Dear Margo: Accidentally Liberated

My stepdaughter and her boyfriend moved out after I asked for a more substantial rent contribution. Did I do wrong? Margo Howard’s advice

Accidentally Liberated

Dear Margo: For the past two and a half years, we have allowed my 24-year-old stepdaughter and her 25-year-old boyfriend to live with us. During this time, we have charged them very minimal rent ($50 a paycheck from each when they were working). He had two part-time jobs, and she had a couple of short-term jobs that always ended in disaster. Any extra money they got was spent on dinners, expensive clothes and DVDs, rather than saving.

Recently, my wife found employment, and we were going to have my stepdaughter watch our 5-year-old. That was a debacle that would have ended badly, so my wife quit to watch her. At this point, I’d had enough and told them we would be raising the rent. They were required to pay $400 a month for both of them. I gave them six weeks to get things in order and for my stepdaughter to look for a job. Instead, after a couple of weeks, they snuck out in the middle of the night and left town to go live in a cramped apartment with his family. Now I am being portrayed as the bad guy. Was there something I could have done differently? –Bad-Guy Dad

Dear Bad: I think you did things just right. These kids sound like hot messes, and irresponsible in the bargain. Sneaking out in the middle of the night was a nice touch — especially considering you are family. I’m sure you wish them luck in the boyfriend’s parents’ apartment. One can only hope somewhere along the line they grow up. Do allow yourselves to feel relieved that their maturing process is taking place somewhere else. (As the wonderful jazz drummer Bobby Rosengarden used to say: “You got a fluckey.” You may have to say this out loud to get it.) –Margo, thankfully

“This Is Certainly Less Traditional.” I’ll Say

Dear Margo: My husband and I are in the phase of our lives where friends’ children are starting to get married. More and more, we are seeing gift registries where they don’t request toasters, blenders, china, etc, but are asking for “contributions” to their honeymoon, a down payment on a house, etc. In other words: money! Am I an old crank who is just out of it? I always thought “envelopes” were for mafia weddings. What do you think of this? –Fuddy Duddy

Dear Fud: First, let me say that there are many cultures that favor “envelopes” as the gifts of choice — which does make a certain amount of sense. You are not alone in your reluctance, however, to make a gift of cash. One woman told a reporter writing about this trend, “It sounds cheesy to me,” and said she’d rather give something they can have forever to remember her by. A young woman who was using this new kind of registry (to pay for a European honeymoon) responded, “The only difference is that friends are helping us buy experiences, rather than things.”

Because couples are marrying later and living together first, one can assume they most likely already have household things. It is heresy, I know, but I have no objection to this. We are not living in the days of Emily Post … although her grandson, Peter Post, also thinks this relatively new practice is OK. Console yourself with the idea that it’s easy on the gift-giver (no shopping) and it’s what they want. If you can’t get with this program, by all means send whatever you would like. No one will call you names, but neither will they toast you in Paris! –Margo, liberally

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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127 comments so far.

  1. avatar Artemesia says:

    The Dad whose stepdaughter moved out in the night should not only not feel guilty but he and his wife should feel good that they have finally done what they should have long ago.

    If it were me, I would simply ignore the pouty whiny ‘you are bad guys’ nonsense and act as if their move was a great thing and you are proud of them. Have them for dinner; praise them for taking responsibility for themselves. Be sunny and supportive.

    Sure somebody dropped the ball in raising this kid — but sometimes in spite of one’s best efforts kids don’t turn out to be the responsible young adults we hope for — lucky is part of it. This girl will one hopes some day grow up — providing free lodging for her and her layabout boyfriend is not the route to that. With luck, they will wear out their welcome at his family and be forced to act like grownups.

    Kudos for making the right move. And take to heart this story and raise the new little one to be responsible for herself — I hope she is already helping with household chores; as she gets older she should be cooking, doing her own laundry and in general being a contributing member of the household. And when she is ready for college, it should be made clear that upon graduation she is expected to: be employed and self supporting or in grad school. And that she is expected to live on her own or if at home to be either paying substantial rent or in school. Lots of kids slide if given the chance. We made these expectations clear to our kids when they were young teens — there was no question of either of ours slunging after college and letting us support them. They had internalized expectations. Part luck. Part careful planning.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      I absolutely agree. Our 14 year old son has chores he now does automatically, and has taken it upon himself to learn to operate the washer and dryer and do dishes and several other things around the house. He gets an allowance…but if he doesn’t do his chores, it will be docked…and he knows this.

