DEAR ABBY: I am writing regarding “Sad Mom in Michigan,” who ignored her daughter’s second thoughts about getting married and rushed her to the altar because the wedding was already paid for. Many pastors, myself included, can add her letter to our collection of wedding horror stories. Families often spend thousands of dollars to show off in a one-hour ceremony instead of investing time in talking to their kids about commitment. I have seen brides blackmailed into doing what the parents wanted because “we’re paying for it.”

A wedding should be an occasion of joy as a couple begins a new life together, not a nerve-wracking, bankrupting extravaganza that everyone would like to forget. Parents who want a circus shouldn’t turn their kids into clowns in order to live out their own fantasies.

If a child expresses doubts before a wedding, that is the time to back up, take a breath and reconsider, no matter what has been paid. Divorce is more expensive than any wedding. – PASTOR IN DALLAS

And in more ways than one. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: May I respond to “Sad Mom,” who gave her 27-year-old daughter the wrong advice about going through with her marriage? As a pastor, I take marriage seriously. When a couple asks me to perform their ceremony, I make it clear I believe that marriage is for life.

Each time I meet with a couple, I ask if they still want to go through with the ceremony, and I tell them that if there is any doubt at all, we can “postpone” it. I would rather have them call it off now than one year, 10 years or even 50 years down the road.

I also inform the couple that on the day of the ceremony I will ask if they want to go through with it, and if for any reason they wish to call it off, it is perfectly OK. It is their future, not the future of their parents or friends.


You are a wise pastor. Unless both parties are convinced beyond a doubt they’re doing the right thing, they shouldn’t do it. A 10-minute “mistake” can lead to a lifetime of misery. Do the math!

DEAR ABBY: One of my employees is applying to get her MBA and has asked me to write a letter of recommendation for graduate school. Her performance at work has been acceptable but not outstanding, and I don’t feel comfortable writing a “glowing” letter about her.

I know how important recommendations are, and I don’t want to hurt her chances of pursuing her dream. How can I tactfully decline? -HONEST BOSS IN COLORADO

Invite the employee into your office. Praise her for her fine qualities and tell her where there is room for improvement. Say that you honestly cannot write a “glowing” recommendation and must decline because you don’t want to spoil her chances of being accepted. It’s the kindest way to handle a potentially ego- damaging situation.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To order “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby – Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.