Bride gives her wedding to charity - what would you do?

Your rights and your options if you have to call off a wedding

Updated: 

It's the ultimate wedding nightmare - when the wedding is called off at the last minute. One bride found herself in this position; with just seven weeks until the wedding. She ended up donating her entire wedding to charity, but it's worth knowing what to do if this happens to you or your loved ones.

See also: Couple slammed for making guests pay for wedding

See also: Guest fails to show up to wedding: so bride sends a bill


Jenna Yorkovich got engaged 16 months ago. Everything for her wedding was booked and paid for, and then seven weeks ago, her relationship with her fiance ended. It was too late to get her money back for the reception or the catering.

Jenna, who is a nurse at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, had an idea, and called Ronald McDonald House to let them know they could use the wedding in any way they saw fit. Together they decided to turn the event into a thank you party for 175 volunteers.

Your rights

She clearly made the best of a terrible situation, but it's a handy reminder for anyone planning one of the most expensive days of their life that things can go awry. If you end up having to cancel a wedding, it's worth knowing what to do.

1. Reconsider
Nobody is suggesting that anyone should be strong-armed into getting married for the sake of the money, but there are times when it may not make sense to call things off. If a key member of the wedding party is ill, or there has been a death in the family, your first instinct may be to cancel, but it's worth sitting down with your family and asking their opinion first.

Cancelling a wedding and then rescheduling can be incredibly expensive, and it may not make things any better. A loved one who has passed away will still be absent when you reschedule, while an ill member of the wedding party may not want you to cancel at all.

2. Talk to your suppliers
You may be pleasantly surprised by how generous they are. If there's plenty of time until the wedding, they may agree not to charge you a full cancellation fee as long as they get another booking. Even if it's the last-minute, they may agree to charge you a reduced cancellation fee as long as they haven't made any outlays in preparation for your wedding. Wedding suppliers are human too - if you've been left at the altar, they are going to be keen to do anything they can to help.

3. Consider whether you paid by credit card
If you are having to cancel because one of your major suppliers went bust - like the venue - then you won't get anything back from them direct. However, there's still hope if you paid the deposit by credit card, because anything bought on a credit card that costs between £100 and £30,000 is covered by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. It means you can claim the cash back from the credit card company and leave them to claim the cash from the supplier. You can't claim for all the other costs - from the food to the disco - but it's a start.

4. See what you can sell
eBay and Preloved have been home to all kinds of wedding items that have never been used. Everything from wedding dresses and bridesmaids dresses to the rings and the favours can be put up for auction, so you can at least make back some of the cash you have spent on the day.

5. Buy wedding insurance
This won't be much help if you're already at the stage of cancelling, but for anyone else, it's well worth considering. Nobody wants to imagine anything going wrong, and nobody wants to spend even more money on an event that's already breaking the bank, but it's a vital essential.

If the venue cancels at the last minute, or a supplier folds after taking your money, then you'll be grateful you forked out between £19 and £300 in wedding insurance. It will also cover you if anything is lost or stolen, photos and videos fail to materialise, or if you cancel because of an accident, illness or death of a key member of the wedding party. It's worth bearing in mind, however, that it won't cover cold feet.

If you cannot get refunds, and the date is too close for the suppliers to find alternative bookings, then you can talk to a charity about giving your wedding away. Wishforawedding.co.uk and Giftofawedding.org, for example, arrange weddings for people who are terminally ill. They are enormously appreciative of those times when couples cancel a wedding, and they are able to use the bookings to give someone else the day of their dreams. They are also very grateful to those who donate their dresses (used or unused), and have even had honeymoons donated after a wedding is called off.

£20,983 wedding: where the money goes

£20,983 wedding: where the money goes