      But, of more importance, he knows that he is part of the family, and that he has responsibilities that he has to cover just as myself and his father do. He is also eventually college bound, and while we will do our best to cover his first four years, we are encouraging him to work hard toward his grades (he is extremely bright) because competition for scholarships is fierce, and every little bit helps. He knows that he will have to work summers during his first four years of college…and summers in high school if he likes (we are not believers in students working during the school year in high school…and being on the high end of the academic track entails mountains, and hours and hours of homework)…to fund his graduate work.

      He can come home if he wants between college semesters…but he won’t be laying about doing nothing. We are readers and thinkers, and I am fully intending to return to college to study chemistry and forensic sciences, and then hopefully find work. He is already a conscientious person, and we are already encouraging him to find his own way. With what we are giving him (neither of us ever lived by sponging from our parents) and a little good fortune, and hopefully, a continual growth of his own good nature, he will turn out all right.

      I think that LW1 was perfectly right in raising the rent, and gave the step-daughter-and plenty of time to get it together. He was really very reasonable. The fact that they did a midnight powder suggests that they wanted to give the impression of being put under o-s0-unbearable pressure and being chased out by an evil Mr. Meanie (O, and that they’re miserable sponges who can and will clear out at a moments notice when the well dries up and there is nothing left to absorb). He isn’t a bad guy. I hope his step-mooch has a wonderful time living in a sardine can rather than being responsible.

  2. avatar momis says:

    Letter #1: I don’t see anything wrong with raising the rent when it is clear that they are not saving money move out to a place of their own. I do think, however, that the first mistake was to allow that living arragenment. I’ve seen that in my family as well. My parents had to help my older siblings and younger one by letting them stay without paying rent but by helping with bills. The problem hasn’t been the money but that getting so many people with different (and sometimes difficult) personalities under one roof is just a recipe for disaster. I’m the most independent one of the four of us kids and I pray I don’t ever have to see myself in a situation to move back in because I’ve gotten used to things being a certain way, my own way.

  3. avatar Miss Lee says:

    My only experience with the help pay for our honeymoon thing was with a young gal where I worked.  I liked her quite a bit so when one of the things they listed, a tour, was something I would love to do if I ever traveled to France, I purchased it for them and a higher price than I have ever given for a wedding present…I am not well off.  Turns out that they get the gift in cash to spend as they would like and never did take the tour I bought.  I had hoped to be shown pictures and share the memories but not to be and I got over it.  We no longer work together and I certainly still have warm memories of her but I would never fall for this one again now I know how it works. 

    As for the step father, watching my niece work her parents for YEARS, he really got of lucky.  Smart man.  This whole delay in the growing up and taking responsibility for yourself bit the young folks have going on now isn’t healthy for either the kids or the parents.  It provides a great way to avoid what the real problem may be.   They may just deadbeats and leeches. 

    • avatar amw says:

      I wouold hope your co-worker at least sent you a letter telling you how thoughtful it was for you to treat them to something nice for their honeymoon.

      I thought that by adding “excursions” to your registry, the money paid for that and would be credited to your account at the resort/venue. Even if that wasn’t the case, if the bride and groom opted NOT to take the tour for whatever reason, you deserved an explanation. You gave with the intent of giving them an opportunity to something you knew you and they would enjoy…not to mention in anticipation of the story and pictures that would come with it.

      Such a shame…

  4. avatar Count Snarkula says:

    Letter #2: No, you are not a fuddy duddy. The practice of “expecting” gifts for marriage, birthdays, holidays, etc. has always been crass. And rude. The fact that it is so blatant now that people are actually demanding money does not shock the Count. Though it does sadden him. You are under no obligation to go along with what amounts to extortion. Nor are you obliged to follow any sort of “registry”. You may give what your heart tells you to. Or not. When the Count is invited to these crass showbizzy wedding “spectaculars”, he absolutely always declines. Using the proper verbiage. On house paper. In black ink. Margo, you and I usually see eye to eye. But dear heavens above, not on this one. Not even close.

    • avatar amw says:

      Expecting a gift is beyond rude. If it weren’t for the fact that I am such a new face to my fiance’s family, I wouldn’t have showed up at his cousin’s nuptials. To assume that we would all be reaching into our wallets…especially for a wedding that was planned in two weeks when the couple had only been together a meer three or four months…was unacceptable, hideous behavior. However, had they not made that assumption, I most likely would have either bought them something they could use or purchased a gift card so they could have picked out their own gift. As it was, I brought absolutely nothing but a fake smile on my face until I was able to politely get away!

