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Etiquette

Cancelling reception etiquette

My fiance and I are having a destination wedding (in Charleston, S.C. where we live) and only our best friends and immediate family are attending (about 24 people). We then planned a large 100+ person reception in our hometown to celebrate with all of our friends and extended families. Save the dates went out last May and the reception is planned for May 2019. Well, since then, I'd had multiple deaths in my immediate family plus some health complications. Nothing is planned and we have decided to cancel the reception (but still marry as planned in Charleston). It's been a hard decision but our family has been stretched so thin with stress and grief we truly feel like this is the best decision for us all. 

When it comes to canceling... do I have to give reasoning or can I simply say: "As many of you know, we have had a very difficult year as a family. Due to these circumstances, we have decided to marry in a private ceremony in Charleston and cancel our reception originally planned for (insert date and location). We realize we have asked you to save the date and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. This has been a very difficult decision and we hope you understand. We love you all unconditionally and thank you for your love and support."

I feel TERRIBLE and guilty for having to do this, but as I said, it's been a crappy year, to say the least, and I just want to marry the man of my dreams and move on with our lives. The decision is made so I am hoping to receive some feedback on how the letter sounds (not whether or not we should do it). :) 

Thank you! 

- J


Re: Cancelling reception etiquette

  • First of all I'm very sorry for all the tragedy your family has encountered this year. I can certainly understand why you want to scale things back.

    As for the letter, it sounds to me as if you are giving a reason for canceling the party. You can cancel it for any reason - it is a party. I am a bit confused about the destination wedding part though. You say you live in Charleston but the wedding is there. If you live there, it isn't a destination wedding. Was the party  (it isn't a reception unless it is held the day of the wedding and includes the people attending the wedding) also being held in Charleston? You said your hometown, but I couldn't tell if you meant Charleston or another location. All that doesn't make any difference as far as cancelling the party though. You are giving your guests plenty of notice so it really shouldn't be an issue. I have heard of weddings being canceled the night before!

    Best wishes!
    InLoveInQueens
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    jemejak said:
    My fiance and I are having a destination wedding (in Charleston, S.C. where we live) and only our best friends and immediate family are attending (about 24 people). We then planned a large 100+ person reception in our hometown to celebrate with all of our friends and extended families. Save the dates went out last May and the reception is planned for May 2019. Well, since then, I'd had multiple deaths in my immediate family plus some health complications. Nothing is planned and we have decided to cancel the reception (but still marry as planned in Charleston). It's been a hard decision but our family has been stretched so thin with stress and grief we truly feel like this is the best decision for us all. 

    When it comes to canceling... do I have to give reasoning or can I simply say: "As many of you know, we have had a very difficult year as a family. Due to these circumstances, we have decided to marry in a private ceremony in Charleston and cancel our reception originally planned for (insert date and location). We realize we have asked you to save the date and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. This has been a very difficult decision and we hope you understand. We love you all unconditionally and thank you for your love and support."

    I feel TERRIBLE and guilty for having to do this, but as I said, it's been a crappy year, to say the least, and I just want to marry the man of my dreams and move on with our lives. The decision is made so I am hoping to receive some feedback on how the letter sounds (not whether or not we should do it). :) 

    Thank you! 

    - J





    image
  • My daughter has a friend who was in a similar situation. She and her fiance had planned a wedding in the town where she grew up. Save the dates went out. Then, complications arose (newly diagnosed chronic illness, family stuff), and they decided to have a much smaller wedding ceremony in the town in Minnesota where they both went to college. They informed all of the people who had received the save-the-dates.

    Even though they tried their best, people were very hurt when they saw the wedding photos on Facebook. These were people who have been invited to the original wedding, but were not invited to the one that actually took place. The couple did end up holding a party in the bride's hometown that did include all of the original invitees, but people still felt hurt.

    If you do this, be low-key about the social media stuff. You may know that the bridesmaid in the picture on your Facebook page is an immediate family member, but one of your guests who received the save-the-date, may not and will be offended if you post the picture.
    ILoveBeachMusicdowntondivaei34
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Don't explain or offer excuses. Just tell people that the party originally scheduled in May will not be held as planned. You can explain the reasoning when you speak to people, but putting it in writing comes off as insincere, especially when you've been planning to marry in Charleston without these people all along. 

