Invitations have all been sent. Toasters and Cuisinarts are starting to arrive. But you’ve got a sinking feeling. You want to call off the wedding.
It’s natural to get pre-wedding jitters or have those I-can’t-find-my-weddingdress nightmares in the weeks leading up to the big day. Sometimes, though, they’re more than cold feet. They’re warning signals that you’re headed for a train wreck.
It’s nearly impossible to admit these worries. You know all hell is about to break loose. Your fiancée will go ballistic. Your future in-laws will become instant enemies. Friends and family will have to scramble to change hotel reservations and tickets. There will be lots of explaining to do.
Then there’s the issue of money. Thousands of dollars have already been paid for the photographers, caterers and flowers. There’s no telling how much you’ll to be able to recoup.
Yet, these issues pale when it comes to the ultimate question: Is this the person you want to marry? Or do you need to get out — now?
Unfortunately, too many couples proceed with their weddings despite the glaring warning signs. Partners rationalize, “Things will be better after we’re married,” or “I can’t back out now. What will people say?”
In reality, a wedding is nothing more than a big party. It has no impact on your ultimate happiness.
Choosing the right spouse, however, is monumental. A good marriage sets the stage for a solid partnership and family. Making a mistake in that department can lead to misery, divorce court, financial ruin or all of the above.
When should you call off the wedding? When any of these criteria are present:
You discover a new fact about your partner that leads you to question his or her suitability as aspouse. For instance, you realize your fiancé is still calling and texting his ex-girlfriend after promising he’d called it quits.
You and your partner are constantly arguing. Every couple has disagreements. And pre-wedding stress can put you both on edge. Still, frequent knock-down-dragouts signal serious problems and portend a lifetime of horrendous fights. Learn to constructively resolve disagreements before saying “I do.”
Your partner has an active substance abuse issue. Unacceptable behaviors don’t change after the bouquet has been tossed. Even when partners promise to stop, it’s unlikely they’ll follow through.
You have nagging doubts. No relationship is perfect. But deep-seated concerns shouldn’t be glossed over. They’ll inevitably crop up again and again.
You’ve had a change of heart. Sometimes there’s no logical explanation. But proceeding with the wedding feels like going over a cliff. Follow your inner GPS. It’s already plotted the best course for you to follow. There may be turbulence in your immediate future. But the dust will quickly subside. Know that you’re preventing years of heartbreak in the long run.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU NEED TO CALL OFF YOUR WEDDING
If you’ve decided to call off the wedding, you need to take these steps:
Discuss your decision with your partner. Be prepared for unpleasant conversations. You can’t avoid the impending storm. Stand firm and face it. It’s ultimately best for both of you.
Notify the families. They’ll have lots of questions. They may be angry at you for what you’ve done. Hang in there. Simply tell them, “I know this is difficult. But I’ve changed my mind. This marriage isn’t right for me at this time.”
Don’t cast blame. Accept responsibility for your actions. Even if you don’t like what your partner is doing (“I can’t accept the fact that you get drunk on the sofa every night”), the decision to call it off is ultimately yours. Tell guests as soon as possible. If there’s sufficient time, you can send out a cancellation notice. If not, you or your partner need to call every one.
Return the gifts. Include a brief note that explains the situation and expresses appreciation for the givers’ efforts.
Return the ring. The courts may wrangle over an engagement ring’s legal owner. But common courtesy says to give it back. It has lost its original meaning.
Get professional counseling. Whether you’ve been stood up at the altar or have turned tail and run, emotional stability is at an all-time low. Take time to regroup. Don’t get involved with anyone new. Learn what you can from this painful ordeal to avoid making a similar mistake.