  5. avatar blueelm says:

    I hate weddings. Honestly, if I’d known then what I know now I’d have told everyone to stuff it and eloped. Weddings: the only time when you can spend 10k on people, have them scream at you the entire time, and somehow be called selfish for it all.

    File under not worth it.

  6. avatar LeFleure says:

    Regarding Letter #1: I am very sure that you are being designated the “bad guy” in all this. Parents always get called the Bad Guy when they don’t go along with whatever the children want (my parents played villain often when I was growing up). However, you can hope that one day, they will see past this. There is always hope that age will bring wisdom – especially with children.

    Regarding Letter #2: We had something similar crop up at work. A coworker’s daughter was eloping and she sent out an email saying she was collecting to “fund the elopement.” I was aghast – not at the request for money but that it was so blatant. I told my Mother that if the request had come from our boss, in the form of a “We would love to celebrate the impending nuptals of so-and-so. Since they are young and eloping, we are collecting to give them a gift card for their trip,” I would have though that a lovely gesture. But coming from the mom, it seemed greedy. I’m not sure why – maybe it was the wording. At any rate, I see NOTHING wrong with hoping for gifts of cash, provided it is done in a tasteful manner. My husband and I were flat broke and pretty much without anything when we got engaged (and living on a Lance Corporal’s salary to boot!). We did a registry, at our families’ urging, for all the little things we lacked. When my dear MIL heard we couldn’t afford a short honeymoon, she suggest to some of her family that they pool money to give a long weekend away. We didn’t ask for it, it was a gift from the family. I think if done tastefully and circulated via word-of-mouth, then asking for funds (or those beautiful knives) is ok. However, including it in the invitation takes away from what the wedding is about – watching two people pledge love together. Remember – the invitation is strictly that – an invitation to the ceremony and any after-party (don’t get me started about not inviting people to join you at the reception, another gripe!). The gift giving is a seperate beast best handled by your Maid/Matron of Honor, Best Man and Family. They know you two best of all and all questions of gifts should be directed to them – yes, even from out-of-town family. And strangers? Why are you inviting strangers in the first place!

    • avatar K Coldiron says:

      “fund the elopement”. Ugh ugh ugh.

    • avatar etiennewestwind says:

      I’d be tempted to send the couple a dictionary with the definition of elopement bookmarked and highlighted…

      • avatar LeFleure says:

        Let’s just say I declined making an appearance at the “shower” and smiled politely and wished them the best when I saw them at work. Most wedding-gift moments tend towards the “awkward” anyway. I’m already vaguely dismayed that somebody wants to throw me an “adoption shower.” I told them No Thanks! I don’t need that stress. The kids will be enough. Hah!

  7. avatar P S says:

    LW1 – You did absolutely nothing wrong! Adults who live in the same house should contribute to the expenses as fairly and equally as possible.

    When I lived with my parents following a divorce I raised my own rent at one point. I didn’t feel they were charging me enough and frankly I felt to get a better idea of what it’d be like to support myself after moving out I SHOULD give them more so I could learn to budget it properly.

    Let’s just say they didn’t complain :-) As it is I don’t believe enabling is a good teacher.

    I agree with the commenter who said not to concern yourself with what your stepdaughter and her boyfriend are saying about you. Their badmouthing is only reflecting their own characters.

    LW2 – I think this is one of those things where the guidelines are evolving and we’re in the messy stage. I believe it’s impolite to ask directly for money for a honeymoon and what-not.

    I guess I see it as being similar to the above scenario. How is a couple planning a new life together supposed to learn to budget for that life if they can’t pay for their own wedding or honeymoon? What about future trips and vacations, especially after kids come along? Maybe the fact that they have to ask for the money is a hint their plans are overambitious, perhaps?

    I am not against giving the happy couple money that they could use for whatever they wanted. Several people gave us checks and cash when DH and I married, and we were very grateful for their generosity.

    The difference is, we didn’t ask for it. We didn’t even hint at it because we didn’t think of it. We fully planned to fund our own wedding and honeymoon. Friends and family members came through anyway, their idea.

