how to properly cancel a wedding 

Canceling your wedding is a subject no couple wants to discuss. But I am here for the hard conversations, and after over 20 years of experience as a wedding and event planner, I will give you the steps to cancel your wedding.

First of all, you will come from a very emotional place. It’s understandable. It will be emotionally challenging for everyone involved, including your vendors! 

I firmly believe it’s much better to cancel or postpone a wedding you’re not ready for than to marry somebody you are not sure about. I want to tell you that I think you have incredible courage and respect for yourself if you need to cancel the wedding.

step one:

Contact your wedding planner with the information and allow your planner to contact your vendors on your behalf. When I had clients who had to cancel, they appreciated my reaching out to vendors, so the couple would not have to explain or have the conversation repeatedly. Of course, you can handle it yourself; however, if you are in an emotional frame of mind and do not have a planner, consider having a trusted family member handle it.

step two:

Notify your vendors as soon as possible. The earlier you let them know, the more likely they will be able to fill that date with another event and potentially refund your deposit. Please note that this is NOT guaranteed, as you have signed contracts that state non-refundable deposits. 

step three:

Review your vendor contracts. I would make a spreadsheet in Google or on paper. The first column will be the vendor name. The second column will be the dollar amount that represents the deposit and/or money you have already paid them. The third column will denote yes/no if the deposit is refundable per the contract. The fourth column will be how you’ve contacted them. And the fifth column will be their response and/or notes about the conversation.

step four:

When sending out emails or texts, I create a paragraph that is succinct and to the point so I may copy and paste it when sending it to each vendor. The wording may look like this:

Dear Vendor,

We hope this email finds you well. We are sorry to inform you that the wedding of NAME and NAME on MO/DAY/YEAR will not be taking place; it has been canceled. This is a very difficult time for the couple, and they are sorry for any challenges this may have caused with your scheduling.

To reconfirm, can you please confirm your deposit policy per the contract they signed? We understand that it is non-refundable; however, is there any room to transfer this deposit to a later date (with a new contract) for another event? If you are able to fill that weekend with another couple, is there a possibility that the deposit could be refunded, if not all of it, at least a portion?

Thank you so much for your understanding and we look forward to your response.

I want to be very clear: 99% of the time, your non-refundable deposit will NOT be returned. Wedding vendors can only service one or a few weddings per weekend. Your deposit holds your wedding date, and we turn down other weddings. 

But in some cases, you may have some wiggle room, such as a venue. If they are able to fill the weekend, they may be open to returning some of your deposit. 

In some cases, if a couple cannot get a deposit back, they have asked some vendors, such as a rental company, to apply their deposit to another couple that could benefit from their money. Doing something nice for someone else is such a positive way to handle a very sad situation.

step five

Be sure to have cancellations in writing, whether a formal letter or an email (I prefer a cancellation letter). This provides a record of your communication and ensures everyone is on the same page, that is why I prefer email as opposed to phone conversations. 

Following these steps and communicating openly with your vendors, you can navigate the process of canceling your wedding with minimal stress and ensure a smooth transition for all parties involved. 

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