Tag Archives: wedding

The Courage to Call Off the Wedding

Typically, I like my quiet time on a plane. But I couldn’t resist talking with the passenger next to me.  She volunteered that was getting away after calling off her wedding.

Her name was Ellen and she was in her late thirties. This would have been her second marriage. “It’s almost as complicated to call it off as it is to put it together,” she said. “Strange how everyone seems to take my decision personally. My parents,  my daughter, friends and co-workers, all trying to reassure me that it’s natural to feel nervous before your wedding. They’re saying that my fiancée is a good man, that I’m not getting any younger, that I always wanted to have another child. Why is everyone so involved in my decision?”

Ellen sounded like a woman who has the self-esteem and intelligence to listen to her heart and her intuition. I asked her what influenced her decision. She said there were red flags.

One was that her fiancée didn’t take her side when his mother criticized her. Ellen knew it would be a problem because ,when she pointed it out to him, he became defensive and told her she was being too sensitive.  He loved them both. Why should he have to choose between his mother and his wife?

Then there were his put downs and teasing, both public and private. Yes, he usually followed up with an ardent apology, but if he was behaving this way before marriage, what could she expect later?

“It’s the small things that bother me,” she said. “I kept thinking I was being petty, but how many times will I have to justify to myself that it doesn’t bother me when he holds his fork like he’s pitching hay, or talks with food in his mouth, or slurps his soup, or is rude to the waiter or dismissive to the receptionist, or, or , or………

“Ultimately, I didn’t feel like he was right for me,” she said. “It’s uncomfortable for my family and friends right now, so I thought I’d get away and let those who seem so heavily involved in my decision simmer down.”

I think Ellen was smart to call it off.  She knew she couldn’t change his behavior after marriage. She wasn’t apologetic for her decision. She did what she had to do to prevent a stressful marriage from disintegrating into a stressful divorce.

Engagement Ring is not a Gift

Did you know that 26 percent of all engagements occur at Çhristmas time? Tucked right in there with all the excitement, stress and partying of the holiday season, a man and woman decide to commit their future to each other – Worse time of the year to make such an important decision.

An engagement ring is not a gift, like jewelry or a cashmere sweater. The ring is the beginning of a commitment that you fulfill when you marry. If either of you decide not to marry, you have to return the ring.

Seems obvious, right? Wrong. Who gets to keep the ring depends on where you live.

Most states treat engagement rings as ‘conditional gifts given in contemplation of marriage’. If you’re not going through with the marriage for any reason, whether you call it off, or your fiancée does, you have to give the ring back.

For example, in California, considered to be an ‘implied conditional’ state, if the man breaks the engagement, he won’t get the ring back. If she breaks it, he can ask for the ring back. Maybe he’ll get it, maybe not, but he can go to court to try.

Howeer, in Montana, an engagement ring is considered to be an unconditional, completed gift. She doesn’t have to give it back and there’s nothing he can do about it.

Whether you return the ring , or you get to keep it, I feel sorry for the poor guy who may be paying for years on his credit card for a ring that loses more than half its value the minute he buys it. (A diamond, like a car, is worth a lot less when you try to resell it.) It doesn’t seem fair in this day of gender equality that a man should go into debt to prove his love.

Engagement is a two-way street. How about couples exchanging engagement rings that they both can afford. It would be interesting to know if the biggest engagement rings resulted in the happiest marriages. Meanwhile, check the law in your state…unless you live in Montana

Job first, then the Wedding

This post is verbatim from an Ask Amy column, written by Amy Dickinson, one of the smartest, most practical and ethical syndicated columnists. Thank you Amy!!

Dear Amy, Our son got engaged. He is 26 and after spending eight years in college, he did not get a degree. He and his fiancee live with her parents. Our son wants to be an actor. After many conversations, he has let us know that he is ‘on track’ with his profession and will not pursue full-time work. This couple does nothing but watch TV, post on Facebook and participate in local acting gigs.

My wife had a conversation with the mother of the bride-to-be about wedding plans. It did not go well. The couple wants to have an elaborate and expensive wedding. My wife told the mother we would not contribute money to indulge the couple in this type of venue or discuss wedding plans until they became more motivated and employed. This infuriated the mother of the bride-to-be. She called my wife manipulative and said she was using this tactic as leverage not to pay for half the wedding. My wife was trying to make a point that the focus needs to be on the motivation and employment of these adults. Are we wrong in our thinking?