    I’m not sure how I feel about the whole dropping subtle hints through parents of the couple either. I really think it should be the guests’ idea to offer cash gifts… I agree it’s not like it used to be with people marrying later, living together, owning their own things, etc. However I don’t think that’s a reason or excuse to hold a collective hand out and say gimme money.

    Maybe the new convention should be to shift the attitude about registries and gifts entirely to say they’re not required or needed, and let guests decide what the couple likes based on what they know of them… that kind of freedom can inspire wonderful ideas for gifts. Sometimes the most sentimental gestures are the unexpected ones. It also might help modify guest lists to become more about making the wedding an intimate celebration with loved ones as it should be instead of a production with a cast of thousands in the hope that will secure more goodies.

  8. avatar Taye says:

    Letter 2: My best friend got married a few years ago.  Because of the times their parents just didn’t have the money to pay for the wedding so my friend and her husband paid for it on their own.  The honeymoon too.

    Before they got married they had both lived on their own and right before they got married they moved in with her parents because her father was ill.

    So by the time they got married they already had three of everything and no money.

    We ended up giving them money for both the bridal shower and the wedding.  It seemed to mean more to them because the few extra dollars we gave them was a few extra dollars that they wouldn’t have to stress about.

    And if you’re leary about only giving a cheque then be creative.  I got the money all in rolled dimes, put them in a box and wrapped it with a great big bow.  The card said “because cheques are so impersonal”.

  9. avatar Frau Quink says:

    Ltr. 2: I have never been asked for cash gifts by my friends or by their to be married offspring.
               I would not mind at all to give cash. But I never give more than I can afford, and never in my life
              have I cared about what other people give. If you are fond of the people to be married, there
              is no problem. If I hardly know the people, a card is sufficient.

    Ltr. 1: Somebody raised these young people to be the way they are. It all starts in childhood.

  10. avatar Mjit RaindancerStahl says:

    I didn’t register anywhere for my wedding. Thankfully, the majority of my guests who felt Obligated To Give Something took the hint and gave cash. Which we needed more than the 3 blenders our friends got for their wedding.

  11. avatar Patti Spencer says:

    For LTW #2 = When my husband and I got married, we asked for gift cards to specific stores or cash. Then again, we were in an unique position of being married in Michigan and living in Virginia – we were also traveling by truck for the next week and knew we would have to have the items with us. A lot of the people who came to the wedding did not even check our registries – they just used some common sense and gave us money knowing that we did not want/need to carry gifts for a week or so! (People who traveled to Michigan left before we could ask for their help with the gifts!)

    For LTW#1 – my mom had almost the same thing happen – you are better off with out them – as someone else said – change the locks and wish them the best – they will need it.
    My mom always seemed to put this curse on me – wait till you have kids of your own and they do this to you! Karma is a real itch!

  12. avatar jenn86 says:

    I always trust Miss Manners when it comes to etiquette. Her opinion is that people have become greedier, and greedier, when it comes to gift giving (or asking). Take for instance, how it seems to be becoming acceptible by some, to ask for a wedding guest to pay for their meal. But, no matter whether it’s 2011, or 1711, it’s still rude to tell people what to give you for a gift. Wedding registries are a fairly recent trend. There are some common decencies which should never change…no matter what century it is.

    • avatar maxie says:

      By fairly recent trend, do you mean the past 6 decades? It’s not the registry that’s a new trend, it’s how it’s used.

      In the 1950s (and maybe before?) you registered so everyone would know your china, crystal, and silver patterns, and would know what items you still needed. You registered at *one* store. Also, it was absolutely acceptable for someone to buy you one place setting or goblet or whatever. Now you register to select every expensive item you would like to have but probably couldn’t, or wouldn’t, buy for yourselves.

      • avatar Babbalou says:

        Maxie, I totally agree with you.  The change in how the registry is used is an excellent point and I think underlies the discomfort some of us feel with the registries these days.  I clearly remember checking with the local department or jewelry store to see what china, crystal and silver patterns had been selected.   Typically you only checked the registry if you were planning to give a gift of this nature.  The shift to walking through multiple stores holding a hand device and scanning everything that catches your fancy is a huge change.  I’m not sure how or why it’s all come about, maybe we’re more affluent in general, maybe the trend towards big expensive weddings even by very middle class people is a factor, maybe it’s just a natural trend – since once the door is opened to registering for gifts, why restrict the gifts to just table setting items?  And the change is fanned by store marketing folks and a popular culture that thinks traditional ways of doing things and traditional manners are old fashioned and without value.   

