Rustic style burlap aisle runner |
Planning & Advice

Postponing or Cancelling your Wedding

We all like to think it would never happen to us but a small percentage of weddings are postponed and some are even cancelled, and ultimately it may be for the best. If you are considering postponing or cancelling your wedding, here is what to consider, from the logistics of how to inform your guests to who keeps the engagement ring, and most importantly how to cope with the roller coaster of emotions. 

Aisle runner burlap

Postponing the wedding

There are various reasons why your wedding may have to be postponed.  Sudden illness of the bride or groom, or the death of a parent are the most usual reasons though some couples might feel they need more time to plan the wedding or even more time to make sure they are doing the right thing in marrying at all.

Should the situation arise, it is best to inform your guests with the same formality in which you invited them.

Postponement and cancellation announcements require the host to recall their wedding invitation. Recalling the invitations will officially cancel them. In the case of a postponement, a new invitation can then be issued. When the wedding is postponed at short notice it is more usual to notify guests by phone.

Wording example:

Mr and Mrs (Bride’s parents name)

regret that the illness of their daughter

(Bride’s name)

obliges them to recall their invitations to her marriage to

Mr (Groom’s name)

On (date)

New invitation:

Mr. and Mrs. (Bride’s name)

announce that the wedding of their daughter

Miss (Bride’s name)


Mr (Groom’s name)

which was postponed, will now take place

On (date

At (time)


Cancelling the wedding

If you decide to call off your wedding, telling everyone is probably the last thing you want to do yet you or your family do need to make sure everyone invited is informed.

The best way to do it is with a simple, formal note to all your guests. You don’t have to go into detail, just a basic note will suffice, such as: ”Sarah and John regret to inform you that the wedding arranged for (date, time, place) will not now take place”.

A more formal note can be sent as an alternative:

Mr and Mrs (Bride’s parents name)

are obliged to recall their invitations to the marriage of their daughter

(Bride’s name)


Mr (Groom’s name)

as the marriage will not take place.

If the wedding is cancelled at late notice it is advisable to make the announcement by phone to ensure everyone hears and does not turn up and you could also email to ensure everyone is clear.

The cost of cancellation

You will need to cancel any bookings made with venues, caterers, florists and any other wedding suppliers as soon as possible. If you don’t feel able to do this then ask your parents or your best friends to help you. The further from the planned wedding date you do this, the fewer costs you are likely to incur.

Cancellation costs should really be covered by whoever broke off the engagement, though if you decide to take them’ to court over this, bear in mind that you may not necessarily win as it is very hard to prove legally who’s responsible in a situation like this, and can be very expensive to try.

You should offer to give back any wedding presents you’ve already received and pay the postage for this. If the woman calls off the wedding, she usually hands back her engagement ring. If the man calls it off, she keeps it. The law states that the ring, given as a gift by the man to the woman, is her property and need not be returned.

Also note that most wedding insurance policies do not pay out on cancellations where the couple have changed their minds. They do, however, usually pay out if cancellation is due to illness, death or various other disasters.

Managing your emotions

I truly hope you don’t find yourself in this situation but please do try to feel reassured that others who have been in this situation do move on. You are likely to look back, once the dust has settled, and realise that it was for the best.

If you are feeling very shocked and upset by the turn of events and especially if you begin to feel depressed don’t be afraid to ask for  support. Well meaning friends may be a shoulder to cry on but sometimes you need more. See your GP who will be able to offer you a variety of helpful options from talking therapy to short-term anti-depressants to local support groups. Lean on your close friends and family, they will want to help you through this so let them, don’t be too proud. Better to postpone or cancel your wedding if one of you is not 100% than to get married and face divorce after.

We learn so much through our most challenging experiences and though you may not  feel like it for a long time after, please know that you will have other opportunities to love and be happy again.

Find Wedding Ideas, Inspiration, Venues and Services

mail icon

Subscribe to our Network

Stay connected with our network and get all the best Wedding Planning, Inspiration and Competitions directly into your inbox.