When Sara (of the Meanest Look) wrote me to ask if I’d be interested in her writing about how she dealt with calling off her wedding, I said, “YES!!” in such an enthusiastic way that I think she was a little shocked. Because on one hand, yes, people don’t like to think of unhappy endings in the middle of wedding planning. But on the other hand, I think there is power for all of us in discussing the taboo parts of weddings and marriages. BIG power. Because goodness knows, if you call off your wedding, you’re at least supposed to be quiet about it. And f*ck being quiet about it. I know for a fact that Sara is not the only Team Practical member who has dealt with this, and none of you deserve to feel alone and isolated. Plus, well, I know this story (don’t we all know this story?) mine didn’t involve a ring, but it did involve a lot of painful wising up. And I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t had to pick up those bazillion pieces. So, wedding graduate or no wedding graduate, I’m on Sara’s team. With that, I give you Sara, the Wedding Dropout (Yup. I said it):
Three or so weeks before my romantic, perfect, practical wedding was set to take place the whole shebang that I had spent countless hours coordinating, planning, etc. was called off.
You know cold feet? Well it was something more. It was a gut feeling that something just wasn’t right. It was more than a fleeting moment of doubt.
It just wasn’t right.
At the end of December, I called off my wedding and shit hit the fan. Having just gone through this a few months ago and looking back, what sort of advice can I offer to other wedding dropouts?
- First, slow everything down. Wedding planning is hectic and fast and harried and full of pressure from all kinds of places. Make sure you’re actually interested in the getting married bit of the wedding planning -that you want your relationship to have a forever home. Maybe you do. Maybe things are just moving too fast. That’s all fine. Just take the time to be sure.
- Do your own dirty work. Even though friends and family may offer to call guest, caterers, hotels, etc for you, just do it yourself. You may cry through every one of those phone calls like I did, but owning the situation makes it so much easier.
- If you don’t make those calls yourself and deal with it, then be ready for some seriously awkward situations. I chose to stick my head in the sand and tell only a few people. Word did not get around, so I had co-workers, acquaintances, friends, and family constantly asking if I “was getting excited for the big day” leading up to the date. I had about a million breakdowns every time that happened. It would have been much easier to just get it over with at once.
- Return gifts and money immediately. Include a thank you card and a personal note. Don’t be rude just because your plans have changed.
- The people who loved you before you were a bride-to-be will still love you once you are a Wedding Dropout. (thanks, Dad!) And feel free to have that frank conversation with them. I was surprised when my dad told me he doesn’t care if I ever get married. As long as I’m happy.
- Ask for your money back from vendors. You may be surprised at the compassion some people will have toward your situation.
- Live gratitude. Thank everyone around you for their support, their kindness, and time. You cannot thank them enough.
- Try therapy first. Pre-marital counseling, individual therapy. Whatever helps you sort your head out. We tried too little, too late and then it just imploded on our efforts. It takes a lot of hard work to make a marriage work and therapy will help you know if you and your partner are on the same page or if dropping out is the right path.
- Feel free to fall apart. It’s okay, really. I waited too long to get in touch with what I was really feeling and it led to some dark days. Mourn, make peace with your decision and begin to move on. And cry all you want, girlfriend.
- You will be okay. The “was to be wedding day” was really hard. My stubborn ass went to the place we were going to have the reception and had a party with my besties. I had a “confirmed bachelorette” party a few weeks before. Those are memories I’ll always have with my friends. And I laughed at myself, which helped. Immeasurably. It’s more than okay to laugh while crying.
Life goes on. It’s hard but you can make it through if I did. It will feel like your entire world has fallen in. Cause it sort of has, but the thing is, you can rebuild. And you’ll know how to make a stronger foundation next time. And there will be a next time. I promise.
And now the very personal part. Did I love my Fiancée? Yes, without a doubt. Did he love me? Absolutely. Do I still love him? Yes, and will for a very long time. Did I want to work things out at first? No. Did he? Yes. After a little time went by did I want things to work out? Yes. Did he? No. So I cried some more. What made all this practical, sane and creative? I followed my heart. Into the engagement and out.