before ANY work is done together. We follow these cadences carefully.

At my company, we have a non-refundable deposit due at the moment of the contract signing and then other clauses that go up to 30 days before the wedding. Of course, we can be flexible depending on the case. If the cancellation is made long before the wedding, we can try to get more from the vendors and see if we can also refund deposits. ~ Valentina Lombardi, wedding planner of the Italian Wedding Company, Italy

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