Bad Advice On Wedding Tornadoes And Thunder-Stealing Relatives

Welcome to our latest Bad Advice column! Stay tuned every Tuesday for more terrible guidance based on actual letters.
“My fiance and I have been planning our wedding for two years. Both of us are working our butts off at two jobs to pay for all the elaborate details. It will, after all, be the most beautiful day of my life.
My fiance’s sister just got engaged and I’m happy for her. But now she’s talking about having her wedding ‘around the same time as ours’ to make it convenient for our distant relatives. My concern is that they’re going to ‘steal our moment.’
I feel very hurt, but I’m not sure how to approach her because I don’t want to cause conflict. It would make so much more sense for them to be married the following year. On the other hand, it’s their prerogative to do it whenever they want. Am I being unreasonable?”
—From “UNREASONABLE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE” via “Dear Abby,” 26 December 2016

Dear Unreasonable in New Hampshire:

There’s nothing unreasonable about realizing that your future sister-in-law has forgotten some basic facts about how the world works. Firstly, there is a finite amount of joy in the world, and this woman seems intent on siphoning off the measly portion allotted to you. People only have so much happiness they can feel, and any two weddings occurring within weeks of each other would reduce the amount of goodwill guests are able to share with each couple. Everyone but your future-SIL knows that goes double for family weddings, which people always enjoy more if they are spaced further apart, because of the ancient blood magic that can only be replenished with time and the increased expense of making costly travel arrangements year after year.

There is a finite amount of joy in the world, and this woman seems intent on siphoning off the measly portion allotted to you.

Secondly, and this is by far the more appalling error, your future-SIL has neglected to honor you as the first bride of all time. By scheduling her own wedding in close temporal proximity to yours, she runs the risk of overshadowing your pioneering decision to enter into wedlock, which will be forgotten if anyone else gets married before you’ve given them your permission to do so. You deserve to enjoy an entire year of being the only married person on earth before any and all memory of your wedding is erased from the minds of your mutual family members by your copycat sister-in-law.

You, and not your attention-seeking SIL, are the arbiter of when is the right time for her to begin her marriage. It’s a sorry situation that she’s so self-obsessed that she can’t just go get married when you tell her it is convenient for her, but wedding planning can put blinders on the best of us.

“‘Baffled Bride’ didn’t know what to do about the guests who didn’t leave a gift at her wedding.
Asking someone outright if they sent a gift could be embarrassing for everyone if the answer is ‘No.’
Here’s how I handled it: I wrote a note to all of our wedding guests, saying, ‘Your presence at our wedding was such a beautiful gift. Thank you for being there to celebrate with us!’ If they had sent a gift, this was a subtle way of telling them we hadn’t received it. If they hadn’t sent a gift, they got the appropriate thank-you for making the effort to attend.”
-From “Happy Bride” via “Ask Amy,” Washington Post, 21 January 2017

Dear Happy Bride,

The grabby, registry-obsessed brides of the world could learn a thing or two from you about the subtle art of casually mailing dozens of people a letter about what a gift their gift-presence was during your wedding, at which it was a gift to have the gift of their presence, itself a gift. Certainly had you asked people directly whether they’d sent a gift — thereby signaling your interest in gifts, a thing you have skillfully avoided doing by contacting people en masse to make sure the words “gift” and “wedding” spend a few prominent moments before their eyes — all parties would be risking embarrassment. As it is, you’ve cleverly done it in such a way as to ensure that just one side looks foolish.

“What would Miss Manners advise people do if a tornado warning were to be announced during a wedding/party/etc.?”
— Via “Miss Manners,” Washington Post, 22 January 2017

Gentle Reader,

A quandary for the ages! There are few questions whose answers have been as hotly debated as this one, among them “Should the toilet roll fold over or under?” and “Should we punch Nazis?” On the one hand, there’s a party to go to, but on the other hand, you’re in potentially mortal danger. Free champagne, or your life?

Free champagne, or your life?

This is among the most difficult, most personal decisions anyone can make, and far be it from advice columnists to dictate the answer to the general public. Only you can determine whether to preserve your own personal safety or keep the conga line going.

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