Illinois recently passed a law that eliminates lawsuits called “Heart Balm Actions” which are lawsuits
people file to try to be made whole for the events that break hearts such as alienation of affections, breaches of promises to marry, and criminal conversation (lawyer speak for a claim for money based on adultery). Beginning January 1, 2016, Illinois will no longer have these actions. Even before this law was passed, recovery in these kinds of actions was rare in Illinois. However, the change in Illinois law act does make one think about what people can do to prevent the loss of money, if not the loss of love, that these kinds of turns of events cause in people’s lives.
With the wedding industry commanding significant dollars and attention and the need to plan well in advance of a wedding event to get what one wants on that special day, those paying for weddings have good reason to be concerned about what happens if the “I do’s” don’t proceed. Just because there are no more suits allowed for breach of promise to marry does not mean that individuals who plan to marry cannot enter into agreements to allocate financial responsibility for what should happen in the event their wedding does not proceed. There is also an ability to allocate who signs each of the contracts to pay the service and venue providers hired for the wedding to spread the liability around. Such agreements could conceivably run both between people engaged to be married and/or their parents or others providing funding for the event. Having things in place to allocate the costs of a wedding gone awry does not mean that if the event takes place as planned, people can not allocate costs differently than what they agree to do if there is a cancellation.
If wedding planners can enter in contracts to provide services and insist on cancellation penalties and the like, why shouldn’t those whose money is on the line be able to do the same thing? Some might say the notion of discussing what could happen if a marriage doesn’t proceed is unromantic, but having frank discussions about taking responsibility for one’s choices should not be dismissed out of hand. Having a broken heart is bad enough, but a broken heart and an empty wallet is even worse.