Q. Recently my partner and I got engaged. We’re both women. My parents won’t attend our wedding for religious reasons.
If it was just us paying for the wedding, we’d be going to city hall and a bar afterward with friends. (I am a full-time grad student.)
My partner’s parents are willing to foot the bill. They’ve been supportive of our relationship and my career, treat me like family, and are financially able.
I’m wondering who I can/should invite. I have a large out-of-town family who, unlike my parents, are supportive.
I’m self-conscious about putting people on my in-laws’ tab, while my parents are not participating. I want to express gratitude for their generosity, but expressing any preferences in planning feels bratty. I know I’m running the risk of looking disinterested or ungrateful.
I’d rather avoid it all, but don’t want my partner or her family to suffer from my parents’ absence and their refusal to contribute.
Can you offer some direction?
A. I advocate for couples to finance their own weddings. This involves both parties fully participating to raise the money for their wedding and reception. Couples sometimes do this by going to family members.
In “traditional” weddings, the bride’s parents are expected to pay for the wedding reception, and so you could see this offer as hewing to a traditional practice. They understand that this is a wedding involving you both.
What’s missing here is your participation in the process. Your embarrassment regarding your parents’ rejection seems to be suppressing your own obligation, which is to take part in the planning.
Communicating about this will be good practice for the rest of your marriage. You should express all of your concerns to your partner, and the two of you should have a fully transparent meeting with her parents. (Would any of your extended family members be able and willing to perhaps host a rehearsal dinner? This is something to discuss.)
It’s important to understand that even if her folks are fully financing the wedding, you and your partner have equal rights to review your guest lists and work together to add to your lists — or winnow them down. Depending on the budget, you both may be able to invite everyone you want to invite, and I hope you can.
Q. My ex-fiancee, “Alyse,” dumped me because I have women friends.
There was nothing other than friendship. My interactions with them never affected my time with Alyse, and I was always transparent. Even so, Alyse gave an ultimatum that I drop my women friends, which I refused, and after a while, she ended the relationship.
Part of the problem is Alyse had been seeing a therapist who told her that I “have women friends to feed my ego,” that I “prey on insecure women,” and that I had “an asexual love relationship” with one friend. Her therapist also discouraged Alyse from going to couples counseling with me when I proposed it. Other than that issue, our relationship had been amazing.
We don’t talk now, which is partly my fault, because I, regrettably, blew up when she ended things. However, I miss her like crazy and wonder if I should have given in to her demands and if there’s any way to reconnect.
Do you have any suggestions?
A. It is hard to imagine a therapist advising against joint counseling, unless with an abuser. “Alyse” may have misrepresented her therapist’s views.
You say that your interactions with women friends never affected your time with Alyse, and yet they did, because these relationships brought forth so much insecurity. Regardless, she laid down her non-negotiables and then followed through. That’s the whole point of an ultimatum.
I suspect that if you had given in, other underlying and serious issues would have surfaced. I suggest that you move on.
Q. It is hard to fathom you stated the following in response to a reader regarding tipping: ”I do agree that the whole experience is upside down: Restaurant workers are underpaid, and consumers are expected to foot the bill.”
Of course consumers will foot the bill! “Footing the bill” will be either via tips directly to those who serve us or higher restaurant prices if owners are required to pay more to employees.
It may be time for a refresher econ class.
A. Great point! I should have noted that entrusting a server’s income to consumers instead of employers might be one reason for the staff shortage in restaurants.
Amy Dickinson can be reached at email@example.com.