Dear Amy: My son and his girlfriend just announced their plans to marry this year. It is the first marriage for both of them and we couldn’t be happier.
We were very surprised, however, when they asked us what contribution we would make toward the wedding.
I had always understood that wedding expenses were the responsibility of the bride’s family, and said so, but they said that was an “out-of-date” custom.
We were blindsided and don’t know how to respond.
Her family is generously giving them a healthy sum to use for wedding, honeymoon, etc. This should be more than enough to cover the wedding costs.
We will host the rehearsal dinner (a traditional groom’s family responsibility) and plan on giving them a nice check for a wedding gift (but not as much as the bride’s contribution).
A couple of years ago, we gave our son most of the down payment on the house they now live in together and feel we have done our share already. That gift was roughly double the funds the bride’s family is giving.
Are we hopelessly out of date?
How do we manage their expectations without causing ill-feelings?
— Dated Parents
Dear Parents: The marrying couple should be responsible for financing their wedding. One way to do this is to ask both sets of parents to contribute and then to plan for the wedding they can afford.
Your son and his fiancée may seem especially bold when it comes to the “asking,” but that’s all they are doing — they are asking.
All they need from you is an answer: “In addition to the sum we gave you for your down payment, we’ll pay for the rehearsal dinner. We were also planning to give you a check for [name the amount] as a wedding gift, and if you would like it now rather than later, let us know.”
This couple is responsible for managing their own expectations. This is “adulting” of the first order.
Dear Amy: This has happened several times since my husband died:
I live alone, and people drop off food for me.
This happens without my knowledge, so I can’t tell them in advance that there are many foods I can’t eat.
I am very grateful that they think of me, but I just don’t really understand the concept.
I am not a shut-in, I am not ill, and I could certainly stand to lose some extra weight.
Today a co-worker knew I was coming home from a weekend away and dropped off a very spicy stew. She texted me to say she had left it at my house.
I opened the container and immediately knew that I would be sick for days if I ate it.
How do I politely thank her but get the message across that I could not eat it?
For the people who feel the need to give others food, please talk to them first to find out what they eat and if they have room to store the food!
Dear Overfed: I can’t imagine how the concept of bringing food to a bereaved person has escaped you. Every region and culture I can think of contains a version of this practice, and although you make a strong case for the burden of receiving food when you haven’t asked for it, and a very good point regarding the challenge of receiving food you cannot consume, I hope you understand that there is a real spirit of generosity behind this effort.
You can thank your co-worker using a version of this: “Thank you so much for dropping off the container of stew! I am so touched that you thought of me. Unfortunately for me, I can’t eat anything spicy, but oh — it smells so good. If I can find room in my freezer, I’m going to save it for a hungry guest. Let me know if you’d like me to return the container. I’m doing well right now, and I am so grateful for your thoughtfulness, but fortunately for me, I’m all set for food.”
Dear Amy: Your response to grandpa bringing his grandkids cookies when he watches them, was ridiculous.
You completely attacked his character, saying he’s lazy and implying that he may exert his “power” in other ways.
That was over the top and a bit dramatic.
Don’t be so lazy with the name-calling.
Dear Disgusted: This grandfather’s choice was to ignore the explicit wishes of the children’s parents. So yes, he seemed like a lazy and disrespectful caregiver.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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