One weekend in March, I got the phone call that every wedding planner dreads and that we hope we never get. It was one of my brides calling to tell me the wedding was off, could I take care of canceling everything? The groom had changed his mind and decided he wasn’t ready to get married. I gave them a week to see if something was going to change and when it didn’t, I called all the vendors to let them know the situation.
Hopefully you won’t have to deal with a canceled wedding but if the situation comes up, start by taking a deep breath and give it a day or two or seven. DON’T start calling your vendors until you have both had a little bit of cooling off time, especially if the wedding was called off because of an argument. If you were adult enough to plan a life together, be adult enough to sit down and talk through the situation.
If once you have talked, the wedding is still off there are a few things you need to do as soon as you can:
*First things first, make a list of all the vendors that you have paid any money to at all. Then re-read all your contracts and take careful note of the cancellation policies of each, how they must be informed and what the penalty is for cancellation. While you are probably going to lose some of the deposits you already paid, some vendors will work with you. Make sure you know what you will be getting back and what you won’t.
*Call your wedding planner and work through your list with them. Let them be a buffer and call the vendors to get the cancellation process moving. It will also save you from having to answer the “What happened?!” question over and over.
*If a formal invitation has already gone out, you should send out a brief note to each guest stating that the wedding will not be taking place. No further explanation is needed.
*If you can afford it, consider offering to reimburse your bridesmaids for their dresses. Pretty self explanatory.
*Return the gifts. Yes, they really do have to go back.
*Make certain you take care of yourself. Do something nice for yourself – go on a weekend trip somewhere you have never been, spend the day at the spa, get really drunk with your best friends – just do something that will take your mind off the situation for a little while and make you feel special again.
Finally, as hard as it is, remember that it is easier to take apart a wedding than it is a marriage. Someday, down the road, you will realize it is better to have it called off before the wedding than 5 years after when you have to deal with a formal divorce and maybe even a custody battle. I know this is all little solace in the midst of it all but trust me, time does heal all wounds.
Oh, and I am happy to report that I heard from my bride from that phone call in March and she is doing just fine.