      • avatar Barbara says:

        This brought a smile to my face. I remember very well back in the 50’s when the girl across the street got married. She had been my sister and my babysitter. My mom took us to the downtown department store where we went to the bridal registry. We found out her silver pattern and my mom bought her two serving spoons, one from my sister and one from me. And my neighbor was delighted. I still remember the two thank you notes, one for each of us.

  13. avatar jenn86 says:

    I always trust Miss Manners when it comes to etiquette. Her opinion is that people have become greedier, and greedier, when it comes to gift giving (or asking). Take for instance, how it seems to be becoming acceptible by some, to ask for a wedding guest to pay for their meal. But, no matter whether it’s 2011, or 1711, it’s still rude to tell people what to give you for a gift. Wedding registries are a fairly recent trend. There are some common decencies which should never change…no matter what century it is.

  14. avatar fallacy says:

    Margo, I just wanted to say thank you for reminding me of my old friend Bobby Rosengarden. I loved his sense of humor and wordplay. He adored my son (another Robert) and used to say “This kid is Mt. Pleasant!” He’s sorely missed and very loved.

  15. avatar Jody says:

    Cash is King… especially in this economy. Why get upset about that? People of all ages who marry are looking to get a good start. Some marry quietly and suggest cash as a gift. Others marry in extravagant weddings and suggest cash as a gift. Why the judgment?

    When I got married in 1992, I had my china picked out, my crystal and a toaster too. The toaster broke years ago. The china (which I got little of) sits in my cabinet and I dust it occasionally. The crystal wine glasses get used more often than anything else, but even then I usually have to rinse them before serving.

    The cash we received (and didn’t ask for) helped us buy the washer and dryer that are still sitting in my basement. Not a bad investment after all.

    • avatar Jon T says:

      Jody, I don’t think anyone is objecting to giving cash per se. I’m more than happy to give cash if it will help the couple out. It’s when couples come out and demand cash in lieu of gifts. People tend to forget that a gift is an act of generosity on the part of the guests, not an entitlement of the hosts. Sure, ideally everyone would get exactly what they want as a wedding present. But an even more ideal situation would be when newlyweds remember to be grateful that friends and family thought of enough them to give them a gift at all. I received a few wedding presents that I haven’t used since. A couple of people didn’t bring anything. So what? I invited them to share in the day, not for what I thought I could squeeze out of them.

  16. avatar mjd4 says:

    Something seems odd about LW1.  Of course, it is perfectly reasonable to raise the rent or ask them to leave.  But, something about the the way teh story was told gives me the feeling something more is missing. 

    Like, how his wife got a job and “it would have been a debacle that ended in disaster” if step-daughter and bf had babysat, so wife had to quit.  I get not trusting them to babysit, but I don’t get the wife’s looking for a job and then realizing, “Oh no, we can’t trust them!  I guess I have to stay home after all!”   Did they try the babysitting thing and it turned out badly?  Or did LW and wife disagree about whether to let them babysit?   Did anyone think of hiring a babysitter?

    Sounds like he begrudges the lost revenue from his wife’s potential job, which of course makes sense if they failed to pitch in when asked, but it is not clear that is what happened.  It really feels like something is missing from this story. 
    I get the feeling LW and his wife did not agree about the whole affair, and he made a unilateral decision.  Not that it was a bad decision, in and of itself, but he is glossing over what the real problem is. 

  17. avatar mjd4 says:

    I don’t get offended by registries at Pottery Barn, and I don’t get offended by honeymoon funds.  Either way I consider it a suggestion not a requirement.  If you want the fun of picking something out and want to give them the fun of getting something they didn’t expect, then by all means pick somthing out.  If you are not sure what they would like and do not wish your gift to end up in the closet of stuff that gets brought out when the giver comes to visit, then give cash or consult the registry.  

    If you want to be offended at the nerve of young people today, then by all means do that, too.    

  18. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #1 – The fact that you allowed them to stay 2 1/2 years (IMO) says you went above and beyond what you should have. Personally, I think the premise in these situations is to allow the person(s) to save up to get back on their feet and get a place of their own. So I personally would not have asked for any money, but then again I would have been thinking a mere couple of months to allow them to save up, not 2 1/2 years. Living with you for years should have provided them a chance to save up a ton of cash.  The fact that they didn’t speaks to their irresponsible nature.

