How to cancel your wedding after the death of your partner

Updated Oct 12 2015
bijouxandbits
How to cancel your wedding after the death of your partner from @offbeatbride
Photo by walkadogCC BY 2.0

We've talked about canceling your wedding when you decide to break up, but what about if you lose your partner before the wedding?

This is a tragic circumstance that brings far more complexity than simply trying to explain what went wrong. There are layers of grief and confusion that will undoubtedly be more than you can take on alone. Calling on the help of loved ones is key.

Additionally, many of these steps revolve around issues of etiquette, which in the case of the death of your partner are more flexible than the usual decisions you'd have to make when canceling a wedding. Make the choices you need to make to get through it — that's priority number one.

Here are our recommendations for how to cancel your wedding after the death of your partner:

Let your guests know

This is one necessary step that you may want to offload to a close family member or friend. Chances are many of your guests will already know the details, but having to go through the explanation process with each guest individually is probably not in your best interests.

Have your chosen helper contact all guests via email or phone to explain the situation briefly and ask them to give you time to mourn and make plans before getting in touch for details.

Notify all vendors

The same rule applies in this case: feel free to ask someone else to make these phone calls for you.

Who to Notify:

  • Officiant
  • Ceremony venue
  • Reception venue
  • Planner or day-of coordinator
  • Photographer
  • Musicians
  • DJ
  • Caterers
  • Florist
  • Any other vendors you may have contracted

Decide on honeymoon plans

Taking a friend or family member on a well-needed trip away may be just what the doctor ordered after you lose your partner. But if you decide not to keep your honeymoon plans, don't forget to have someone cancel them for you.

The wedding dress question

If you've already purchased your wedding dress, you can decide to either keep it, alter it, sell it, or give it away to a wedding dress charity. In one particular case, the bride decided to wear her gown to the funeral to honor her partner's life and their love.

Some bridal shops may be willing to sell your wedding gown for you as an in-store sample. Otherwise, feel free to keep the dress as a memento, if it won't be an emotional burden.

Return the gifts (or don't)

Though there are no hard and fast rules in this case, we're pretty sure that no guest will be demanding their gift back. We recommend you return the gifts that might be painful to have around and keep anything that might be helpful. Leave this decision for the last step since it's really the least important and the one nobody will be bothering you about anyway.

Moving On

Recognize your grief and allow yourself leeway. Allow yourself to wallow as long as you need to. Forgive yourself if you lash out. Take the time you need to make careful decisions. Ask for help.

Practice self-care: Stay hydrated, stay active if you can, sleep as much as you need, and have someone help you cook or bring you meals. Ask for help again.

Don't get rid of anything or make decisions under duress: Be wary of getting rid of anything that reminds you of your partner right away. Put anything away that might be a negative emotional trigger until you have a clearer head. Again, ask for any help you might need.

Plan how to mourn with your loved ones

One of the hardest parts of losing someone close is that you're not the only one who lost them. You'll inevitably have to deal with organizing some aspects of the funeral, memorial, or service, as well as the understandable grief of others. Do what you can and ask for time and patience when necessary.

Do you have any advice for someone left behind after the untimely death of their partner? Lend us your thoughts.

Looking for more advice?

family-tragedy

  1. Aww – the link in the Wedding Dress section is broken – I'd love to read more about the bride who decided to wear her dress to the funeral.

  2. While it is rare, I want to thank you for tackling this today. I think we all get blind-sided by the sunshine and rainbow aspects of building a life together that we forget that life is tenuous, strange, cruel and unfair at times.

    I hope that no one ever has to use this advice, but I know someone will. I'm glad it exists and you've taken the step to put it out there.

    If you are reading this because you need to, I'm so, so, so sorry for your loss and you've found a great community to call home while you reassemble your life, even with a missing piece. All the strength and love to you, anonymous reader, because I ache to think of the position you're in.

  3. "Return the gifts (or don't) – Though there are no hard and fast rules in this case, we're pretty sure that no guest will be demanding their gift back."

    You've no idea how crass some people can be.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.

Biz owners & wedding bloggers

Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.