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Young bride in wedding dress has to cancel her wedding

There is a moment of truth for many people shortly before their wedding, wherein they wonder if they are doing the right thing. The old phrase for this feeling used to be "cold feet," and it was most often chalked up to a bout of nerves that would pass in the warm light of day. But what if the sun comes up and the tight feeling in your gut remains, or has grown denser? It is possible, even expected, that one could get caught up in the festival of events that is modern wedding planning, have everything ready, laid out thousands in deposits, accepted hundreds of long-distance RSVPs, and still harbor serious doubt about the wisdom of going through with it. So what if the unthinkable happens and you have to cancel your wedding?

Not About the Love

As Eve Sturges wrote in her article in "A Practical Wedding", to cancel your wedding does not mean you do not love your fiancé, your family, or even your caterer. In fact, opting out may be the ultimate act of love if you truly feel that marriage is not the right path in this moment. Another old adage that is still kicking around is, "Love conquers all." Love is powerful, for sure, but not a universal steamroller for complex situations. In her article, Sturges made the decision to back out after her fiancé announced he did not want any more children. While that certainly can be a deal breaker for many people, and it was significant for Sturges, she goes on to say that this was not the only red flag, just the one that motivated her decision to walk away.

Dealing With Feelings of Shame

Canceling a wedding that is well along in the planning stages is a tremendously difficult decision. Even if you know it's the right thing to do, there is little to shield you from the shock and resistance that is likely to greet the news. However, it is essential to communicate with the people who love you best. They care for your well-being more than they desire a plated dinner and a bag of Jordan almonds. Canceling a wedding can be emotionally taxing, and will have some repercussions, but it can be done. A certain level of embarrassment is be unavoidable - in fact, it indicates that you are not a sociopath. However, try your best to avoid feelings of shame. As Sturges writes, quoting the Twelve Step community, "Shame never lifted a single spirit."

One Foot in Front of the Other

From her own experience, Sturges offers a few tips to begin a very difficult process, should you find yourself there:

  • This, too, shall pass.
  • Get help unraveling the wedding. Avoid the temptation to over-apologize. A simple announcement, such as, "Jane and Omar's wedding plans have been postponed indefinitely," may suffice. Enlist people to contact vendors and such. What cannot be refunded may come in handy for another occasion. It takes a long time for unopened wine to go bad, and sometimes it gets better.
  • Be gentle with yourself. Honor the fact that something big is ending, and that the future is less certain, and that can be overwhelming.

Try to remember that you are making this decision to avoid misery down the road. Getting married, even if you love your fiancé, may not be the road to happiness for you both. As messy as calling off a wedding may be, and as costly, it may save you and your partner from the pain of a divorce, or the stress of uncertainty on the day when you hoped to be unambiguously happy and optimistic. That said, you might opt to put on a pair of lacy socks and warm up those cold feet. Either way, show yourself some kindness. Only you know what is in your heart.

Category: Wedding Planning Ceremonies

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