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Bridal Club Magazine

Wedding Woes - When Your Big Day Gets Called Off

Whether the timing is wrong and the day is postponed, or you have been unable to resolve your differences, there are some logistical issues to take care of sooner rather than later. Contacting your friends and loved ones at this emotional time is an essential but painful ordeal. It is a wise suggestion that you gather some of those friends and family to help carry the burden.

Here are some questions and answers about what to expect should your wedding day be called off.

Q. Where do we begin to let people know that we have called our wedding off?
A. If your invitations have not been sent, order a printed card that is worded in a similar manner to formal invitations as our sample suggests.

Mr. and Mrs. Peter Fowler
announce that the marriage of
their daughter
Judith Elizabeth
Grant Francis Smith
will not take place

If the invitations have already gone out and/or there's no time to get a written explanation to guests, someone needs to call everyone on the guest list and let them know that the wedding will not take place.

Q. Are we obligated to tell them why we are not getting married?

A. No. At this point, simply letting guests know there will be no wedding is all that is required.

Q. Does the engagement ring have to be given back?

A. Traditonally, in accepting a ring, the bride-to-be promises her hand in marriage. As long as she is willing to fulfil her promise, she has honoured the contract. If he breaks it off, she can keep the ring. However, if she terminates the engagement, she makes it clear she is no longer willing to keep the promise and should therefore not benefit from the ring. Each situation is different, you may already have an instinct about what to do with it, but here are some guidelines.

•  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 cancelled.

•  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 ring becomes an issue and is under the value of $2000, it can be settled in your local small claims court.

Q. Does wedding insurance cover this situation?

A. Unfortunately, no. Wedding insurance can be your best friend in the event of cancellation or postponement (due to weather conditions, sudden death in the family, illness, natural disaster, etc.), but 'not when the cause is a change of heart.'

Q. What do we do with all these gifts?

A. All engagement, shower, and wedding gifts including personalised ones - will have to be returned to the guests who sent them. Include a note to thank them for their kindness in having given it to you. If you've used any of the gifts (cooking-related products, towels, etc.), it's not appropriate to return them. Some guests may insist that you keep their gifts in which case you should accept them graciously.

Q. What do we do about the dress?

A. If you have ordered your wedding dress and accessories from a bridal salon, your binding signature often backs the outfits to a non-refundable, watertight and there are some ways to help ease the financial worry in this scenario.

•  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.

Q. Oh no, not the honeymoon, too?

A. Waivers are a fee you pay in advance which exonerates you from all or some of the cancellation fees up until 24 hours before the departure date. Unless you requested one of these from your travel agency when you booked the honeymoon, you could be up the proverbial creek. Cancellation fees can sometimes be one hundred percent of the original cost.
Travel insurance is a safety net in most circumstances, but once again, 'a change in heart' can leave you exempt. Always ask what the cancellation fees are before booking the travel arrangements, and always ask about waivers. Penalty fees are usually subject to the amount of notice given. (3 months vs. 3 days makes a big difference)

Q. Can refunds be given on any of the deposits we have made?

A. That depends on how close to the wedding date your cancellation is, and how diligent you have been with your vendor contracts. Good contracts have a refund policy.   You should be able to get back a certain percentage of any deposits you made if the party is cancelled by a certain date. The closer it is to the actual wedding date, the less likely you are to get your money back -- establishments and other wedding professionals are simply protecting their own business.

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