Broken engagement etiquette is unfortunately a reality. When two people become engaged, they do not think it will end. It is sad when it does, however handling it right will keep the dignity of all parties involved.
The causes of a broken engagement are varied. It is a stressful time planning to take the next step of marriage, and sometimes that is what will bring about the demise of the relationship. Whatever the reason, it is not good for either party to be hurtful to the other.
Broken engagement etiquette states that the engagement ring should be returned. There are a few exceptions to this rule. If the ring was a gift for her birthday or Christmas, she may keep it. If the ring is an heirloom from her family, then she definitely keeps it. The wedding gown decision is up to the bride. Special order gowns most likely cannot be returned. Some bridal boutiques will allow you to sell your gown on their floor instead of returning it. There are brides who opt to keep their gown, alter it a little and wear it when the time is right.
If the engagement ends before a formal announcement has been made and the wedding plans have begun, then the appropriate etiquette will have you make phone calls or send notes to those you have told. It is not an easy thing to do, however you should not offer any explanations. Keep it between you and your finace.
However if the engagement has been formally announced and the invitations sent, broken engagement etiquette states that the bride and groom are to be quick to announce that the wedding will not be taking place. This will allow any of their guests who have made travel plans to make the necessary adjustments.
A brief announcement in the paper, formal cards or phone calls are all appropriate ways to inform the guests. Wording should be kept brief:
Mr. & Mrs. Johnson announce the marriage of their daughter, Chloe to
Jackson Jones will not be taking place.
Broken engagement etiquette also has the couple returning any gifts that they have received. Whether it be from a shower or the wedding itself, be prompt in returning the gifts. The couple should include a brief note explaining that the wedding will not occur (not why) and thanking the giver for their love and kindness.
Canceling the wedding services is time consuming, however it is necessary financially and ethically. It is a good idea to put together a list of all of the services that have been contracted and that need to be canceled. Generally the more time you give a vendor to reschedule their services with someone else, the more likely they will be understanding. It is best to be quick about this as well.
It is very difficult and emotional to call off a wedding. Family and friends should be respectful to the couple and not ask questions. The best thing you can do for them is to show you care and be there for them. Give them the time they need to heal and move on.
As hard as it may be to walk away from a relationship of this magnitude, remember in the long run it is better to cancel a wedding than file for a divorce. Being able to recognize what didn’t work will help you move on and find the right one. As hard as it may be, stay dignified and respectful of each other. It is vital that you use the golden rule here and treat each other as you want to be treated. At the end of the day you will feel better that you did.