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How to Cancel Your Wedding

Updated on November 23, 2013
The only picture of me in my dress-taken during a fitting.
The only picture of me in my dress-taken during a fitting.

Forever and Always...?

Yes. This happened to me. I was delirious in love and blissfully cruising through planning my first and only wedding-or so I thought. After dutifully receiving my father's permission, my groom-to-be had surprised me with a proposal on Christmas Eve. He was my best friend. We ended every day with a cheerful toast to the good moments we had shared together. We had endured hardships, explored new places, and enjoyed each other gleefully along the way. I was the happiest I've ever been. As I labored in love over invitations and centerpieces to create the perfect day for us, there was no indication I was about to have the rug pulled out from under me.

Our paradise was shattered just over a month before our wedding. Nothing beneficial can come from divulging the details here. Suffice it to say I never saw it coming, and it left me deeply wounded. In the days, months, and legal problems that followed I was left with no choice but to have to learn to breathe again. And then to walk. And then talk. And finally move forward.

If you are reading this because you are experiencing this in real time, my healing heart goes out to you my friend.

What To Do Next


To be very clear, this entire process was heart wrenching. I don't pretend to think that my best effort to spell this out for anyone will make it any easier. I simply want to offer what I learned in hopes that I might help anyone else who goes through this, be it ever so slightly.

  1. Enlist help I pray for God's most bountiful blessings upon my girlfriend who immediately recognized my need and acted to minimize the salt in my wound. She's been my best friend since 7th grade. I will forever be indebted in gratitude to her wisdom and support that served as my crutch during the emotional turmoil that resulted from the fall out of my almost marriage. Several other friends showed up throughout the aftermath as well. If you ever read this you know who you are. Thank you and I love you.
  2. If the Invitations have gone out... You need to send out cancellation notices. Chances are you already have a list of addresses and probably some leftover stamps. Turn over both items to the friend in step 1. Mine were plain white postcards bearing a simple message: 'We regret to inform you that the wedding ceremony of [Bride's full name] and [Groom's full name] has been cancelled. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. We thank our family and friends for their continued love and support.'
  3. Contact your vendors You need to call everyone scheduled to provide a service for the event including: Venue; Officiant; Bakery; Caterer; Florist; Photographer; DJ/Entertainment; Wardrobe Rental; Travel Agent; etc. Be familiar with the terms of contracts to determine what portion of deposits you may be able to recoup. One very kind man told me that while he could not refund any of my deposit he would be able to apply it to any future bookings.
  4. Return The Ring The jewelry store allowed a return of the setting. Frankly- I was not a part of the return and I assume there is a lot of variability here depending on your situation. I will say- I spent the next several months experiencing fleeting moments of panic when I looked down and my ring was gone. For brief seconds I would fear it had slipped off somewhere. These were very sad moments for me.
  5. Gather your receipts and unused merchandise I was a DIY bride who had accumulated decorations, card boxes, party favors, rhinestone encrusted slippers, and a multitude of other supplies for the big day. Although the financial impact of deposits I lost in step 3 was significant and painful, every little bit helped dig me out.
  6. Close your wedding website This was another very difficult thing for me to have to do. You might only understand this if you also lovingly dedicated your time to compiling pictures and memories into a tracking hub that garnered excitement for your forthcoming union to everyone who would attend. I pause here to empathize with you again.
  7. The Dress To be completely honest: Mine is still hanging in the garment bag in my friends basement from step 1. I understand I could probably sell it or consign it, etc. I was not able to return it to the bridal boutique. I invite you to do whatever you are most comfortable with. Some have suggested I use whatever money I get for it towards a self indulgent treat. I don't disagree...I guess I'm still having a hard time with that piece.

The Aftermath

Nothing could have prepared me for the chaos, confusion, and continued heartache that followed the dissolution of my relationship. New alliances were formed, family and friends were confused (Heck! I was confused!), people did not know whether to ask or look away, and I don't blame them for the awkward lack of understanding of how to offer ?condolences?

Looking back I believe I can offer three valuable tidbits:

Carry Kleenex You just never know when the song you were going to dance to first as a married couple is going to play on the radio. You don't know when you are going to happen upon someone wearing the same shoes you picked out for your bridesmaids. You don't know when you are going to run into your former significant other with his new future bride.

Don't Make An Anniversary Out Of It On what would have been my wedding day I ended up with several of my girlfriends at a screening of "Magic Mike." Only one or two of my friends knew the significance of the day but I sincerely attempted to have fun and not think about it. Thank you Channing Tatum (seriously Channing- THANK YOU). I promptly made a decision that there was no need to ever treat it as an anniversary. I do hope I reach a point where the 'would have been' significance of the date is gone from my thoughts altogether.

Keep Your Priorities Straight As a smart woman of integrity you still need to continue to go to work and meet your life responsibilities. I've never circled back and thanked my bosses properly for supporting me during this time. Bosses A & B: if you read this- Thank you too! (Of note- from the bottom of my heart I attest that I am lucky to have worked for two of the most beautiful, intelligent, stylish and strong female leaders anyone could ever hope to work for.)

Quick Tips for Coping

  • Alcohol Just kidding :-) However if you do indulge I recommend you turn over any calling or messaging capabilities to the closest trusted confidant. And of course have a designated driver.
  • Massage I mean really- how can you go wrong with this one?
  • Hairstyle Warning: Only make the decision for a new hairstyle on a day when you are coping in a happy way and not a negative one.
  • Mani/Pedi This will help you feel pretty! I dare you to make a bold decision with the latest seasonal color.
  • Exercise You can do this for free! Enjoy whatever the weather has to offer. Power walking through cold windy rain can have a very therapeutic effect.

Moving Forward

At some point you will regain your ability to engage in daily activities with a healthy perspective. When I reached this point I also felt the desire to have something to look forward to. During the immediate post traumatic time period I had zero interest in the thought of trying to find a new romantic relationship. Somewhere in the back of my head I had enough of my wits about me to know that I did not want to be alone forever either. I circled a day on my calendar several months down the road that would serve as the 1st day of being open to dating again. I encourage you to try this. At the very least you need to define your own system of accountability to ensure you keep moving forward.

We all have the choice to behave bitterly and disappear into our own downward spiraling black hole of resentment. Please do not do this. If you are the friend of someone who is going through this - do not let her do it either. She is way too pretty and way too awesome for you to just watch her sink. You throw her however many glittery accessories and coffee gift cards it takes to keep her holding on until she regains her strength.

The circled date has long since passed and I still float along unattached, but at least now I'm open to the idea of trying. I will say of my relationship with my former would be spouse: I had the time of my life and he set the bar high. I hope to achieve that level of happiness again. I won't settle for anything less in the mean time.

Final Thanks

A final thank you shout out to some key people who have helped me get through this who will never even know me. Thank you: Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga, Miranda Lambert, Katy Perry, Ben and Jerry, Elizabeth Gilbert, P!nk, the Lovely Wine Makers at the Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville TN, LMFAO, and of course Taylor Swift.

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      Sherice 3 years ago

      Wow! What a horrible thing to go through but, what beautiful insight! They say "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger, and builds character! Way to stay strong! One day you will find love and happiness because you deserve it!

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      Jenna 3 years ago

      I think u left out the Broadway Rapper and the man that kissed ur hand and jimmy charles. :) all joking aside, a wonderfully written piece by a wonderful woman.

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      Angela 3 years ago from Colorado

      Thanks Andy :-)

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      Andy 3 years ago

      Great insight from a strong woman! Thank you for sharing