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Wedding's off and the deposits are gone

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Sunday, March 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn:

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 non-refundable deposits on 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 move on; she would rather not get involved with his family.

Because 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.

It is hard for me to let this money go, through no fault of my family. Any advice?

— Canceled

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 “no fault of my family” road, because, for example, your daughter might been immersed in signs that her beloved was cheating on her, and so her wishful thinking 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 part of a process of self-examination — but I'm putting it out there as a caution against such 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. They didn't say a word about the money, and I can't tell you how much that meant to me. I was humiliated and devastated and needed more emotional support than I let on. I imagine your daughter is feeling something similar.

— Anonymous

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 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 DJ to a nursing home unit at the VA. Send the caterer to a shelter.

— D. (Via Facebook)

Even brillianter.

Email Carolyn Hax at, or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

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