Steel Advice: Don't bother parents about bride's actions


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DEAR STEEL ADVICE: I need advice on how to approach an issue. My husband’s sister and family live on Long Island. Their daughter was married last fall. We flew up for the wedding, stayed two nights in a hotel and rented a car. I also attended the shower (several of us drove up for that). And, of course, we gave gifts for both occasions.

The problem? No thank-you notes have been received.

These relatives will be visiting later this summer, and I am wondering how (or if) I should ask why the bride didn’t write notes. I feel like any bride should have the courtesy to take 30 seconds, scribble a “thanks” and slap a stamp on it.

Please advise.

— DISGRUNTLED IN-LAW

DEAR DISGRUNTLED: A bridal veil does not mask rude behavior. You are right to be annoyed. Your niece has a false sense of entitlement because she wore a fancy wedding gown and was showered with gifts and attention. She seems to have forgotten her manners. On the other hand this bride may be so overwhelmed by the very thought of tackling the thank-you note project she is blocking it out of her mind. She knows notes should be sent but cannot get started. She may be cajoling herself with the urban myth that she has up to a year to send a note. She may have told her parents she is working on the notes but realistically she is not organized and the note may never come. Better not to dump on her parents when they visit you this summer. It would put them on the spot and sound like you were being critical of their daughter. Do not go through the backdoor and ask the parents if your gift was received. They know what you are saying. When you next see your niece ask her if she received you wedding gift.

DEAR STEEL ADVICE: My son's fiancee-to-be and her family live in another state. My family lives in various locations around Pennsylvania. In order to give everyone in my family a chance to meet this lovely young woman, I was considering giving them an engagement party in a location that would be most convenient to most of my family. Is this appropriate? I don't want to give a traditional shower as that would leave out the males and many of the great-nieces/nephews.

Also, even though the party would be in Pennsylvania, would we be expected to invite the bride's parents?

Thank you for your help.

— A HAPPY MOTHER OF THE GROOM

DEAR HAPPY MOTHER: If by “fiancee-to-be” you mean your son and the young woman are contemplating taking life’s next big steps together, they are pre-engaged. They may or may not be living together. Jump the gun and invite your extended family to an engagement party and you may scare or annoy the couple. You would be rushing to validate a relationship that may never end up in marriage. A “fiancee-to-be” used to be called a serious girlfriend. Plan a summer gathering for friends and family when you know your son and the young lady will be in town. It is a nice gesture if you include the other parents but not necessary. If the couple are actually engaged, the party easily becomes an engagement party. If your son is not engaged, however, do not put the couple in the spotlight with the entire family as an audience because you want to be a happy mother of the groom. Call the event a family cookout and take things one step at a time.


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