DEAR ABBY: My fiance and I are preparing for our wedding next spring. This is the first marriage for both of us. We are well-established in our careers and have a nice house with everything we need in it.

Abby, my fiance and I lost our fathers to cancer within the last few years. One of our biggest regrets is that we never got to meet each other’s father, and they won’t be at our wedding with everyone else we love.

Is there a polite way to ask our guests to donate to the American Cancer Society, their local hospice or a charity of their choice, instead of buying us things we don’t need? It would mean far more to us knowing that some other dad who might have been lost to cancer will be able to walk his daughter down the aisle on her special day. — SPRING 2011 BRIDE

DEAR SPRING 2011 BRIDE: While I commend you for wanting to help others whose lives have been touched by cancer, what you have in mind must be done “delicately” so no rules of etiquette are broken. No mention of gifts (or money) should be made on (or accompany) your wedding invitations.

However, it is customary for those who plan to attend to inquire about where the couple is registered or what they might need. At that point, it’s permissible to say (verbally) that a donation to the American Cancer Society or to hospice, etc., would be appreciated for the reasons you stated in your letter.

And one more thought: Although your fathers-in-law died before you could meet them, please don’t think they won’t be at your celebration. Because they are in your hearts, they will not only be present at your wedding, they’ll be with you always.

DEAR ABBY: About a year ago I was in the process of separating from my husband. I started looking for a place of my own, but after I found one, my husband said he wanted to “work things out.”

While we were separated we slept in different rooms. During this time I met another man, “Craig.” He knew I was married and I told him about the situation with my husband. Craig and I have not been intimate or even kissed. We have carried on inappropriate conversations via phone, e-mail and texting, and we have sent each other pictures through e- mail.

My husband and I have now reconciled, but I have been stringing Craig along on the chance that, if my marriage doesn’t work out, he’ll be there. I feel guilty about this. Is what Craig and I have done considered a form of cheating? What should I do? — HEDGING MY BETS IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR HEDGING: Of course it’s a form of cheating! You know that on some level or you wouldn’t be feeling guilty. If you really want your marriage to work, you’ll stop hedging your bets and devote yourself fully to it. You’ll also level with Craig, tell him you and your husband have reconciled, ask him not to call you again and delete his texts and e-mails. If you don’t, your husband could find them and your marriage WILL be over.

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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby — Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)


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