Your Wedding Has Been Called Off: Now What???
Is It The End Of The World?
The call came from the bride's mother..."Why didn't you tell me you and David had called off the wedding?" Bride: "What are you talking about?" Mother: "Mrs. Dickerson, (who happens to be the big mouth of the neighborhood) went to buy you a wedding gift today and the girl at the registry told her that they got a call that the wedding was cancelled. Bride: "Whaaaaatttt???"
At a time which should be one of the happiest of your life, the worst has happened. The wedding you longed for, dreamed of, planned to the nth detail down to the color nail polish (for the bride!) or the socks you'd be wearing (if you're the groom!) has been cancelled. Differences of opinion came up, harsh words were said, and one or both parties decided to end this happily ever after before it ever started. Or maybe none of this happened and the rug was pulled out from under your feet completely without warning.
Is it the end of the world?
Certainly feels like it! Short of a death or a divorce, the breaking off of an engagement, particularly close to the actual wedding date, can be one of the most traumatic events in a person's life. If you are the jilted party or even if it was a mutual agreement to break it off, the sense of loss is enormous. Not only is there a sense of loss in the loss of the relationship and all the planning that went into the wedding, but loss of face and of self-esteem. It feels like a death and in many ways, it is.
You ask how I know this...that bride was me. It was my wedding that was cancelled without my knowledge or consent. It was my mother calling me at work about the nosy neighbor and the gift registry. And it was my world that came tumbling down around me in the space of one phone call.
First Things First
Allow yourself a minute..or maybe a lot of minutes. If you need to be alone for a bit to cry, scream, shout, do that. If you need to go get blindingly drunk, do that. Just make sure you have a close friend as the designated driver who fully expects after they've taken you off the top of a few tables dancing, yelling the words to "Free Bird" at the top of your lungs that you'll be crying wretchedly into their shirt sleeve before the night is over. That's OK, that's allowed. That same friend, if they're any kind of friend at all, will also tell you that you were way too good for him/her anyway and they'll personally kick your behind if you even think about going back to him/her. If you need to go hole up at someone's house for a couple of weeks alternately crying, throwing up, and eating Doritos, because they're the only thing you can keep down, do that. Just don't do anything completely stupid and irrevocable that you can't take back. Hangovers go away, slashed tires and shame-faced trips to the police station...not so easily. And most definitely don't even think of doing something to harm yourself. No one is worth that. Seriously. No one.
How Do You Tell Your Friends?
Obviously, if your wedding is pending in the very near future, you are going to have to tell people. However, you may be in no shape to do that or even discuss it without completely losing it. In this case, a trusted friend or family member can handle breaking the news to those close to you in as diplomatic a manner as possible. People don't have to know all the gory details...a simple, "The wedding's been cancelled until further notice" is enough. Later...much later...if you'd like to share details with close friends and family when you're up to it, you may. For now, let it ride. If invitations have already been sent, of course, cancellation notices will need to be printed and mailed immediately if there is time. If not, again, a trusted friend needs to begin notifying invitees by e-mail or telephone as soon as possible.
The Florist...The Caterer...The Photographer...
Yikes...you knew there was an even more painful aspect to this, didn't you? It's not something most people like to discuss, but lost money is a very real aspect of a wedding cancellation. Most reputable wedding vendors have clients pay their final payments two weeks before the wedding. That's to protect them, as business people, from being left in the lurch if the wedding goes south at the end, which is not as uncommon as you would think. Chances are you will lose some money, although some kind wedding vendors don't have the heart to charge you the final payment or may refund part of the funds you have already paid them. We had a wonderful florist who gave us back our entire deposit, but don't count on that happening. Good hearted wedding vendors like that are definitely hard to come by.
The Engagement Ring- The Female Perspective
If you're a female and you're like most women, before you got your engagement ring, it was hard to imagine loving an inanimate object as much as you will find yourself in love with your engagement ring! True, you had some input on picking it out and it's the exact cut, carat, whatever, that you always dreamed of when you thought of getting engaged. However, it's also the meaning behind the ring that makes it so special to you. With the wedding off, how can it possibly have that kind of meaning anymore? Yes, it's beautiful, but every time you look at it now there's no way to get that sense of joy that you had when it was first given to you. All it represents now is broken dreams and promises and do you really want that kind of reminder? On the flip side of that, maybe you just want to keep it out of sheer spite and revenge. Trust me, you will be left to choke on your own spite. Let it go. Do the right thing and give that ring back...unless of course you're like some women I've heard of who bought their own engagement ring. In that case, transfer it to your right hand and keep smiling! Or trade it in for a right handed ring to symbolize your ability to weather this storm or any other that might come your way. And definitely if it's a family heirloom, the ring was never yours anyway, it was just on loan.
The Engagement Ring- The Male Perspective
If you're the guy, chances are that engagement ring represents one big thing...MONEY! So yes, if the engagement is called off, doesn't matter by which party, you'd really like that ring back. Please do the decent thing and ask for it back as nicely as you can. Maybe you can return it and get full price for it back if you return it within a certain length of time. Maybe it was a family heirloom as was mentioned early and it needs to stay in the family. However, if you can't get your money back, you might want to be really decent and ask your ex-fiancee if she would like to split the proceeds of the sale of the ring with you and she can use them to defray some of the money she has lost on the wedding. There are plenty of buyers on E-bay and Craigslist if returning the ring from where you bought it is not an option.
After It's Over...Where Do You Go From Here?
If you're on the losing end of this break-up, (although often there are no true winners) don't go into a tailspin. After you recover from the singing on top of tables, the crying onto your best friend's shoulder, the mindless eating of Doritos, there is light at the end of this dark, horrible tunnel. Trust me. Just don't think that because you were on the brink of happily ever after you need to grab the first eligible guy or girl you see and jump into a relationship. That's called "being on the rebound" and it seldom has good results. You may meet someone who seems perfect and helps to soothe your wounded ego, just because they are paying you some positive attention. BEWARE! That feeling you feel may not be love, only a sense of gratitude and relief that perhaps you're not the loser you thought you were just because you got dumped in a very public way. Give yourself time, a lot of it, before jumping into a new relationship and making a tragic mistake. If you can't pull yourself out of the pit of despair this break-up has left you in, seek some counseling, but don't keep wallowing forever. If it was really right, truly right, you would still be with this person. Don't be embarrassed, don't be ashamed, and comfort yourself with the fact that you're not alone.
If you really want to come out a winner at the end of a broken relationship, keep your head held high! Don't sleep with his/her friends out of spite in hopes that it will get back to them and don't talk trash to anyone who will listen about how much you were wronged. If it's anyone who really knows you, that will go without saying.
Hey, and call me if you need my couch and to knock back a few Doritos!
I was there once.