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Couture, Cash & the Canceled Wedding

By Amalah

Please, I need help. My fiance and I just called off our wedding–not the getting married part, the wedding part. We’re going down to the courthouse with our parents and then going to dinner instead. We just can’t go through with all of that big wedding stuff–we cut it down as far as we could and we still had 90 guests and it was more expensive than we could afford. My maid of honor and mother both bought expensive dresses though. Should we offer to reimburse them? We’d have to take it out of our savings-to-buy-a-house, since we’re talking over $1000 put together. (Seriously–both of their dresses were more expensive than mine. Everyone was making a bigger deal of this than we wanted.)
I don’t know what to do. My mother is furious with me. Help?

OK, first some too-late-for-you advice for everybody else: ladies! pretties! The minute you get engaged, go out and buy a guide to wedding etiquette. A big fat one. Trust me, it will be your BIBLE during the planning process and help you with everything. Who pays for what! How not to be tacky with your registry! Seating charts for families who hate each other! And what to do if your wedding gets canceled or postponed.
So. Back to you, Q. On a strictly picky-picky level, you are not obligated to pay for the dresses. Even bridesmaid’s dresses, which the bride generally dictates the purchase and price of, are usually absent from the bridal responsibility checklists after a canceled wedding. (Most wedding forums suggest that bridesmaids simply sell the dresses on eBay and chalk it up to one of those things, and hey! It was probably ugly anyway and now you don’t have to wear it.) Since it sounds like you did not drag these women to a store and tell them to buy $500 dresses, it technically isn’t your problem.
But like all things family and etiquette, it sort of IS your problem, if the cost of the dresses is becoming a Thing with your friend and your mother. I couldn’t tell from your email whether they’ve actually asked you to reimburse them or if it’s just a general sort-of harping and whining about it. Either way: TACKY. If neither of those things are happening and you just feel guilty, then you have my permission to let this go. If they are whining or asking for money, you also have my blessing to ignore them and move forward with your plans AND your $1,000. But…if you want to be the bigger person here and attempt to make peace with a sort-of childish situation, offering to pay for the stupid dresses wouldn’t hurt.
And I’m guessing a $500 check isn’t the real source of your mother’s anger…your wedding was an important event for her, and now she isn’t getting the event she probably always dreamed for you. Such is life. And motherhood. You can’t make her get over it, although with time she probably (hopefully?) will. I don’t know your mom, obviously, but perhaps offering to pay for her dress might snap her warped priorities back into line, because in the end, the cost of her dress is So Not The Point. You and your fiance have chosen to build a LIFE together, instead of a big-ass party. What irresponsible airheads you must be! (Heh.)
Or she might take the check and continue to be furious. Which in that case: Get married at the courthouse and then buy that house in a whole other city.

Published October 1, 2007. Last updated October 1, 2007.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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