Initially we planned to celebrate the wedding of one of my daughters this past weekend in Seattle. However, a couple months ago the wedding was canceled. Since several family members and friends had already purchased air tickets, we decided to switch the occasion to a birthday celebration. The fickle Seattle weather cooperated and we enjoyed visiting Pike’s Place Market, eating at Via Tribunali, riding the Bremerton ferry, attending the one year anniversary of a dynamic new church, and just hanging out together. We created a pile of happy memories.

The sadness of the canceled wedding was graciously redeemed, but as we moved through the weekend I wondered what lesson we should learn from the circumstances that preceded the adjusted celebration.

The statement I heard most was, “It is better to cancel a wedding than to enter marriage without confidence that it is the right thing to do.”

One of the purposes of the engagement period is to test the relationship between the partners. After two people express their intention to get married, the dynamics of the relationship change. It is only after the marriage commitment is announced that people fully begin to imagine what it will be like to be married to their intended spouse. It is acceptable to back out of a marriage commitment before the wedding and it is better to do so than to proceed and confront irreconcilable differences after the wedding.

I have told my daughters that they are free to back out of their marriage commitment up to the point when they are walking down the isle. After that, their marriage is a permanent contract that is not easily broken. Avoiding a mistake is far less costly than a repairing a mistake.