Sorry, I should have been clearer in my original response about not letting something go out if you are not happy with it. I would not skip a cake or leave someone without a cake for an event, ever.
The point I was trying to make was about your design & technique. When a customer orders fondant & you are unable to provide a final product that is up to your standards then you may be better off to change to buttercream.
If the technique you are using isnt working & is causing a major problem that ruins the cake then you should stop & change.
The bride probably would have complained anyway, but would this cake have looked better in buttercream? If the fondant work was as bad as the OP stated, then it may have been better to switch to a cleaner look before the cake went out the door.
It only got worse as it went along.
I knew when I posted it not everyone would agree, but I still think if you know in your gut you are putting out a bad product you should stop & fix it.
Even if that means changing away from fondant because your fondant isnt working that day for whatever reason.
Cracked fondant, uneven ribbons and holes to cover may have been avoided if she swicthed to a different plan when it was not meeting her standard.
Then she could have refunded the bride the difference between fondant and buttercream or refunded the whole thing, but there would not be pictures out there of work that showed her in a negative light.
JMHO In this internet world that bride may be sending pix all over of a cake this OP was not happy with and that could hurt business even more. A picture is worth a thousand words.
I say this with the greatest respect of the OP and her feelings. This stinks, but in the end maybe there is a lesson to be gained.