How to Cancel a Wedding.

Runaway in style...
Runaway in style…

No, seriously. Cancel the damn thing.

There’s many-a-wedding I’ve heard about that should’ve been cancelled, and there’s a few coming up this spring that really just should NOT be happening.

The thing is, most people think canceling a wedding would be too much of a hassle — even more than a divorce. Or, sometimes, let’s face it, keeping up appearances is an actual thing, and it can be humiliating to cancel what you thought would be the event of your dreams.

There’s nothing sexy about that.

But nor is divorce, or living in complete misery. So, let’s call the whole (f*cking) thing off! Shockingly, I found a TON of information on how to cancel a wedding in the classiest way possible.

1. Invitations

If invitations have NOT been sent, printed cards to all of the would-be guests should be sent, saying the following:

Holly’s friends

Announce that the marriage of

Their friend

Holly A. Phillips


John C. Mayer

Will not take place. 

Ooff, that hurts to write. If invitations HAVE already gone out, and there’s not enough time to send written notice about the cancelation, someone needs to call everyone on the guest list and tell them the wedding will not be taking place. Sheena or Angela, if you’re reading this, and this ever happens, one of you has to make these calls. 

One good thing about either of these situations? No explanation needs to be made. Just say the wedding is not happening. That is all anyone needs to know.

According to Huffington Post, an email is not sufficient for a wedding cancellation, as far as notifying your guests. You can handwrite the notes or print them, but they need to be put in the mail. It is also suggested you notify guests (even the ones that RSVP’d “no”) within 48 hours of making the decision to call it off so people can stop making travel plans.

2. The ring

Oh that beautiful ring you just had to have — it was so special. Until now. So who gets it? That’s a toughie, because every situation is different. The Knot (oddly enough) has some good suggestions:

  • If the bride calls off the wedding and her ring was a gift from the groom, it’s appropriate for her to give it back.
  • If the groom calls it off, the bride may want to give him his ring back because she does not want to be reminded of their failed engagement.
  • If the ring is a family heirloom, it should go back to the family it came from, regardless of why the wedding was canceled.
  • If the couple bought the ring together, they need to decide what to do with it, as they would with any other joint purchases they’ve made.

If the groom calls off the wedding, and was a complete asshole, The Knot gives the bride permission to take that damn ring to the pawn shop!

3. The dress

Depending on how far you were into the wedding planning process, chances are, your dress can’t just be “canceled.” If the dress is an emotional thing for you (as it probably is), you should ask a family member or a friend for help.

If the dress order cannot be canceled or returned, you’ve got a few options, though they might not be fun ones. The Knot suggests:

  • Cancellation Policy: Ask if the special order dress has been cut yet. If not, you might be able to negotiate a cancellation fee.
  • Sample Sales: If the bridal shop is having a sample sale anytime soon, ask the manager to put your dress on sale. Agree to a minimum price and make it unbeatable, so you can cut your losses and put closure to the situation.
  • Consignment Shops: They may enable you to recover some of your investment. Check their policies, and make sure you are in constant contact with the shop you’ve chosen — this will help keep your dress top-of-mind with the consultants.
  • Charity Donation: You can obtain a well-deserved tax deduction while doing something great for a person in need.

My advice? Dye the dress hot pink, wear it to the bar for a celebration that you’re not marrying an asshole, and drink yourself stupid.

4. The venue, cake, etc.

You’ll have to look into all of the contracts you signed to see what you can cancel and get refunds for. Most things should be up for refunds, especially if you’re a little ways out from the supposed wedding date.

5. The honeymoon

Unless you requested a waiver or insurance, you’re probably SOL and should take the trip with someone cool instead.  Most of the time, even if you did purchase travel insurance, you only get refunded if it involves a death or military circumstances.

6. The gifts

ALL gifts must be returned… NOW. You can even send the cancelation note along with the gift if you do it fast enough. Either way, you can send a “Thank you anyway,” note along with the gift. Since you’re technically not supposed to use any gifts until after the wedding, this should just involve boxing things up and getting them out (which I know is still a major pain in the ass).

Already used the gift? Huffington Post has the answer:

If you have broken the rules and used a gift to the extent it cannot be returned, try to purchase a replacement to give back to the giver. Or explain the situation if the giver was a close friend or family member who would understand. But that salad spinner from your parents’ neighbor has to be returned in its original box, even if you have to go buy a salad spinner to do it.

Whew. I know, canceling a wedding is certainly no walk in the park — but it’s still better than the alternative. Two years ago, Stacy Austin wrote a guest blog on Simply Solo (a blog started after a canceled wedding) about how to emotionally deal when you’re big day isn’t happening. So, if you’re really going through the aforementioned, it might be worth a read.

Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.

—Marilyn Monroe 

Get the look from the picture: Men’s Blue Cowboy Waistcoat -or- This Awesome Jeweled & Pearl Denim Vest, Sweetheart Tulle Gown, Rampage Valorie Bootie


  1. smalltwnfashion

    I had a friend cancel her wedding – it was the best thing she ever did. She is SO happy now, and she decided to keep her dress because she loves it so much, irregardless of why she bought it. It really is SO much better to call the wedding off!

Leave a Reply to smalltwnfashion Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s