Minimizing the Expense of a Called-Off Wedding Canceling a wedding at the last minute can be both heartbreaking and expensive. Alex Chadwick speaks with Day to Day personal finance contributor Michelle Singletary about how to minimize the expense of calling off the big day.
NPR logo

Minimizing the Expense of a Called-Off Wedding

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Minimizing the Expense of a Called-Off Wedding

Minimizing the Expense of a Called-Off Wedding

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Personal finance contributor Michelle Singletary is back with us.

Michelle, welcome. And, you know, a couple of weeks ago, you and I talked about weddings and holding down the cost of weddings, and now here's the subject for this week, cancelled weddings, which is heartbreaking on a couple of ways. Of course, it's going to be personally traumatic, but also you will have spent some money on just setting up that wedding and suddenly it's all off. Michelle Singletary, what then?


Listen. It's less expensive to go forward, but definitely you're going to have some expenses that you're not going to get back. If you put a deposit down on a reception hall and you cancel the day before, chances are you're going to lose all of that deposit.


SINGLETARY: If you cancel, say, six months or, you know, eight months out before the wedding happens, you may be able to get your deposit back if the venue can re-book the room.

CHADWICK: You know, I'm not sure this is a question for personal finance or maybe etiquette, but what about notifying all the guests about the cancellation? Just send out something that says whoops?

SINGLETARY: Well, you might not want to go whoops, but if it's very close to when the wedding date was supposed to happen, you need to call folks. If there's some time, you want to send out a card saying that the wedding has cancelled, and the card should look pretty much like the wedding invitation itself. And you don't need to put in a long explanation, but you want to just be very tasteful and say, I'm very sorry, but we are not going to have our wedding. We appreciate all your kind thoughts, or something to that extent.

CHADWICK: Well, those cards, I mean, that can be a personal letter, or do you have to go back and pay a stationer for heavy card stock?

SINGLETARY: You know, at this point, you want to minimize costs. You could get a local stationery store to help you come up with some invitations that are low cost, or you can send personal notes. Just get some very nice stationery from the local office supply store. You want to minimize costs, because already you're probably out several hundred or several thousand dollars.

CHADWICK: Right. And, you know, if you're very, very close to the wedding date, there's the question of the gifts, because some people will have already sent them, and what then?

SINGLETARY: Well, you need to send the gifts back. You don't have to rush to send them back, but you do want to put them in the mail in a timely manner. You want to include a personal note that says, I'm sorry. I definitely appreciate this gift.

CHADWICK: Okay, and last, here's a touchy question. Maybe the bride has already purchased the big dress. What do you do then, and what about the bridesmaids?

SINGLETARY: If it was a hard breakup, you know, a lot of brides don't want to wear that dress again, say, if they get married. So you can maybe, perhaps, give it to a consignment store to sell for you, you split the profits. You can probably sell it on eBay. I mean, there are all kinds of ways to get rid of that wedding dress if it has a lot of bad memories. There are some brides who actually keep the dress, especially if it was very expensive and they took a long time to find it, because the next honey might not know that that was the dress for your cancelled wedding.

CHADWICK: Yeah, I just happened to have it in the closet.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SINGLETARY: Now, as far as bridesmaid dresses, this is where this gets kind of touchy, because some bridesmaids, especially if they spent several hundred dollars on that bridesmaid dress, may want to be reimbursed. If you are in the position to do that, you may want to, to save, you know, a lot of hurt feelings.

CHADWICK: Is this something you would offer, or would you wait for someone to maybe ask?

SINGLETARY: I wouldn't offer. I mean, you really have to sort of feel out your friends. If you have a large party, that could be very expensive. If it was a small wedding party, I think it's probably a nice thing to offer, I will reimburse you for the dress. So offer, but I bet most people won't take you up on it.

CHADWICK: The happily married Michelle Singletary, a regular guest on matters of personal finance. Her latest book is Your Money and Your Man, How You and Prince Charming Can Spend Well and Live Rich. Michelle, thank you.

SINGLETARY: You're welcome.

(Soundbite of music)

CHADWICK: DAY TO DAY is a production of NPR News with contributions from I'm Alex Chadwick.


And I'm Madeleine Brand.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.