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Your Wedding Has Been Called Off: Now What???

Updated on December 1, 2014

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... 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.


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    • DIYweddingplanner profile image

      DIYweddingplanner 6 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      Ouch! That's pretty harsh, even for an 83 year old. Hope she learned a lesson, so maybe next time...wait a minute, guess she's running out of next times, huh?

    • adrienne2 profile image

      Adrienne F Manson 6 years ago from Atlanta

      I have heard of a few wedding cancellations. Now this is a true story, this just happened a couple 83 years old the 3 weeks before the wedding the groom backed out, and told the bride he didn't want to get marry. Mind you this have started dating again after being apart for 40 years, and he did the same thing to her when they were engaged the first time.

    • DIYweddingplanner profile image

      DIYweddingplanner 6 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      I knew you were my secret twin! Yes, I think it leaves scars that last for years and sometimes well-meaning friends don't help by asking a lot of questions. The best thing they can do is just be there for the person and listen if they need to talk...and keep a stock of Doritos!

    • diydiva profile image

      Kay Mitchell 6 years ago from California

      Oh wow, I remember cancelling my wedding a few years back. The hardest part was that a handful of close friends passed away, or got married themselves and so at each of these events I was asked many prodding questions about where my fiancé was and when we are rescheduling the wedding. So embarrassing and brought up way too many emotions. Thanks for the great tips, hopefully I won't need them again!

    • DIYweddingplanner profile image

      DIYweddingplanner 6 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      Yes, I know what etiquette says. But sometimes ethics should triumph over etiquette. Why would you want to keep a ring from someone who hurt you so deeply?

      And young has nothing to do with it, some of us are old and still dumb!

    • Tess45 profile image

      Tess45 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Hey, Bea, according to the rules of etiquette if the groom calls of the wedding the bride is allowed to keep the ring, and he should not ask for it back. It the bride calls off the wedding she is expected, nay required to return it.

      Very good hub... I am sure it will help many people. I called of my wedding way back in the 80s. I should have called off the one that resulted in my first marriage and consequential divorce! The intended groom went on a DATE days before we were supposed to marry! (Seriously?! Who does that?)

      I should have called off the one that resulted in my first marriage and consequential divorce!

      Oh, to be young, and dumb again.

    • DIYweddingplanner profile image

      DIYweddingplanner 6 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      Thanks, PM. I'm sure you've seen a few of those in your time!

    • PMCustomWeddings profile image

      PMCustomWeddings 6 years ago

      Very well written! Thank you for sharing a very difficult experience, and helping others who may also have to deal with this.

    • DIYweddingplanner profile image

      DIYweddingplanner 6 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      Thanks, Simone, glad you stopped by and read!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      This is a situation nobody wants to be in... but your advice is really excellent! Glad you wrote this Hub.

    • DIYweddingplanner profile image

      DIYweddingplanner 6 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      Thanks, RC. A friend of mine read it and said "This is about you, isn't it?" Well, yes and no. It's about me and a lot of other people. I hope my experience could be helpful to others at a time when you're so distraught, you really aren't thinking clearly.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Very well written. This is not an easy topic and you dealt with a lot of important issues that come up in this situation.

    • DIYweddingplanner profile image

      DIYweddingplanner 6 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      Amen, WOL! On all accounts! I'm headed off to read. :)

    • profile image

      writeronline 6 years ago

      Hi DIY, loved this.

      Laugh out loud funny, sympathetic yet upbeat; and practical too! If there's ever an HP competition for 'value for money', you should enter this invaluable piece. (I know, it'd have to be about 'something for nothing' if our HP earnings are taken into account..).

      Perhaps, in retrospect, some people may feel less jilted, and more like they've had a narrow escape, on considering the following:

      "I am" is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language.

      Could it be that "I do" is the longest sentence?

      Love your work, DIY.

      PS; I just posted an article whose title might put you off reading. Please don't let it, it's actually quite uplifting,(that was the plan) esp now it's attracted a number of open, honest comments.

    • DIYweddingplanner profile image

      DIYweddingplanner 6 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      Thanks, Talia, I think it's more common than most people realize. I read that less than 2 percent of people who call off or postpone their wedding actually make it down the aisle later, so evidently it's so hurtful many people can't get past it. Charlotte, so very nice of you, it really wasn't my intent for this to be about me, but for people to realize it can happen to anyone.

    • Charlotte B Plum profile image

      Charlotte B Plum 6 years ago

      I love the spirit with which you wrote this. It is definitely a hard experience, but you write with so much grace and elegance I have so much respect for you. This is going to help so many out there for sure!

    • Talia J profile image

      Talia J 6 years ago from Australia

      How awful for you. I agree with kschimmel that it really needed to be written. Not many have first-hand experience and are willing to share it. Good on you. I'm sure you will help someone. Good luck to you.

    • DIYweddingplanner profile image

      DIYweddingplanner 6 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      Thanks, Maraellen, I do and even though it sounds trite and cliché, it really was all for the best. I hope I can help someone else who's going through that situation, not pleasant, but you will be a stronger person in the end.

    • profile image

      marellen 6 years ago

      You poor thing and of course you already know that you are better off without him. Sounds like you'er on the road to recovery....Good for you. Inspiring hub.

    • DIYweddingplanner profile image

      DIYweddingplanner 6 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      I see so many happy people that I work with, but I know the flip side as well, K. I guess the most important thing to remember is you WILL live through it, even at the time you think you won't! :)

    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 6 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      Bless your heart! This was an article that needed to be written. It never occurred to me all the things that have to be done in case of a cancellation. Thanks for sharing--I'm sure somebody needs the guidance and encouragement that you give.