Sometimes, and it is rare, couples have to cancel their wedding.  It’s so sad and, for them, there is a huge sense of loss – no matter the circumstances.  So here are a few things to consider when you are speaking with a couple who have had to cancel their Special Day:

They are scared, sad and worried:  When you are speaking with a couple who are cancelling their wedding, whether that is because the relationship is over or if they have experienced a significant loss or an occasion such as an unexpected pregnancy or diagnosis of a difficult health issue, remember that they are dealing with a major life change in whatever form and are likely to be feeling scared, sad and worried. Be empathetic and sympathetic.  These emotions may make them teary, anxious or even angry – stay calm and listen to them to get the information you need.  

Ask for them to cancel formally in writing:  Once you have spoken with them, ask them to write formally to you (email is fine) to cancel the wedding in writing.  This gives you an opportunity to draft your appropriate response and should allow you to step back from any emotional response you may have to their news.

Wedding Insurance should cover their major losses:  Most couples will have wedding insurance (in fact, we recommend that you mention it to them when they initially book).  This covers them but also consider that this should cover you indirectly in the event that they are unable to make their outstanding payments as per your terms and conditions.  Financially they should be covered if their cancellation is for most reasons other than cold feet or relationship dissolution.

Try to be objective (remaining empathetic): As much as it is difficult, try to be as objective as possible – as I mentioned, cancelling a wedding is an emotional choice – and can be attached to some potentially difficult circumstances which can trigger your own emotional response.  If so, take a step back from the conversation and, if necessary, enlist the support and help of an objective third party who can assist you in responding.  

Know your rights:  Assuming your contracts are up to date and accurate, you should be able to refer them to the T’s and C’s and this should help you navigate this difficult minefield.

Consider what you can do to help:  If the wedding is far enough away, do consider what you can do to alleviate their distress.  As we spoke about in Complaint Handling (and this is a kind of complaint, albeit, not about you and your services), distress and inconvenience are key to deciding a suitable outcome – this is a highly distressing situation, so consider how you can alleviate this so it does not escalate further.  I have had a bride who cancelled her wedding with me due to relationship dissolution but rebooked it later with her new partner!  I have also had couples who cancelled due to family sickness rebook 2 years later when things felt more settled.  Your client selected you for a reason, you never know what might happen in the future so handling this well is important.

Finally, Follow up:  Make sure you follow up any refund or cancellation fees as discussed so you have it in writing and make sure you get a response in agreement.  This is very important, you do not want to leave yourself open to any repercussions in the future – cover yourself!  

Have you ever had a wedding cancel on you?  What are your top tips for handling this difficult situation? Comment below or, if you need more specific advice, please feel free to contact us at  

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