    In reality, this is not a reception and you shouldn't have sent STDs for this party to begin with. That's no help to you now. 
    ei34MairePoppyshort+sassy
  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2018
    Really think  about this before you cancel.  Just because you don't have a lot of stuff planned out long in advance doesn't mean you can't plan things exactly as you want them in short order, the reality is, and have said it multiple times before when brides are stressed about all the details, people literally plan funerals with most of the same vendors in 3-5 days and delegate to their vendors within their budget to pull the event off (Caterer, florist, officiant, hall, and baker)... Cancelling because you've had a lot of negative negates the positive for all, especially you and FI that your wedding day will be.  We've had Brides that a parent has passed away the month before the wedding, some that have gotten married in their dying parent's hospital room, etc. come on here trying to decide if they should cancel or how to work the memory of their deceased loved one into the day without turning it in to "Memorial Service 2.0". 
     (editing because somehow this got fudged and lines deleted)..  
    If you're cancelling because you and FI aren't emotionally where you need to be to be married - better to do this sooner than later.  As for a note, since invitations weren't sent, a note isn't necessary.  If that is not the case, go ahead and have the celebration for those 100 as a "Cake and Punch Reception" as long as you schedule it at the appropriate time (i.e. not during meal time) and still have it as-planned without breaking the budget.  Or, you have one big event the day of your actual wedding and those who can attend, attend.  A community center or hall for 125 for one day is a lot easier than what you're originally planning.  But really, stop overthinking what a bridal magazine has told you and realize that if a corporation wants to have an event for 125 in three weeks for their release party at a nearby hall with a budget of $$$, the event will happen, a wedding or celebration party is the same, you just have to make decisions and delegate while managing your budget.  
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  • MesmrEwe said:
    Really think  about this before you cancel.  Just because you don't have a lot of stuff planned out long in advance doesn't mean you can't plan things exactly as you want them in short order, the reality is, and have said it multiple times before when brides are stressed about all the details, people literally plan funerals with most of the same vendors in 3-5 days and delegate to their vendors within their budget to pull the event off (Caterer, florist, officiant, hall, and baker)... Cancelling because you've had a lot of negative negates the positive for all, especially you and FI that your wedding day will be.  We've had Brides that a parent has passed away the month before the wedding, some that have gotten married in their dying parent's hospital room, etc. come on here trying to decide if they should cancel or how to work the memory of their deceased loved one into the day without turning it in to "Memorial Service 2.0". 
     (editing because somehow this got fudged and lines deleted)..  
    If you're cancelling because you and FI aren't emotionally where you need to be to be married - better to do this sooner than later.  As for a note, since invitations weren't sent, a note isn't necessary.  If that is not the case, go ahead and have the celebration for those 100 as a "Cake and Punch Reception" as long as you schedule it at the appropriate time (i.e. not during meal time) and still have it as-planned without breaking the budget.  Or, you have one big event the day of your actual wedding and those who can attend, attend.  A community center or hall for 125 for one day is a lot easier than what you're originally planning.  But really, stop overthinking what a bridal magazine has told you and realize that if a corporation wants to have an event for 125 in three weeks for their release party at a nearby hall with a budget of $$$, the event will happen, a wedding or celebration party is the same, you just have to make decisions and delegate while managing your budget.  


  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    I'm going to infer that the people invited to the 100 person party in your hometown knew it was a post-wedding celebration and not an actual wedding, right?

    Assuming that's the case, I think your note is fine. If I received that, I'd understand. 

    However, your proposed note carries the "news" of your private ceremony, which tells me people invited to the big shebang maybe didn't know they weren't invited to a wedding. 

    So... which is the case? With a little more clarity on the situation we may better help you navigate the situation. I think something needs to be said since you sent STDs. 
    ________________________________


  • Don't explain or offer excuses. Just tell people that the party originally scheduled in May will not be held as planned. You can explain the reasoning when you speak to people, but putting it in writing comes off as insincere, especially when you've been planning to marry in Charleston without these people all along. 

    In reality, this is not a reception and you shouldn't have sent STDs for this party to begin with. That's no help to you now. 

    I strongly agree with this.  People just need to know, for their own planning, that the event is no longer taking place.  I would give this same advice, even if the STDs were for a wedding.  It would be especially odd and confusing to talk about your private wedding ceremony in formal correspondence, for a wedding that none of these people were invited to anyway.  In essence, this was a party you all were going to have to celebrate recently being married.  Now you all aren't having the party.  Totally fine!  And are even giving guests plenty of notice of the cancellation.  There is nothing to feel guilty or terrible about, so I hope you stop beating yourself up over it.

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  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    Don't explain or offer excuses. Just tell people that the party originally scheduled in May will not be held as planned. You can explain the reasoning when you speak to people, but putting it in writing comes off as insincere, especially when you've been planning to marry in Charleston without these people all along. 

    In reality, this is not a reception and you shouldn't have sent STDs for this party to begin with. That's no help to you now. 

    I strongly agree with this.  People just need to know, for their own planning, that the event is no longer taking place.  I would give this same advice, even if the STDs were for a wedding.  It would be especially odd and confusing to talk about your private wedding ceremony in formal correspondence, for a wedding that none of these people were invited to anyway.  In essence, this was a party you all were going to have to celebrate recently being married.  Now you all aren't having the party.  Totally fine!  And are even giving guests plenty of notice of the cancellation.  There is nothing to feel guilty or terrible about, so I hope you stop beating yourself up over it.

    I  think @mynameisnot meant  to tell people the event wasn't taking place but  don't give them the reasons for it being canceled. Of course people need to know it is being canceled but perhaps they don't need to know all the details as to why it is being canceled. 
  • People do need to know the couple is still getting married though so they don't mischaracterize the situation, you know? Like it would clearly still be interesting to the potential party goers that the OPs relationship is fine.
    thisismynickname2
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