How To Cancel Your Wedding and Elope

So, you’re knee-deep in planning your traditional wedding and you’re overwhelmed by all the complicated details of the process. I hear you — it’s a lot to deal with, and no one should be dealing with that kind of stress on their wedding day. One of the biggest hang-ups I see couples dealing with is the sunk cost fallacy when it comes to the cost of transitioning a wedding to an elopement. A sunk cost refers to a cost that has already occurred and has no potential for recovery in the future. This leads couples down the road of keeping their original plans for a wedding because they feel they have lost so much already – like deposits, for example. I preach to my couples that no matter your “sunk costs” it is never too late to make a change in plans! Don’t let anything get in the way of what you want for your epic day. 

So maybe you are done with the traditional wedding planning stress.

Maybe you’re realizing that you and your partner’s idea of a perfect wedding isn’t the one you’re planning.

Either way, you’ve decided to cancel your wedding and elope.

This blog can help you navigate both the emotional and the logistical parts of changing your traditional wedding plans into a less stressful elopement. This isn’t without its challenges — especially when it comes to reorganizing wedding plans.  Remember, you don’t owe ANYONE an explanation; regardless of your reasons for canceling, they are valid. You should be focused on what makes you and your partner happy for your special day.

Evaluate your contracts 

This can seem like a scary step, but it’s an important and courteous one. Remember your vendors are people too, with lives and businesses to run. They know life happens and things change, and most of the time vendors will be willing to work with you. So, assemble a list of vendors you’ve been working with, and see what contracts you’ve signed, and then you’ll want to look for any cancellation or rescheduling clause addressing moving your date (to a date for your new elopement, or canceling). Since the pandemic, most vendors have incorporated a policy for these kinds of last-minute changes. It is a matter of reading the contracts and talking to the vendors themselves about what the options are. 

how to cancel your wedding and elope - umpqua national forest elopement

Make a list of the most important things you want

Sit down with your partner (and maybe your favorite beverage), and talk about your must-haves for your new elopement plan by creating a list. This can include particular vendors, special ceremony aspects, photography, having an epic adventure in the woods, etc. This will help both of you identify your priorities and make your day that much more special. 

Start updating vendors

It’s super important to notify your already booked vendors about your change in plans. They will be willing to be more flexible with date changes if you provide them with as much notice as possible. If you have a wedding planner, they might be able to help you coordinate the communication with the other vendors as well. One upside of notifying and adjusting vendors first is that if you are aware that your family may talk you into keeping the larger wedding, you can fall back on the fact that your vendors are already rescheduled to accommodate this new vision.

Speaking of vendors…

Update your Friends and Family 

The next big step can be a hard one, but it is really important to let your family and friends know that your wedding plans have changed. If you’ve sent out save the date cards, just let people know about your change in plans. Remember, if these people you had invited to your special day aren’t cool with a change of plans, reconsider your relationship with them. Everyone in your life should be accepting of your change of plans. Pro tip: you don’t have to be the one who breaks the news to each person you’ve invited, enlist the help of your partner or a close family member to help get the word out. 

Evaluate the flexibility of your vendors 

This is a big one! Of course, you probably want to keep as many of the vendors you love on board for your new planned elopement, but that can be hard when most vendors book 6 months to a year in advance. Sometimes you get lucky with their availability or they have an associate to attend your date at your new location. The only way to really know is to consult with them, and check out your options to see if you can cancel your wedding and elope with most, if not all of your OG vendors.

Meaghan of Black Fern Beauty is a fantastic elopement hair and makeup artist

Book any replacement/additional vendors

Now is the time for you to start researching other potential vendors you might want to add into your new elopement plan. You might also want to keep your original vendors involved in your day, and that’s understandable. You picked your vendors because they are awesome and you want to have them be part of your new elopement plan. One thing to keep in mind is it might be good to evaluate if your current list of vendors has elopement-specific experience. Having vendors that are specified in the field of elopements can help you out a lot! The other important thing to note is choosing vendors who are physically close to your elopement destination. For example, a florist can’t travel very far with fresh flowers. I can’t count how many times I’ve been contacted by wedding colleagues (or event couples themselves) wanting extensive elopement assistance because they chose to go with their photographer who wasn’t familiar with elopement aspects (like permits, locations, and  LNT info). 

Cancel Your Wedding and Elope – Make your new elopement plan! 

You’ve nearly made it to the finish line! All the cancellation work should be done by this point, meaning it’s time to start planning your epic elopement! It’s likely you’re on a tight timeline if you’ve decided to elope sooner than your original wedding was planned for, but that’s ok —  it’s possible to quickly put together the adventure elopement of your dreams, particularly if you’re enlisting the help of an adventure elopement photographer or planner.

cancel your wedding and elope

The main things to keep in mind are:

  • Date
  • Location
  • Photographer
  • Other vendors
  • Attire 

So, why are these important, and why are they in this order?

These aspects of your new planned elopement are really important and will give you a good roadmap for a successful day. For example, choosing a date and location are a priority because those will determine a lot of other things like vendor availability and your travel plans. Choosing your photographer is a huge determining factor in your planning, plus they can help you with so many other things during your epic day. Attire is important when it comes time to pack for the big day, you’ll need to be sure you have the right type of shoes if you plan to hike or go on another adventure. 

It can be a difficult thing to cancel your wedding and elope. You’ve made a hard decision, but the most important thing is that it brings you joy! You and your partner should be proud of the decision to elope and the teamwork it takes to make such a big decision.

My Favorite Elopement Locations

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Want to learn more ways to make your elopement as easy as possible? Check out my feature here on elopement dresses, and this one on the cost of a traditional wedding versus an elopement.