Wed­ding eti­quette: From gift re­quests to fam­ily dra­mas

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY STYLE - Carolyn Hax Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@wash­post.com. Sub­scribe at www.face­book.com/carolyn­hax.

That time again?

Dear­est Carolyn ( just sounded bet­ter): My daugh­ter would like to re­quest cash vs. the usual wed­ding gifts.

How would you go about word­ing this re­quest? We are try­ing not to sound too harsh. I thought I read about this idea in one of your pre­vi­ous col­umns. — T.

Try­ing to soften me up?

Dear­est T. The phras­ing you seek is as fol­lows: “The bride and groom don’t want your stuff; they just want your money.”

“Too harsh,” right? That’s the point: There’s no po­lite way to bill guests for lik­ing you, pat their pock­ets for loose change or co­erce them into paying your bills. So, please don’t try. Thank you.

If you read about this in my col­umn, then you read some ver­sion of this. My an­swer hasn’t changed; I just re­peat it oc­ca­sion­ally since the ques­tion won’t die.

When cou­ples have a good rea­son not to want vases and can­dle­sticks, then their prox­ies can say so when asked for reg­istry info: “Heckle and Jeckle are com­bin­ing two house­holds/down­siz­ing/re­lo­cat­ing overseas, so your pres­ence is present enough.” Be­cause it is, right?

Or, to your friends, good ones, when they ask: “Cash al­ways fits.”

Dear Carolyn: Two cousins are

en­gaged. One cousin has been plan­ning a lav­ish wed­ding for more than a year, and sent out “save the date” cards nine months in ad­vance. Cousin 2 be­came en­gaged days ago. The grapevine buzz is that Cousin 2 plans to marry in haste (no, she’s not preg­nant), squeez­ing her af­fair in be­fore Cousin 1’s wed­ding. I’m of­fended; Cousin 2 will “steal the thun­der” from Cousin 1.

Am I “act­ing old” by be­ing of­fended? I’m stress­ing over what should be joy­ous fam­ily cel­e­bra­tions. — Act­ing Old?

You are act­ing old, but only by in­sert­ing the “no, she’s not preg­nant” par­en­thet­i­cal (and by putting two spa­ces af­ter the pe­ri­ods in your let­ter, but I fixed that).

The rest is just fret­ting where there needn’t be any, and that’s age­less.

I sup­pose there’s the slight­est of slim chances Cousin 2 is ac­tu­ally try­ing to get un­der Cousin 1’s skin. If she is, then, well, imag­ine what her mar­riage will be like; it will pun­ish her for her child­ish­ness so ef­fec­tively that any fam­ily cen­sure will just be pil­ing on.

But if Cousin 2 is not oth­er­wise an at­ten­tion-grab­bing twit, then please as­sume Cousin 2 merely wants to get started on mar­ried life with­out de­lay­ing it for a wall cal­en­dar’s worth of event­plan­ning. As long as she’s not forc­ing guests to choose one wed­ding over the other, call this a tale of two styles and raise an un­trou­bled glass to them both.

Dear Carolyn: My fi­ance and I are cur­rently in the fi­nal stages of plan­ning our dream wed­ding, which we have saved and paid for our­selves.

It just came to my at­ten­tion that my mother has told my older sis­ter and her chil­dren they will be in the wed­ding. My fi­ance and I pre­fer a small wed­ding party with no chil­dren.

I have al­ready asked my younger sis­ter to be my maid of honor, as we are close. My older sis­ter and I barely speak, and when we do, it’s al­ways my reach­ing out to her.

For the past week, my mother has been pres­sur­ing me to reach out to my older sis­ter, who is feel­ing left out of the fes­tiv­i­ties. I have tried call­ing her on sev­eral oc­ca­sions only to be hung up on. I’ve left mes­sages with­out a re­sponse.

At what point do I tell my mom enough is enough and she needs to clean up the mess she cre­ated by telling my sis­ter and her fam­ily they all had a part in my wed­ding? — Over the Drama

That point came the moment you learned of your mother’s med­dling. Wow.

For­tu­nately, the moment hasn’t passed. You still can, and must, say to your mother: “You have se­ri­ously over­stepped and put me in a ter­ri­ble po­si­tion. We are pro­ceed­ing with our wed­ding as planned. I will not be black­mailed.

“Mean­while, I’ve tried to reach out to Sis­ter 1, and she hangs up on me. I will keep try­ing to re­pair our re­la­tion­ship — be­cause I want to, not be­cause you’re pres­sur­ing me to, and not with my wed­ding as a bar­gain­ing chip.”

About that wed­ding. I re­al­ize hav­ing Sis­ter 2 at your side is the way th­ese mile­stone events are “sup­posed” to go. How­ever, you have a frac­tured fam­ily, which means a pub­lic kum­baya state­ment to one sib is a full-face slap to the other.

I’m not sug­gest­ing you blow up your plans. I merely ad­vise that you rec­og­nize the power of your fa­vor and grant it with a more care­ful eye to fam­ily-wide cause and ef­fect. If noth­ing else, there are chil­dren here who wound up on the wrong side of this mess. Take care not to let your frus­tra­tion with Sis­ter 1 and your mom seep into your tone with the kids.

NICK GAL­I­FI­ANAKIS FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

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