So I canceled my offbeat wedding…

Guest post by Cailleach an Airgid

So I canceled my offbeat wedding…

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.

Comments on So I canceled my offbeat wedding…

  1. Love seeing ‘gobshite’ on OBB 🙂 Maith thú agus go n’éirí an t-ádh leat le do chaidreamh nua.

  2. i had a similar experience. i cancelled my wedding a few days before. and it would have been everything i had ever wanted. it was really hard, but my friends and family were so supportive. someone else told me at the time that he went through his marriage because he already sent out the invitations. they divorced a year later. i didn’t want the same experience. i spent a lot of money but it all seemed better than divorce later. now i’m getting married to the man of my dreams. it’s not going to be the dream wedding i planned before, but the most important part is being with my love forever!

  3. It’s taken me since this was posted to read it, as I’ve been working up the courage to see it all written down. I cancelled my wedding three days before the event, nearly four years ago, and it still feels like a punch to the gut to remember it. I felt like I’d let everyone down, especially my Mum, who had postponed her chemotherapy so she wouldn’t feel ill on the day. I cried over her dress too. My parents, who lost thousands of pounds due to the last-minute cancellation, were very supportive, and my fiance’s mother sent me a note saying she thought I was “courageous”, which shocked me but made me realise how right I’d been to do it. All of your points ring true and it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one who’s been through this, reading all the comments. I realise now that instead of failing, I chose the hard option – it would have been easier to go through with it, and now I feel capable of anything – I’ve completely lost my fear that I’ll get hurt because the worst has already happened and it just showed me how strong I can be.

  4. I, too, am someone who canceled their wedding. Like a regular break-up it was a time to mourn the lost of a serious relationship. However, unlike a regular break-up, many were confused and not very supportive. I found that some of my friends were living their wedding fantasies through my wedding and it was hurtful to hear some of the reasons they believed I was breaking up with the SO.

    To this day, I know that I made the right choice. It was hard and difficult, but well worth it. Your advice was spot on, good job!

  5. You are definitely not alone! I cancelled my wedding and recieved so much support from most people. It is very hard, and I found myself get upset over the stupidest things – like the dress I wanted but won’t have.

  6. A friend cancelled her wedding under fairly awful circumstances five days before. We all grieved with her. I went with my mother and the minister to the church on the day to send people away, and then gathered with other friends, with whom I bawled. Because it was like going to a funeral. Something had died. It wasn’t a person, but it was something we all cherished and wanted the best for. And it died. So we held a wake whilst the broken hearted bride went on her honey moon with girlfriends instead of her new husband.

    Perhaps it is easier when it is cancelled earlier. I share this because no matter how much we were all hurt and saddened, it must be so much harder to bear if you are the couple. Your friends grieve with you. They can’t understand exactly how you feel, but they are hurt too. And they hurt because you are hurt.

  7. Hi : Thanks for having the bravery and determination to share your story. It’s true the marriage, IF it is meant to be IS what matters. Watch the show : Say Yes to the Dress and a person can see other INSANE side of weddings. Your name translates to The Hag with the Money. (I love to research things I am curious about!!) Can I ask, is that your “given” name or for writing and blog purposes?? Have a great new Spring!!!

  8. I *SO* would have loved to see this post… well, honestly just a little sooner than you were going through it yourself.

    I went through a self-destructive planning phase with my theoretical Offbeat Wedding for my first engagement; I wasn’t as far into planning as you were, but I used that wedding as a life-raft. Planning it was the only thing bringing me joy in my sinking relationship for a long time, and when it reached the point where I decided I had to abandon ship, the dread set in. Everyone that we knew was aware that we were engaged. I’d introduced him to family that I almost never see as my fiance. He was a part of family pictures. I lazily referred to him as ‘the hubby’ because I hated the word fiance too much to use it. And then suddenly I’m undoing all of that? I was so worried about the backlash from my family for going back on it that I almost went through with the wedding for that reason alone, and, as you said, a marriage trumps a wedding!

    Now, I, too, find myself back to plotting (we’re not planning, we’re plotting, muahahaha) a wedding and you’re right about the ideas, too! They’re not going to dry up. I’m happier with the ones I’m coming up with now because I’m not just throwing myself head-first into wedding porn to escape my life, so the ideas we’re building from? They’re OURS. Did Google point me back here when I went looking for the polyhedral dice mold? Yeah, but that’s okay; I have no delusions that the stuff we’re doing’s never been done, but I’m finding ideas that match mine, rather than just using someone else’s wholesale.

    I’m glad that canceling your OBW turned out for the best, and thank you so much for sharing this experience. Even though I wasn’t as deep into the planning, and even though the article comes as I get back on the wedding horse, so to speak, it’s so nice not to feel alone in second-planning.

  9. I know a couple who need to read this article, but I could never send it to them because I would be shunned for bringing dark clouds over their “happy” day. The bride to be is only concerned with the wedding. The groom knows their relationship is doomed but feels like they’ve been dating too long to officially break up. In his mind, the only way to end it is to marry and divorce. In her mind, marriage will make their relationship better. All of us on the outside have heard their awful stories about the other and they truly seem unhappy. They are both miserable with the planning, and even moving in together has been traumatic. They have been together over 5 years and have broken up more than a dozen times (for a dat, a week, a month, what have you). They have both likened themselves to failures if they break up before marriage. It is so silly to watch. I wish I could tell them that this stuff happens everyday and if you are not happy, get out! There are so many others who have done the same thing and found happiness.

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