    They are undoubtedly feeling a big case of regret living under the circumstances that they are now (that being in a crampt apartment with his family) living in. Probably wishing they had made better life choices. My advice….keep saying to yourself 2 1/2 years….2 1/2 years.    I’m going to assume that their presence in your home had an affect on your relationship with your wife in one way or another, how could it not? It was for the best that they left, whether it be on good terms or bad.

    Letter #2 – A newly married couple has every right to ask for cash. I don’t understand why people take offense to this. They can “ask” for whatever they want, but what they “receive” is a whole other kettle of fish! :-) I honestly believe we need to get away from this belief that we should give people what they want as a wedding gift and instead give them what we can afford AND what we want to give.

    Cash for a wedding gift is best because it allows the happy couple to buy what “they” actually want and need. So I see it as the best gift. However, no one should ever feel obligated to give vast amounts of money. Whether it be $5 or $500, the amount given is always up to the guest.     

  19. avatar Diane Shaw says:

    Ltr. #1 – Whew!  I think you dodged a bullet and you should be thrilled they left rather than you having to force them out because they won’t pay rent.  You are NOT the bad guy.

    Ltr. #2 – I think registries are ridiculous and have gotten completely out of hand.  I was married in 1988 and didn’t register. My wedding wasn’t about presents, it was about inviting people to share our day with us.  I think my favorite gift was the box of kitchen gadgets we received.  Inexpensive, yet useful.

  20. avatar aerinpegadrak says:

    Why is everyone acting like the wedding guest’s only options are to suck it up and give cash or skip the event altogether? If Aunt Martha really wants to give the couple a chili pepper lamp and they’re not registered for one, is she just going to shrug her shoulders and pass up supporting the couple and meeting up with family? Of course not, she’ll wrap up the lamp and get ready to party.

    Ultimately, people are going to give whatever gifts personally appeal to them. Some people like giving practical gifts, others like giving things that are meant strictly for fun. If someone wants to give cash, it doesn’t matter how extensive or varied the registry, they’re going to write a check. If they prefer to give something tangible (as I do), it doesn’t matter how nicely, creatively, or toward what purpose the recipient asks for cash, the giver will do their best to find a good boxed gift. That’s the point of a registry: to provide guidance as to what gifts are needed and welcome so the giver doesn’t have to guess and the recipient doesn’t end up with six toasters. It’s a convenience for both parties, nothing more. We personally had a fairly large registry, and the majority of the guests gave cash. I find any sort of cash registry a little insulting, since 1) it presumes that I couldn’t have figured out on my own that they might be able to use some spare money, and 2) it presumes an entitlement to things like honeymoons and houses which are not natural rights, and for which a lot of people work very hard or might never even get at all.

    So get whatever wedding gift you want, Fuddy Duddy. A couple who declines to create even a brief registry as a guideline for their guests waives whatever small right they might have had to complain about getting the wrong thing. If the bride and groom have any class at all, they’ll accept whatever you choose graciously–even if it’s a chili pepper lamp.

  21. avatar Komment says:

    “Brides in particular have become such entitled, spoiled, evil little monsters of late.”

    Oh, oh, oh. Even if this is indeed tongue in cheek, I find this to be such a breathtakingly rude comment. My husband and I got married six months ago after a brief engagement. And you know what, we’re not bad people because we didn’t get married by a justice of the peace at town hall. We spent $25K on our small (50 guest) wedding, and you know what, every single dime (including valet parking for our guests, full open bar, lovely brunch after our late morning ceremony, etc.) came out of my savings account – my husband wasn’t my “ATM”. Every dime. And you know what else, in this depressed economy, I was glad to be able to celebrate with family and close friends and to support great local businesses (florist, photographer, caterer, etc.), all of whom did wonderful work for our wedding. Since our wedding was small, almost everyone was local, so there were few with travel expenses.

    I already owned a house at the time we got married. We both had complete sets of linens, kitchenware, etc. We didn’t expect anybody to give us gifts. I didn’t have a shower. We didn’t have an engagement party. In the end, we did set up a small registry of household goods, largely because we had several older relatives who wanted to give us something for our house who asked us to set up a registry so they could be sure we would get something we needed. We didn’t list the registry anywhere at all – our mothers told people who asked about it where it was.

    Some people gave us gifts off the registry. Some gave cash. Some brought cards with nice notes written in them. About a third of our guests didn’t bring a gift or a card. And you know what, that’s ok. What was important was that we celebrated together.

    Please do tell me how this makes me a spoiled, evil little monster?