Traditionally, wedding invitations went out at 6 weeks. 6x7=42 days.
I think it's nice if you can afford it. I, personally, don't know many people who could. They'd WANT to, but practically speaking, there's no way a lot of people could afford to forfeit that money. That said, I think it's wonderful that these particular people could afford to do something so nice. I don't know that it makes them "classy." Generous, yes.
It was non-refundable. So either you could afford it or you shouldn't have planned a more lavish wedding than you could afford.
I re-read the article and I didn't see where it said it was non-refundable. It said they had already paid for it, but 40 days out, I think they most they would lose would be whatever deposit they had made. Of course, we don't know the terms of their contract. They might get nothing back, but we don't know that. I am going by what my experience in these kinds of things is.
I might have $ to spend on a wedding reception. I don't have $--not one dime--to *waste* by simply ceding it to a caterer in return for absolutely nothing.
So there's nothing at all wrong with trying to get as much money back from the caterer as you possibly can.
It's also possible that what they did was spent LESS than the original contract amount. They may have been out the deposit, but they might have been able to make a perfectly nice--though not as elaborate (read: less $)--evening by using up the deposit and maybe spending a little extra.
But even so--there is nothing wrong in the least with wanting to get as much of your money back into your own pocket as possible when you are going to get nothing of value in return.
(the deposit buys something of value, which is the right to reserve that date at the catering hall; that's why it's generally unrefundable)
Did I miss it or is everyone forgetting the third, and probably most common option. That is, to simply cancel the reception totally and forfeit the money. In other words, instead of party without wedding or party for homeless, the most likely choice for couples in this situation is no party at all. Which, for the guests, comes out the exact same way as party for the homeless. No party, plane tickets that can't be canceled, gifts that have to be returned, etc.
It's definitely a case of lemonade from lemons.
This. The wedding was cancelled. Full stop.
Later that evening, people who would have gone hungry were fed. That just cannot be a bad thing in my head.
Definitely not a bad thing.
But your point underlines mine, which is that the wedding was cancelled (which is the etiquette issue), and the feeding of the homeless was not an *etiquette* issue.