Dear Zadie:  I found the most wonderful gown at a very expensive store.  It is way, way more than I can afford, but I also found it on the internet for about five hundred dollars less.  If I go into the store and try it on, I will know exactly what size I need and if there are any changes I should order.  Can you trust those online bridal stores?


Dear Saving a Buck:  While you may be tempted to order online, there are many serious pitfalls in doing this.  Recently two of the largest online bridal boutiques went out of business. The owners sent an e-mail telling the brides “So sorry, no dress!”  This abrupt departure left many brides stranded.  They paid for the dresses and got NOTHING. The anticipated savings evaporated when they had to buy another dress.  While I am certain that many of these brides sued, I doubt they will be fully reimbursed especially after paying lawyers’ fees.  Other horror stories include receiving the wrong dress or the wrong size, and always absolutely no help with alterations at any time. 


Reputable bridal salons pay rent, employ sales people, and must buy those dresses you are trying on before you order online.  You place yourself just this side of outright dishonesty to use their facilities and people when you know you are going online and have no intention of buying from them.


Dear Zadie:  I am the good friend of the bride.  I am hosting a shower, attending two others, invited to the bachelorette party, and finally attending the wedding as a guest.  Am I expected to give four or five gifts?  I really don’t have the money to do all this, but I don’t want to seem cheap.  I need a little help here.


Dear Overwhelmed:  In a word, “no.”  In some places hosting (and paying for) a shower qualifies as all you need to do.  In other places hosting the shower plus a gift cover your requirements.  Notice I said ‘A’ gift?  Paying for the shower can be pretty expensive and should be all that is required.  However, if you would like to add a modest gift to that, there is nothing in the book to say you shouldn’t.  But, by no means do you have to give five gifts.  That would be filed under “gift overload.


Dear Zadie:  Last year I received the most beautiful diamond and sapphire engagement ring.  It is gorgeous.  However, my fiancé has decided he does not wish to marry me.  I am devastated, to say the least.  But as my mother tells me, I am much better off learning this now rather than after our marriage.  I am trying to be philosophical, but it isn’t easy.  Here is my question:  Do I have to return the ring?  I read an article in a brides’ magazine saying I could keep it if the groom broke the engagement.  OK, Zadie, what’s the answer?


Dear Wiser Bride:  Your mother is correct.  Much, much better to say good-bye now.  However, it is the humble opinion of Zadie that you should return the ring.  Do you really want to keep something reminding you of a terrible moment in your life?  And, when you find your one true love, I promise you will not even remember this sad incident.  Be the better person; return the ring.


The Official Rules According to Zadie state the bride returns the engagement ring in all cases except one:  If the ring or stone is an heirloom belonging to her family, the bride keeps the ring.


Dear Zadie:  My fiancé and I are officially engaged. We want to announce it as soon as possible.  There is one teeny-tiny problem: I am not officially divorced yet.  My new fiancé’s parents don’t know I am still married.  In addition to that my soon-to-be-EX-husband is not handling this well.  He does not want the divorce, and refuses to sign the papers.  I am hoping my wonderful, new engagement will push him along.  Do you think it would be okay to go ahead with the announcement?


Dear Rushing It:  No.  You must legally finish one relationship before you rush into another.  Once your divorce is final, you announce the beginning of another phase of your life.  By announcing your shiny new relationship and impending marriage, you hand your present husband one excellent way to really bollix up the works!  How better to make you pay than to embarrass you in front of your new family and the whole world?


May I add one small note here?  It is a good idea to inform your new in-laws of all previous marriages.  If you don’t, they will surely get the news from someone, and I PROMISE it will be at the most inconvenient moment.  Gentle, basic honesty works every time it is tried.


Dear Zadie:  I am not a bride, but I have a question you can help me with.  As my gift for a wedding in May, I sent a place setting of the couple’s china.  Since then I have heard nothing from the bride or groom.  Would it be permissible to call and ask if they received it?  I don’t want to embarrass them, but if they didn’t receive it, I must get in touch with the gift registry so a replacement can be sent.


Dear Lovely Guest:  How kind of you to send this thoughtful gift.  I would start with the bridal registry at the store.  Make certain the china was actually sent.  Then I would call the bride and groom.  So what if it embarrasses them?  They should have sent a thank you by now.  It is the very rudest of rude things not to say thank you when someone has gone out of their way to send a gift or do something nice.  You, dear guest, have done both and deserve proper thanks.


Dear Zadie:  Is it permissible to invite some people to the church wedding and some to the reception?  Our church is very small and we would like to invite more people to the reception than the sixty the church accommodates.


Dear Questions:  If you mean invite sixty to the church and add another one hundred to that sixty for the reception, the answer is a resounding yes.  Your situation is quite common and presents no problem.  You can have your attendants pass the word about the size of the church and I promise all your guests will understand.  In the Mormon faith, a wedding in the Temple excludes everyone who is not a member or not in good standing with the church.  These weddings are followed by a reception that includes many who did not attend the ceremony.


Well, now that Christmas is over, we have a new crop of couples arriving in “Wedding Land.”  Welcome to all of you newly engaged brides.  If there is anything we can do to answer your questions, please do not hesitate to let us know.  And now, with a glass of pinot noir and a wonderful sunset, this is Zadie signing off!


Your mannered friend


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