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

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.

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£20,983 wedding: where the money goes
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£20,983 wedding: where the money goes

This is the biggest expense, and accounts for 16% of everything couples spend on the wedding. There are endless dramatic places to splash the cash, and if you want to get married in a castle, on a beach, or in a major historic property, it’s all perfectly possible - for a price.

However, there will be those who wonder why the wedding can’t take place in a church or a smart registry office - and the reception in a village hall. These places certainly exist, and could cut the venue hire cost down to a couple of hundred pounds.

It’s not hard to see why couples fancy blowing a fortune on an incredible holiday, but it begs the question of whether it’s such a practical idea.

There’s no earthly reason why two such enormous costs have to be bunched together like this. Surely a wiser approach would be to get married, and then start saving for a great holiday. You don't have to be on a white beach in the sun for it to be romantic or memorable.

This is a huge sum for feeding a few people, and is often the result of the fact that when you are booking a venue, you will be tied into using their caterer.

It’s one reason why a fantastic way to cut costs is to find a venue that lets you do it yourself. That way you can choose between setting out a cold buffet in the morning on a shoestring, or hiring in a cut-price catering option, like a gourmet burger or pizza van.

This includes the cost of an engagement ring and two wedding rings. There will be couples who argue that this is something that you’ll wear every day for the rest of your life, so is worth investing in.

There will be others who highlight that by shopping around you can get the lot (including the obligatory diamond) for less than £400, and anything else is pure vanity.

This includes a heart-stopping £1,098 for the bride’s dress. Just to be clear, that’s a grand for a dress you wear once.

There are hundreds of second hand dresses on sale on sites like preloved if you’re after the big meringue, or you could get one made from scratch for a couple of hundred pounds. Then if you sell it on again afterwards, your dress could cost you less than 20% of this insane figure.

If you’re stuck buying the overpriced booze offered by a posh venue, you’ll easily bust the budget, and if you bring your own to a venue like this they’ll sting you for corkage instead.

A much better idea is to find somewhere that lets you bring your own - and after the first few drinks, ask a local pub to run a bar for you.

The argument in favour of spending a fortune on photos is that this is one aspect of the day that really will last, and if you skimp on the photographer, you won't have a beautiful album to linger over for decades to come.

That said, you'll probably have one hour of looking at your best during your wedding - from when you walk down the aisle, to the moment you have finished taking the obligatory formal photos. There’s nothing stopping you bringing in a professional for that hour, and then setting up a Facebook page for your friends to post all the photos they take throughout the rest of the day and night.

The live band feels vital for some couples, but ask yourself, when was the last time you were blown away by the live band at a wedding?

A far cheaper option is to make your own disco. It’s easy enough to hire some speakers and lights, switch it all on, plug an MP3 player in, and get your favourite music all night for next to nothing.

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