I was nearly there, you know. I'd bought a second hand dress and Irregular Choice shoes. I had booked my venue and I was organising my independent honeymoon to India. I had invited just eight people to my little ceremony. I had made 500 paper cranes for my Senbazuru decoration. I had chosen music and a menu and started to stockpile little bits and pieces for my small but no less special day.
And then my relationship ceased to make sense. I choose not to divulge these reasons here as it is a story for two people to tell. Suffice it to say I am satisfied now (nearly a year later) that it was exactly the right decision for us. It was an extremely challenging time, and I mourned my relationship, my home (as I moved from the house I shared with my ex) and my identity. And I mourned my wedding — the hours on the Offbeat Bride Tribe, on Etsy, on Pinterest and on crafting and planning and dreaming my wee dreams.
It was a very hard, very sad time. And I really remember feeling very alone when it all happened — plenty of people talk about divorce, about second marriages, about partner breakups… I couldn't find other people who had cancelled their wedding — even on the Tribe, my bible for all things wedding, there was little to be found on how to break up gracefully.
I struggled through and here I am, nearly a year later and I am sane and happy and whole. So, without further ado, here is my guide to canceling your offbeat wedding. These are just some of the things I wish I'd heard last year.
1. Be a grown-up
If you were old enough to make the decision to get married, then act like it when the relationship ends. I remain very grateful that my breakup was calm (as much it could be) and dignified. We split money down the middle, he gave me space to move out, I left my engagement ring and we parted in an adult fashion. It can be hard if the other party is behaving badly, but hold your head high and think dignity and class. You will be proud that you did.
2. A marriage trumps a wedding
Do not stay in an unhealthy, unhappy relationship because you want a wedding. I stayed longer than I should have, even though I knew long before then that I needed to leave. A wedding is a wonderful thing, but it is not as important as long-term happiness.
3. You are not alone
You might feel that you're the only gobshite who made the grave mistake of getting engaged and spending a load of money only to call it all off with a few short months to go. Over time, SO MANY people have told me stories of this happening to them. I would like to consider myself a sane, level-headed, logical person and it happened to me. Feeling less alone helped me immensely (but it does seem to be something that's not discussed as broadly as other breakups, so be patient as people share their stories with you).
4. Your loved ones care far more about your happiness than they do about a wedding
I was so anxious I was letting my parents down. I HOWLED over my mother's outfit she had bought for the wedding. Mum is not into clothes and would never spend money on frivolous dresses for herself. She did for my wedding and was so excited that she didn't want to take it off when she showed me. I felt wretched that I was letting her down. She on the other hand roared laughing and told me “it's only a shagging dress, you are way more important.” So, um, that told me then.
5. Feel your feelings and let go
Man, I grieved for that wedding — like a person. I really went through the stages of grief as I dealt with the loss of my relationship and wedding. I think that by openly expressing these emotions (painful as it was) I moved past them and things got easier. And sometime, you have to let go. I gave my wedding stuff to charity, I spent my savings for my honeymoon on an iPad, and a holiday to Italy with Mum, and I let my sister take care of selling my dress. I sobbed, and raged, and drank (a lot of) wine. And then, in time and, without even realising it had happened, I let go.
6. Offbeat weddings are ENDLESSLY creative
I (rather foolishly) worried I'd used all my good ideas up on my cancelled wedding. And you know what, there's like a MILLION different weddings and they're all unique and wonderful and there's NEW IDEAS all the time. And look, I am seeing someone, and it's VERY early days, and I'm saying nothing, but like, if I had to start thinking all over again…
Sunflowers and a seating chart on a ladder. And a ceili band. And a tea length dress… In other words, I might be seeing you all again in a few years, keep an eye out.
In the meantime be brave and be honest. You are strong and you deserve to be happy. Trust your heart and you will come through the hardship. Being offbeat is about being authentic in your entire life, and not just your wedding.