Dear Zadie:  My fiancé and I are graduate students at ASU.  We are completely independent of our families; I am an orphan, and John’s parents are divorced and living paycheck to paycheck.  Even if we wanted help (which we don’t) there is no one to assist us.  Can you give me a polite but un-whiny way of letting our guests know that we are paying for this very modest wedding ourselves and have no plans of going into debt for a much fancier wedding and reception?


Dear Practical Bride:  What a breath of fresh air you two are!  Let me congratulate and commend you on having good sense and great priorities!  So many young people getting married believe with all their hearts they MUST have a gigantic wedding with every frou-frou accessory in order to be married properly.  Such is truly not the case. 


It is Zadie’s never-to-be-too-humble opinion that you need not say one word to these people who will attend your wedding.  They already know what a great couple you are and are coming to cheer you on.  Plan the nicest wedding you can afford; don’t overspend; and have a wonderful day.  I sincerely doubt there will be even one critical thought about the wedding you have planned but rather a thousand prayers and blessings for your continued success and great happiness.


Dear Zadie:  I am in the early stages of wedding planning and I have a quick question:  I want to include seven of my best friends to be bridesmaids, but my fiancé only has four groomsmen.  Will it look weird if the number of people is unbalanced?  I really can’t cut any of my friends…three of them are my sisters, for goodness sakes!  Need a little help here.


Dear Unbalanced Bride:  The simple solution is to ask your groom to find three more men to stand up with him.  Groomsmen can be immensely valuable the day of the wedding for seating people, dancing with single women who attend, finding places for elderly guests at the reception.  That said, if the groom is set on four; how about if you ask your three sisters to perform other tasks, such as the guest book, a reading during the ceremony and maybe a song, if one of them is so talented.  On the other hand, you can ask your three friends to perform these duties. 


The larger lesson here is for you and your groom to find a workable compromise.  The ceremony and reception are not the be-all or end-all of your marriage—but the rather small, tasteful beginning of married life with wondrous, grand things to follow.  If you can grasp this concept, you will have the basis of a good marriage.



Dear Zadie:  How many invited guests should I expect to actually attend my wedding?


Dear Counting:  For more than two hundred invited guests, the general rule of thumb is to estimate 25-28% will be unable to attend.  Less than two hundred the percentage drops to15-20% or less.  Another factor that could impact these totals is how many out of town guests did you invite and how far will they travel.  Remember every wedding and every guest list is different, so always be prepared to be the lucky bride whose every guest says “Yes!”



Dear Zadie:  As the groom-to-be, I am wondering how long exactly you should give yourself to plan a wedding.  I am suffering from a severe case of IGS (insensitive guy syndrome).  So before I say something really dumb like, “Let’s just get married this weekend!” and really blow it, can you help me understand what is taking so long?  I don’t care if it’s turquoise or teal, black or charcoal, roses or stargazer lilies (whatever they are) I just want to marry her.


Dear IGS:  Would you permit Zadie a tiny digression?  From the moment you ask that woman to marry you, and she says “yes,” you are The Groom.  The same applies to her.  From the second she says, “Yes!” she is The Bride.  There are no to be’s in Zadie’s world—just the real thing.  Now, to your question.


I realize this is a trying time for you, and coincidentally it can be the most exhilarating time for your bride.  She loves every minute detail and more than that, she loves DISCUSSING every minute detail endlessly.  Here’s a question for you:  Do you want her to get in the habit of discussing every important detail of her life with her friends or do you want the job of First Confidante?  If you want her to starting thinking of you as her BEST friend, you might start listening…who knows, she may trip lightly across something you are wildly interested in.  It could happen.


Lovely weddings can be planned in three months if you are flexible on dates, vendors, venues and food.  The same lovely wedding can take as long as a year.  The average is about eight months.  I hope this helps.  Patience in this situation will be rewarded.



Dear Zadie:  My wedding is less than two months away and I am very concerned about my future mother-in-law’s choice of dress.  It took her most of a year to finally start looking for what she will wear.  Last Sunday at my shower, she showed my mother a picture of the dress she selected.  My mother described it as youthful, low-cut with spaghetti straps, flowing AND robin’s egg blue!  After the shower, I emailed my mother-in-law and asked to see the picture.  She emailed right back.  I couldn’t believe my eyes!  My fifty-one year-old mother-in-law had selected a dress for someone half her age—AND yes, it was electric blue.  Zadie, how do I tell her she absolutely cannot wear this dress at my wedding?


Dear Distressed:  The unmitigated gall of the old bag!  How dare she select something she wants to wear without consulting YOU?  And, in such an inappropriate and gauche color as robin’s egg blue?  You just march over there and at the top of your lungs tell her she must consult you on every detail…and that it is your day, your day, your day, YOUR DAY! 


Do you recognize someone here?  Now, Zadie has never seen a rule that says all the family members (extraneous and otherwise) must dress in coordinating colors of the wedding.  The basic courtesy in Zadie’s book is that mother of the groom waits until the mother of the bride has selected her dress/gown.  That way the two ladies do not show up in the same dress or color.  If your mother is color coordinated with your wedding, that is wonderful; but the groom’s mother has decided not to be color coordinated.  And, my dear, is it really the end of the world if she is in robin’s egg blue? 


Let’s get a grip here and remember that these are family members and they will be with you a long time…that is, if you calm down and start being a little more reasonable.


My lovely brides and grooms, we are dancing happily into the glorious beginning of a new year.  Did you just get engaged?  Welcome to the pages of The Wedding Chronicle, a paper lovingly assembled for your enjoyment and edification.  When you pick one up, get one for your mother and your maid of honor; it will be an invaluable resource for all wedding questions and inspirations.  Thank you for reading our paper.  Now, Zadie will get herself a glass of chilled wine and celebrate getting married!


Your mannered friend,



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