18 Comments

  1. Julia Colvin

    Dear Emily,

    I am a divorced, single woman and have been so for ten years. I am friends with a married, male business professional. We have had a professional relationship for about ten years. For the first seven years we worked very closely together, in the past three years we have not, as his services were not as necessary. During the past three years we have exchanged emails occasionally and phone calls even more rarely, usually regarding business matters. Because we worked so closely together for so long, we are now friends. Last week I got an email asking me to have dinner with him. Is he asking me for a date? As far as I know, he is married. I am not. I am not interested in being party to an affair. Am I reading too much into this? Is it okay for friends to catch up over dinner regardless of their marital statuses? How should I respond?

    • Alicia

      Most likely it is just dinner. It is normal for friends to catch up over dinner regardless of marital status or dating. I would not assume date or seduction without more evidence to the contrary. I am not saying it is not an attempt of seduction but the very likely option is no. Be professional and friendly but not date like and likely it will just be a nice dinner with a friend.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      It is acceptable for a married man to have a platonic dinner with a woman. Most likely that is all he is looking for, but to ensure that he’s clear on your intentions I suggest saying something like, “That sounds fun! Will your wife be joining us? I’d love to meet her.”

      • Cyra

        I think Winifred’s response is perfect. Then even if he replies, “Unfortunately my wife is committed elsewhere that evening” you have set the standard that you do not consider this a date.

  2. mother of the groom

    Our son proposed to his girlfriend this month and they want to have their expensive wedding next year… the same year as our 25th Anniversary. We can only afford to either go on our 25th Anniversary trip that we have been dreaming of for years or help pay for the wedding. I feel that we shouldn’t have to give in and celebrate our milestone another year as other have so rudely suggested to us. Are we right in standing firm in our plans and putting our special year first or should we give in gracefully and spend the money on them? My husband and I want to tell them we have our money allocated towards our Anniversary trip and will not be able to help if they choose to get married that year also.
    Thanks!

    • Alicia

      The only people who are obligated to pay for a wedding are the bride and groom. If you wish to pay or not pay as a gracious gift it is up to you to decide to offer. Your son and his bride to be have no right to your wallet. You can decide to give or not give a gift of money for a wedding for whatever reason you wish. So you are not selfish to decide not to pay for whatever reason you wish be it a 25th anniversary trip or whatever other reason.
      Your son and his bride would be selfish in the extreme to view your money as theirs to command without your consent.

    • Jody

      I agree with Alicia — you are definitely *not* selfish here. The 25th anniversary trip is something you had previously planned and saved for, not something you’re doing just to avoid your son’s wedding. Your son and his bride can have their wedding next year if they want, but they need to understand you won’t be paying for it. In my opinion, brides/grooms should scale the wedding to what they can afford.

    • Elizabeth

      I agree with J and A that no one may demand money from you at any time or for any reason, and that you are perfectly within your right (and within the bounds of etiquette) to decline to spend money on anything you do not wish.

      That being said, there’s something funny (odd) with your letter. You sound a bit judgmental of your son’s “expensive” wedding, and it sounds as if you think he’s selfish for getting married during the same year as your 25th anniversary. Would you really like your son to put his marriage on hold for a year? Would you really feel good about helping with the wedding next year? Most parents are quite thrilled when their children decide to marry and none of that comes through here.

      I don’t know what your situation is like with your son or with your finances, but you will probably maintain a much better relationship with him and his future wife if you can find a way to pay for at least one thing that the groom’s side usually funds, such as the rehearsal dinner. It need not be lavish or expensive, but some kind of token like this would probably make your son feel as though you were happy for him and cared about his marriage.

      • mother of the groom

        I guess I am more frustrated than judgemental. It sounds like the wedding will be in the tens of thousands of dollars and while I am happy for my son, but my husband and I have been planning and looking forward to our special day for years now and we are told to put that off now.. that this wedding is more important. I’m sorry but I think that is selfish!
        We make good money but can’t afford the 25th Anniversary trip plus half the expensive wedding and we don’t want to put anything on credit to do both.
        I don’t want to concede to a nice dinner in town when we have been very vocal about our plans for our Anniversary. We’ve been told to celebrate it the following year.. well that’s our 26th Anniversary not our 25th. We have always been supportive of our son, why can’t they both respect this special milestone in our life? Oh top of being asked to pay almost half there is the honeymoon also… is that really something we have to pay for?

        • Elizabeth

          Your situation is very different than the situation I had with my parents. My parents had a set amount saved for my (and my sister’s wedding), and my parents were very explicit about what they could and couldn’t pay for. I was lucky that they didn’t have to make a choice between spending money on me or on them. That’s just really awkward. My family is also different in that they don’t put huge stock in milestones like that, and they tend to take trips when they want to and don’t necessarily tie them to a milestone celebration. So, I’m just being honest that it’s a little hard for me to understand what the big deal is about the trip, but clearly it’s important to you and that’s ok, and I’m not trying to tell you differently. There IS a list of things that are “traditionally” paid for by the groom’s parents, but many of them are outdated – and the honeymoon is at the top of that list. Most couples pay for their own honeymoon now, which is as it should be.

