Cancellations Come In Threes

4-minute read

If last year was the year of pregnant brides, 2019 is the year of wedding cancellations. It’s the middle of the wedding season now, so I doubt that any more cancellations will happen, but we hope it won’t be any more than three.

Dealing with cancellations isn’t fun. Of course, the lost income is a bit of a sting. We only take on about 20 weddings a year, so even one cancellation really hurts, let alone three. Yes, we do keep the deposit in the event of a cancellation, but it’s not free money. It’s barely enough to cover our time communicating, hosting meetings, and planning engagement sessions. Not to mention the cost of turning down work from the other inquiries we’ve had for the same day. Taking a non-refundable deposit is not our secret ploy to get rich without working, but a way of keeping our business alive in the worst-case scenario.

“Cancellations are just part of the business”

But honestly, the lost income is the least of our concerns. Money comes and goes, and cancellations are just part of the business, and dealing with them is a chance to grow and learn. The hardest part is feeling for our couples. I can’t imagine it’s an easy thing to do, so we don’t pry for an explanation. All we can do is tell them that we support them, love them, and wish the best for them. Because we truly do. But it does leave me to wonder if something could’ve been done earlier to avoid this pain.

Regardless of where you are at in your planning stage – whether you’ve thought about cancelling everything and eloping in the desert or if you couldn’t be more excited for your wedding – we believe these three tips will guarantee a wedding you can remember fondly for the rest of your life.

This is not in any way advice directed at the couples who have cancelled. If you are one of them and you’re reading this, please do not take this as me telling you what you should’ve done. I am only writing this because our recent wedding cancellations have lead to me reflect on what we can do to better serve all couples. We love you. Come over for beer.

“Look at all your expenses and ask: will this make me happy?”

1. Plan a wedding you can afford.

Weddings Parties are expensive. Every attendee means more money for more invitations, food, drinks, chairs, and a bigger venue. On any given day, a party costs time and money, and a wedding is no ordinary party. Add on the dress, the perfectly tailored suit, the cake, the ceremony, the flowers, the guest list, the fantasy of it all. Weddings are just really big extravagant parties and parties are expensive. There’s no way around that.

If you have a limited budget, something will have to give. There is absolutely no shame in foregoing tradition or shrinking the guest list for the sake money. Go Marie Kondo on your wedding and only spend money on the things that give you joy. Look at all your expenses and ask: will this make me happy? If not, see if you can do without. (Some expenses are logistical necessities but I’m not talking about those)

“Spend some time doing introspection”

2. Plan a wedding that you want.

If you want an expensive, extravagant wedding and can afford it, do that. But even if you can afford it, if you don’t want it, don’t buy it. All sorts of people get married for all sorts of reasons, and we strongly encourage every couple to have their own. But it's easier said than done. Planning a wedding isn’t something you learn in school or do a couple times a year, let alone a lifetime, so how will you know the difference between something you want or something you’ve been told you should want?

Before you start shelling out thousands of dollars in deposits, spend some time doing introspection with your partner. Heck, see a therapist or get some counselling. It’s easy for life to get so busy that you don’t ever take the time to stop, think, and reflect. Once you set a date and start planning it will be doubly hard to slow things down, so take the time at the beginning to ask the hard questions. And don’t be afraid to consider the most rebellious act of all...

“As much as a wedding is for you, it’s also for your guests”

3. Consider not having a wedding at all.

As much as I’ve heard “it’s what the bride wants”, I know that the reality is different. Planning a wedding is an invitation for every opinion to come out of the wood work. It can quickly become about the church ceremony that grandma wants, or the invitations that the parents want to send, or the speech the bridesmaid wants to give, or the open bar that the guests want to indulge in. These aren’t bad things at all, I’m just acknowledging that this is the reality of every wedding we’ve been part of.

As much as a wedding is for you, it’s also for the many people you are inviting to be part of it, and inviting people requires logistical and emotional preparation. It that’s not something you want to deal with, then don’t. Elope in the mountains. Go on an extended honeymoon for two. Pop into your local courthouse. Or just live together for six months and let the government definition of common law take over.

Depending on your family dynamic you might need to prepare an explanation for concerned relatives, but that will be far easier than cancelling a wedding or paying for one you don’t want. If at some future point of your life you decide that you missed out on having a wedding, then have one. Who’s going to judge you for throwing a party with an open bar?

Are you planning a wedding a little outside the box? Thinking of eloping? Tell us about it.

Evan Bergen