A concerned dad

Dear Dad,

You should not be discussing this wedding with the fiancee’s parents, but with the couple. Whenever someone asks you to pay for something, this puts you in a position to make a choice about the proposed investment. If the fiancee’s mother says you are trying to manipulate through money, you can truthfully respond,”Damn straight, we are.”

Couples should finance their own weddings. If they want money from you, then they are going to have to be brave enough to lay out their case, and not send mommy to do their asking. Basically, you and your wife are doing what the fiancee’s parents won’t do – setting firm boundaries and making sound financial choices.

Your stance should be,”We are not against this marriage, but if the couple wants this fancy wedding, they should get jobs, save up, and contribute toward it. If they do, then we will reconsider our position.”

Amen and thank you again, Amy!

“Don’t You Trust Me?”

How many women hear this question from their fiancée before the wedding?  It happens more often than you think.

Who wants to spoil the euphoria of wedding plans and the excitement of honeymoon planning by discussing money? Many women won’t take a chance of bringing up a subject which, in the past, has made her future husband impatient, sometimes even angry?

“Why are you always thinking about money?” he had said. “Didn’t we agree we’d talk about that after the honeymoon?” This is not a good sign for how he will handle discussions of money after you’re married.

If you wait until after the honeymoon, it’s too late. Once you say “I Do”, you become one half of a legal and financial contractual unit called a marriage. You don’t like to think of your marriage that way, but in the eyes of the law, that’s what it is. Every financial decision your husband makes, with your knowledge, or without it, will affect you in the future.

How unfortunate that couples will seek premarital counseling for sex, religion, parenting or conflict  resolution, but few sign on for financial coaching and money issues.  Few women plan on being widowed or divorced. Too many cede control of finances to their husband, leaving them unprepared to cope on their own in case their marriage ends.

Don’t let this happen to you. Get involved in the finances before you marry. Don’t wait till after the honeymoon. It’s not about trusting your future husband. It’s about understanding your joint finances, asking questions because you deserve answers and participating as an equal partner.

Couples Rethink Wedding Costs

Many couples are beginning to function in the real world, trading extravagant credit card weddings for an event they can actually afford. These savvy couples are beginning to run their numbers , rearrange priorities and ask questions that really matter.

For example, wouldn’t $30,000 pay off the graduate school loans? Do we really need 200 wedding guests? If a wedding lunch costs half of a wedding dinner, do we really need moonlight? Do we really need the DJ’s banter in between dance numbers? Perhaps most important, should our parents really be cutting into their retirement savings to pay for our wedding?

Finally, a glimmer of reason is emerging. Couples are moving up wedding dates for year-end tax breaks and substantial savings on health insurance premiums. Some are combining plans to marry with a year-end vacation.  And then there’s the ultimate voice of reason – the couple that realizes that the cost of their wedding day could be the down payment on a house.

Unfortunately, with two million weddings annually in the U.S., the $160 billion wedding industry isn’t tightening its belt just yet. I’m hoping that couples who marry are mature enough to realize that a lavish wedding doesn’t have much to do with a happy marriage.

A Most Beautiful Organic Wedding

Of course you notice their beauty – the groom tall, lean, golden in the California sun, he in formal grey, but with the whimsy of suspenders, she, demure in flowing waves of white chiffon, baby tears woven in her hair and her bouquet.

What really strikes you is how comfortable they are with each other, best friends who also happen to be bathed in romantic love. Then you notice their tenderness, the softness with which they gaze upon each other. You watch them talk, the tenderness and attention they show each other, how proud they seem of the other, how gentle, yet how strong and steadfast they have been in the fours years since they first met and grew in love.

They described it to me as an “organic” wedding, a ceremony that grew naturally from their sentimental love of family heirlooms and their sensitivity to the joining of two families with different religious tradtions.

They planned for their wedding to be outdoors in their beloved wilderness, where they could share their love of birdsong and nature with their invited guests.Their friends pitched tents and talked until the wee hours.  Their parents and grandparents, lodged in comfortable cabins, perhaps dreaming of how different things were when they were married.

When cheers of mazeltov rang out as the pastor pronounced them husband and wife, I couldn’t help thinking how lovely a wedding can be when it truly includes the shared philosophy of bride and groom. The food was simple, delicious and abundant. Because they did so much of the work themselves, they began the  process of building something together from the start.

I didn’t fully understand what organic meant until after the wedding, but the effect is clear when you see it in action. Something that’s organic is whole because nothing artificial is added. It’s an ‘organic’ event that celebrates the uniqueness of a wedding, but reflects the values and visions of the couple.

Long life and happiness to my granddaughter and her beloved husband.