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Dear Francie: I am getting married next summer and pretty much know exactly how I want my wedding to be. I am not a fancy girl, so a country wedding on my grandfather's farm will be perfect for me and my fiancé. The problem is my fiancés parents are "well to do," and my future mother-in-law and sister-in-law think etiquette should be followed to the letter. They have already demanded I register at all the most expensive stores. I want to register at Target and Wal-Mart so my guests don’t have to feel like they have to buy me expensive gifts. My future mother-in-law has already made me an appointment with a dress designer in Atlanta, while I was thinking of buying a dress from a consignment store. I know things are just going to get worse. Any ideas of how I can get them to back off?


June 2011

Dear Bobbi: Believe it or not, this is a problem that is fairly common when families are planning a wedding. People often choose themes that represent who they are as people. You identify yourself as "country" and your in-laws identify with "country clubs.” Unfortunately, there may not be a lot you can do to change their mind. However, I would suggest your fiancé get involved. It would be easier for your in-laws to take the news that you are not registering at Nordstrom if it comes from him. Your fiancé must stand with you on this issue, because believe me, there are going to be more differences in opinion long after your wedding. You must learn to stand up for yourself now. Don't be afraid to say, "I really appreciate your input, but this is the way we have decided to do things." If there is a special job or two you can give your in-laws to be in charge of, that may help. When it comes down to it, they want to be involved and help you have a great wedding. Good luck!

Dear Francie: I feel a little embarrassed to ask you this, but I really need some advice. My fiancé and I have not had sex since we first started dating. We both wanted to wait until we got married. Neither one of us are virgins, but for some reason we didn't have sex. We realized we were meant to be together and decided to wait. Now I'm having second thoughts. What if he is terrible in bed? What if he thinks I'm terrible? My friends told me I should "drive the car" before I buy it. Part of me wants to wait until our wedding night, but part of me thinks it may be a big mistake not to sleep together first. What do you think?


Wedding Date: October 2009

Dear Tina: I'm glad you wrote because there are many young women out there who have the same questions about whether to wait or not. There are many reasons to wait, and it sounds like you have had good ones. But it is also understandable that you may be wondering what your intimate life will be like after you tie the knot. My first piece of advice is to stop listening to your friends. The decision you and your fiancé make is a very personal one, and only the two of you can decide what's right for you. Next, you must sit down with your fiancé and ask him how he feels about it. Tell him your concerns and figure out together what the best answer is for both of you. I think if you sit down and have a heart-to-heart conversation the two of you will know exactly what to do... or what not to do.

Dear Francie: My boyfriend and I got engaged right before he was deployed to Iraq. He has been gone for almost eight months and the truth is, I don't think I want to marry him. Actually, I started having doubts about the engagement as soon as I said, "I do.” But my grandmother tells me it would be cruel to break off the engagement while he is serving his country. She even said that he would be more likely to get killed if he suffered a broken heart. My grandfather served in Korea, and my grandmother waited two years for him. I understand what she is saying, but I'm not sure how much longer I can lie. I tell him I love him and that I am planning our wedding, but none of that is true. Should I stick it out and break up with him when he comes home, or should I tell him how I feel now? Lori Lee

Wedding Date: TBD

Dear Lori Lee: I can understand why you have been torn over this situation, especially since your grandmother has a very strong opinion about what you should do. You didn't say how much longer your fiancé must serve in Iraq. Keep in mind that although he may complete one tour, very often soldiers are called back to continue serving. So, you really don't know for sure how long he may be there. I can give you a few things to think about, but the ultimate decision must be yours. First, do you think it is fair to him or to you to continue a relationship that is false? If you were in his place, would you want to know? Although he may be hurt when you break the news, at least he can get on with his life and you can get on with yours. He's going to find out sooner or later. If the worst happened and he were injured or killed, it would not be your fault. Your fiancé took on those risks when he joined the military. However, if you tell him now, I'll bet he will have a strong support system to help him to deal with the breakup. If he finds out you have been lying to him, he would have the right to be angry and to feel cheated. In this situation, the golden rule applies: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”