          It sounds like your son is asking you for a very large amount (half a wedding, a honeymoon, etc), more than one could really ever spend on a single trip. It sounds like you wouldn’t be willing or able to spend that kind of money anyway. You aren’t obligated to fund half a wedding in any case, and I think you don’t need to justify how you spend your money. However, I don’t know why it has to be an all-or-nothing prospect. When you wrote that you “don’t want to concede to a nice dinner in town,” were you referring to the rehearsal dinner? I’m not sure why that would be a concession. Would a moderate rehearsal dinner really break the bank or cause your vacation plans to change drastically? (I can absolutely see how funding half the wedding would do that, but a smaller thing seems doable.) I’m just suggesting that you focus on what you CAN do rather than what you CAN’T do. And I’m suggesting that you should do something, even if it’s not on the order of paying for half the wedding.

          You can say something like this to your son (who it sounds like is expecting much more than you’ll give): “Son, I’m so sorry, but we won’t be able to afford to pay for a big chunk of the wedding as you were expecting. However, we are very happy for you and we want to help in a way that is possible for us, which is that we’d like to host the rehearsal dinner (or pay for the band, or whatever else you can do).”

          • Mother of the groom

            We take a vacation every year but this trip was special to us. Family members are suggesting we concede to a nice dinner in town and do more than the grooms’ side of the responsibilites. We have no problem with paying for the rehersal dinner, flowers, tuxs.. etc. it’s paying for half of a 20,000 to 30,000 wedding next year when that should be the brides’ family responsibility and if they can’t do it they should be the ones to tell their daughter to scale it back. I don’t think it’s our place to say sorry but we can’t pay 10,000+ for the wedding when they are planning it so close to our trip.
            It sounds like your parents didn’t put any pressure on your husband’s family to do more than required of them?
            If this were our daughter’s wedding, I would be embarrassed to tell her fiance’s family to change plans to help pay our costs.
            It’s not an all or nothing prospect for us…. but it is for the kids. Our trip is encroaching on their plans and if we would just cancel we could easily give them more money.

          • Elizabeth

            Hmmm….I don’t agree with you that the wedding is “the bride’s family’s responsibility.” That sentiment is just as wrong as their telling YOU to pay for it. Again, my situation was different. Both sets of parents were very invested in what the wedding would be as an event, because they were both inviting a lot of people and very much cared how it turned out. Both of them wanted certain things which they ended up paying for (in order to be sure of getting them). For instance: my in-laws really wanted a Greek band, while my parents really wanted this DJ who was their customer. So they both got what they wanted. My family was happy with a beautiful wedding cake as dessert, but my in-laws wanted additional pastries (so they paid for them). I would say that my husband’s side paid about 40% of the wedding costs, but that’s just an estimate. That’s neither here nor there, though, and doesn’t mean anything for your situation, I was just answering your question about the expectations from my family.

            I think the mistake you made was making it a decision between your trip and the wedding. You have ‘JADEd’, which means that you ‘justified, argued, defended, explained.’ By doing so you open yourself up to challenges to those explanations. I think you need to present the subject as closed, and tell your son in very clear terms what you’re willing to do (even if that’s just show up) and what you’re unable to do.

            He is of course entitled to his opinions of your decision, though. Further, just know that you will then be in absolutely no position to make any demands of the wedding whatsoever. If you try to argue for more of your side being invited, if you want something particular on the menu, if you know your guests would prefer the upgraded bar package and ask for it, you will be laughed out of the room. So just know that you are abdicating the possibility of expressing any opinion whatsoever on the wedding.

        • Alicia

          You do not need to pay for anything. Offer your son and his fiances what you are willing to offer them be that thousands of dollars or just your warm wishes and then let them plan the wedding they want. The only people who must pay are the bride and groom. You do not have to skip your own plans. Talk to your husband you two should decide what you want to offer them and they can either scale back or figure out how to pay the difference themselves.

  3. Yvonne Kibbee

    When is the wedding couples first dance – If toasts are done at beginning of reception can cake cutting and first dance be at end of dinner before dessert?
    Thank you.

    • Alicia

      Order can be whatever they desire but most common is
      Intro, toasts, dinner , 1st dance , a few dances with everybody, cake cutting, more dancing , cake served, more party and dancing

    • Elizabeth

      Many venues require you to cut the cake right after the wedding party makes its entrance, well before dinner. That’s so they can take the cake back into the kitchen and cut it up in time to serve it as dessert. Sometimes the first dance will take place at this time as well, largely for expediency’s sake.

  4. Jennifer

    My sister-in-law is expecting her first child. Since I already have 2 children, she has also asked me for suggestions on her registry. In thinking through this, we have encountered a question: Up to what age is it acceptable to register for baby gifts? 9 months? 12months? For example, are onesise in the 9, and 12 month sizes okay? Also – this might be pushing it – but what about a travel potty seat that folds flat? Thank you kindly for your input.

    • Alicia

      Well people will buy clothes of their own taste so I always think it not practical to register for specific outfits regardless of size. I would register for items in the first year unless already have a ton of handme downs such that have everything for first year ( which may be case if you are giving her a lot of hand me downs) and then first two years.
      But why store something for two years when you could have asked for something that would be used during that time. Babies as you know go through a lot of stuff in the first year.

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