Wedding Etiquette Q&A part 1


So no doubt a lot of you have heard about the 72-day marriage of Kim Kardashian.  In case you’ve been living under a rock (in which case, you’re lucky!), here’s the break-down: Super elaborate wedding with celebrity couple, corporate endorsements and multi-million dollar distribution deals goes sour.

Kardashan Humphries Wedding

Amidst all of this, a friend recently asked me, “So, does she have to return the wedding gifts?”

Ah! Very good question! And this leads to my first post of Wedding Etiquette Q&A:

  • If the marriage breaks up shortly after the wedding, is the couple obligated to return the wedding gifts to the giver?

The short answer is: Yes! If the marriage lasts less than 6 months, it is customary to return any unused wedding gifts to the gift-giver. A handwritten note expressing thanks for the gift and informing them that the marriage has been dissolved should also be included. The same goes for monetary gifts or contributions to an online registry.

  • What about the wedding ring, does the bride have to return that to the groom?

Since the wedding rings are meant to be the first gifts a husband and wife give to each other, the bride does not have to return the wedding ring to the groom (or vice versa).

  • Who gets the engagement ring if the engagement is called off?

Give Back Engagement Ring

Believe it or not, this is actually a legal matter and the answer will vary depending on the laws in your Province or State.

In Alberta, an engagement (and the giving/receiving of an engagement ring) is viewed as a contract between the giver of the ring and the recipient . In the event that an engagement is called off, the other person can actually sue the other for Breach of Promise and damages could be awarded only if the other party suffered financial losses in anticipation of the marriage (i.e.: if they lost out on deposits made in preparation of the upcoming wedding).

By tradition, if the engagement is broken off by the recipient of the ring (traditionally the bride), then they should return the ring to the giver. However if the giver of the ring breaks off the engagement, without fault of the recipient , then the recipient can keep the engagement ring.

  •  If a wedding gets called off, can I get my money back from vendors?

The general answer to this question is: No.  However, many factors come into play here; particularly how close you are to the actual wedding date when the wedding is called off, whether or not you have a prime venue or prime wedding date, and the reason for why you are calling off the wedding.

Typically, vendors take a deposit in order to reserve the date and the product/service for you. (Technically speaking, the term “deposit” implies that it can be returned in certain situations as dictated by the vendor. A “deposit” is no to be confused with a “non-refundable deposit” or a “partial” or “initial payment”.)

Depending on when you call the wedding off, the vendor may not be able to find someone else to step in and take your wedding date and therefore, they will be out that money.  In those situations, they are not likely to return your deposit. If your vendor is not very well-known, or your wedding date is not highly sought-after, you may be able to ask them about having a portion of your deposit returned to you. But this is at the discretion of every vendor, and no two are the same.

My rule of thumb: It doesn’t hurt to ask. What’s the worst that could happen? They say “no”…but then again, you knew that was a possibility. You never know until you ask.


Have you got a question about Wedding etiquette? Feel free to send them to me at: or post them on our Facebook wall.