DEAR STEEL ADVICE: My daughter is getting married in a few months. Her father and I divorced before she was born, and he has had little to do with her over the years. He did agree to come to her wedding and told her to ask him if she ever needed anything. My daughter called him after that conversation and asked him to help pay some of the costs for her wedding. We have not heard from him since then. Should I call him and remind him about what he said and ask him to pay a share of his daughter's wedding expenses?
-- STUCK FOOTING THE BILLS
DEAR STUCK: Your ex-husband does not need a reminder from you. His silence is his answer. There is a wide gap between agreeing to come to a wedding and agreeing to help pay for it. The "if you ever need anything" remark may have been said in an offhanded way and not intended to be taken literally. After years of little contact with you and your daughter this man is not going to come back into your lives riding a white horse and bearing gifts. His presence at the wedding may be as much as you can expect.
DEAR STEEL ADVICE: Is it appropriate for a stepmother to host a bridal shower for her stepson's fiancee? My friend is close with her stepson and learned that no one has planned a bridal shower. My friend would like to have a shower for the bride but does not want to overstep and cause a problem with the groom's mother. The groom's mother would not be invited to the shower because she and the stepmother are not on good terms.
-- WANTING TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT
DEAR WANTING: The stepmother can give a bridal shower. Etiquette rules are less regimented today, and there are multiple creative ways to celebrate. In the interest of good taste, however, the stepmother should not go out and rent a hall and invite her 50 closest friends to a shindig. Her ulterior motive should not be one-upmanship. The dad and stepmom may choose to host a coed shower for the bride and groom. Jack and Jill showers are trendy, and this would be a fun way to recognize and honor the young couple. Animosity between the ex-Mrs. and the present Mrs. is not sufficient reason to put a freeze on a shower.
Need some Steel Advice? Email questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Mary Ann Wellener, Steel Advice Column, c/o Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Follow Mary Ann on Twitter at @PGSteelAdvice.