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Annie: Planning needed for wedding finances

DEAR ANNIE: Our 22-year-old son recently asked his girlfriend to marry him. They have been dating for two years. Now he wants us to meet with her parents to talk about the wedding. The big topic of conversation will likely be finances.

What is the proper way to discuss who pays for what in regards to the wedding? I am not sure how things work these days, and I assume the etiquette has changed over the years. He is our oldest son, and this is our first wedding. -- Parents in Pittsburgh

DEAR PARENTS: Decide how much you are willing to spend (and can afford). Tradition says that the bride pays for such things as the invitations, flowers, photographer and reception costs, while the groom covers the rings, the rehearsal dinner, the officiant's fee and the license. But we don't believe you must stick to that. Some families now split the costs right down the middle. Others split expenses entirely differently, but equitably, e.g., the bride's family covers the venue and the food and the groom's covers the flowers, photographer, liquor and orchestra. The bride's family may have their own ideas about the size and lavishness of the affair, so we urge you to be as agreeable as possible without going into debt. You can start this conversation by saying, "We are so happy the kids are getting married. What sort of event did you have in mind?"

DEAR ANNIE: I read the letter from "Concerned Employee," whose boss is grieving over his wife and is drinking to excess, bringing the small business to ruin. I have a different suggestion.

"Concerned" must be practically running the business. Given that the employee has extensive knowledge of the place and was planning to start a similar business when the current owner retires, it is time for "Concerned" to step up and offer to take over while there is still something left.

I worked for a wonderful boss who promised to pass the business down to me when he retired. That was all fine until he died in his sleep from a heart attack, and I found that there was no plan in place. So the business was closed and I found myself unemployed, with no health insurance or retirement plan, at an age where finding a job with the same benefits and pay was nearly impossible. "Concerned" should take care of his/her own future. -- Learned My Lesson

DEAR LEARNED: You've made an interesting suggestion. We hope the family is willing to consider allowing "Concerned" to buy out the owner.

To write to Annie's Mailbox, send to c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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