The Washington Post

When a wedding is canceled, write off the losses and move on


Adapted from a recent online discussion .

Hi, Carolyn:

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

My daughter was supposed to get married soon but, upon finding out about several affairs, she has canceled the wedding. She is devastated but has an excellent support system.

However, we have an issue with her ex-fiance’s family. My family put down nonrefundable deposits on numerous services like the venue, florist, photographer, etc. I think, given the circumstances of the split, her ex-fiance should reimburse us for the deposits. He caused this wedding to be canceled, and now he is just walking away, leaving thousands of lost dollars in his wake.

My daughter is adopting the attitude of just wanting to get over him and move on; she would rather not get involved with his family.

Since about half the deposits are mine, I do want to get involved. My son is a lawyer and told us we have absolutely no legal recourse for this money and we should assume it is gone.

I understand what my kids are saying, but it is hard for me to let this money go out of no fault of my family. Any advice?


Yoga, punching a pillow, throwing darts at a photo of the ex, Zumba, a cocktail at 4:55 p.m. instead of 5, a mock funeral service where you bury thousands in Monopoly money — pick your method and use it to bid farewell to the cash.

Wanting people to behave as you want them to is a great way to waste a good chunk of your life. Better just to waste the money, and accept that your daughter is the luckiest person on Earth right now; if this money is what it cost for her to reach this mountaintop, then arguably it was well spent. Or well set on fire.

Besides, you don’t want to get on the “out of no fault of my family” road, since, for example, your daughter may well have been immersed in signs that her beloved was cheating on her, and so her wishful thinking, willful blindness and/or foot-dragging are part of the reason you’re now out these nonrefundable deposits. I actually don’t believe in such finger-pointing unless it’s as part of a process of self-examination — but I’m putting it out there as a caution against such black-and-white, me-good-you-bad thinking.

Re: Canceled:

Don’t let your daughter think you care more about money than about her. I called off a wedding, too, and my parents lost some deposits and the entire cost of a wedding dress. They didn’t say a single word about the money and I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. I was humiliated and devastated and needed much more emotional support than I let on. I imagine your daughter is feeling something similar.


So well said, thanks.

Re: Canceled:

This family could possibly recoup some of their “lost” deposit money. A canceled wedding brokerage service can “sell” your canceled wedding package at a discount to another couple.

Anonymous 2

Brilliant, thanks.

Dear Carolyn:

Another approach to the lost deposits is to use them. Send some flowers to a hospital. Send the deejay to a nursing home unit at the VA. Send the caterer to a shelter.

D. (via Facebook)

Even brillianter. (Hope you all didn’t come to these through experience.)

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or Sign up for Carolyn Hax’s column, delivered to your inbox early each morning, at .



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.