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DEARAMY » Our old­est son is get­ting mar­ried (for the sec­ond time) next spring.

It is his fi­ancee’s first mar­riage, and I’m happy for her ex­cite­ment (they are in their mid- 40s).

She has asked for my thoughts on wed­ding eti­quette. This is a case where two house­holds are com­ing to­gether. They re­ally do NOT need some of the more tra­di­tional-type gifts.

Is there a spe­cial way for our side of the fam­ily/her friends to honor her with a shower (or a tea) and not seem like it is just an op­por­tu­nity for a gift?

I know you can re­quest do­na­tions to a fa­vorite char­ity in­stead of gifts, but it’s not like they are both wealthy.

They re­ally could use gift cards to­ward a big­ger gift (i.e. at Lowe’s or Home Depot), or cash gifts to help with a larger pur­chase. — Won­der­ing MIL

DEARWONDERING » The first thing you need to do is to re­fine your own con­cepts for how to cel­e­brate the wed­ding for this first­time bride. It sounds as if you don’t want for any shower to seem like a gift op­por­tu­nity — and yet, it also seems as if you do. And why not? One func­tion of a pre-wed­ding shower is to “shower” the cou­ple with gifts.

When plan­ning cel­e­bra­tions, be aware that con­fu­sion about the in­tent or pur­pose will cre­ate a vac­uum that guests will not know how to han­dle. So yes, you can plan a tra­di­tional tea (“no gifts, please” or: “the cou­ple would be honored by a do­na­tion to Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity”); a “linen shower” or “kitchen shower” (ev­ery cou­ple can use new house­hold linens or kitchen items — they can regis­ter for what they would like to re­ceive, and then do­nate their used ones).

Peo­ple being asked to con­trib­ute money like to be told what the money is for: “Guests are being asked to do­nate to a house­hold fund to help de­fray mov­ing ex­penses” or “to put to­ward the newly mar­ried cou­ple tak­ing the kids on their first va­ca­tion as a fam­ily.” ( What­ever the funds are ear­marked for the cou­ple should use them for that pur­pose only, and the guests should be thanked promptly and specif­i­cally for their gen­eros­ity.)

For this cou­ple, I like the idea of a “DIY” or “life ren­o­va­tion” party. Guests can be told, “Be­cause they are com­bin­ing house­holds, El­yse and Gary are re­quest­ing gift cards to (name their pre­ferred home im­prove­ment store) to put to­ward mak­ing Gary’s house a new home for the whole fam­ily.”

DEARAMY » I liked your ad­vice to “Wor­ried Dad” about how to han­dle his mother’s smok­ing, and the pos­si­ble ef­fect on his baby. Nei­ther one of you in­sisted that the mother stop smok­ing.

Your idea of a “smok­ing jacket” is a great one. We pro­vided this for one of my par­ents (along with gloves), and ev­ery­one feels much bet­ter about con­tact with the kids. — Been There

DEAR BEEN THERE » I now know why all of those movie stars in the ‘30s used cig­a­rette hold­ers and smok­ing jack­ets!

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