Unlike canceling happy hour plans with a friend, deciding to call off a wedding requires a little more thought than sending a last-minute text. Of course, there's the logistical nightmare of returning wedding gifts and getting refunded for all your party purchases. But there's also the intense emotional stress of deciding to end the relationship that you heretofore thought was going to last forever.
Every relationship is different, as well as everyone's views on marriage as an institution, so it's tough to say exactly how to tell if you should call off your wedding. Experts say that it's best to simply trust your gut when you're having doubts about a relationship, which is easier said than done. "Ask yourself, What would I need to do moving forward if no one was watching? Would I still go through with it and be okay with it?" Akua K. Boateng, PhD, LPC, a licensed psychotherapist in Philadelphia, told Refinery29. And if you're having trouble answering those questions, that might be a clear sign that it's time to move on.
To get a sense of how people sort through this complicated life decision IRL, ahead are quotes from people who have called off their own engagements. The good news: Not every canceled wedding described here ended up disastrously. In fact, some may give you the push you need to make the right decision for you.
"Had the band booked, the hall, the caterer, down payments on all of them, plus the florist. Invitations were sent to a person that did calligraphy, and that's when she decided to change her mind and tell me she never wanted to have children, and gave me back the engagement ring. Three months before the wedding, mind you, I was crushed. She just didn't want to be around me anymore, so I gave up and stopped calling her. Lost quite a bit of money on all the down payments, but in the end it was worth it. She married but never had children, I married and we have two. I don't even want to think about what my life would be without our kids." - via Reddit
"I postponed a wedding once. It was just moving too quickly and I just wasn't ready. Her family had already bought airplane tickets, dress was purchased, and so on. It wasn't like it was the day before, but it wasn't far enough out to re-book flights or anything and a bunch of the family was pretty grumpy over airfare costs. We never split up, just slowed things down, and a couple of years later we got married on a whim and it was awesome. It really worked out well for us in the end. We have been married a couple of years now and have a kid and life is great." - via Reddit
"I called off mine about 4.5 months before it was planned. We had the save the dates sent out, venue booked, dress bought, etc. We were very far along, but I had a feeling that I could not shake that he was not the right person for me. I had also started developing feelings for someone else, a very close friend, and knew that my relationship with fiancé wasn't right/was doomed. I never cheated, but I will always regret waiting as long as I did to come to terms with how I felt and pull the trigger and call off the wedding.
"My ex would have gotten married to me and lived his whole life with me, as planned, even if we ended up unhappy. I still feel regret at the way things ended because my relationship with my ex was not bad, it just wasn't great, and I started feeling resentful toward him by the end of our relationship, but plowed ahead with wedding plans for much much longer than I should have." - via Reddit
"My fiancé called it off. I'd been very, very sick after a treatment for a chronic illness went bad. My parents and I had put a sizable chunk of money down on the venue, the dress, and was just about ready to book the photographer when he changed his mind. He had assumed he could continue living with me (where he had been staying rent free) while he figured out where to stay. He also took back the engagement ring from the dresser where I'd stored it without saying a word to me (I found out from a friend that he sold it and made most of his money back).
"Shitty the way things happened and I still get a little pissy about it (losing $6k does that to a person), but probably the best thing that ever happened to me. It allowed me to grow so much more as a person and helped me to realize that while you may be planning a wedding and think you're set for the future, that doesn't mean you are happy. It's up to you to grab your own happiness. Which is what my ex did and I can't fault him for that." - via Reddit
"Hubs and I cancelled our destination wedding. More than half the guest list flaked last minute, and we were over dealing with the drama. Told the rest, so they could flake too if they wanted. Ended up having a nice weekend with a few friends we hadn’t seen in a while, followed by a truly picture perfect honeymoon.
"We were already married in the courthouse, so we just exchanged the vows we’d written on the beach one morning at sunrise after everyone left and took photos ourselves. No regrets." - via Reddit
"[My] job required me to move 1,500 miles away shortly after our engagement. [This was] before FaceTime and social media. While planning the wedding via several telephone calls, we both realized that we had grown apart and the breakup was mutual. We still hooked up for several years when I went back home to visit family." - via Reddit