Get "Dear Prudence" delivered to your inbox each week; click here to sign up. Please send your questions for publication to email@example.com. (Questions may be edited.)
My brother is getting married for the first time this summer, and I'm very happy for him. He and his bride-to-be spent some time last year at an exclusive mansion at a lake in the mountains, and they thought it would be the perfect locale for their nuptials, although they live in a different state. Only about 20 family members and extremely close friends would be in attendance as the joyous culmination of a week together for a "vacation." A month later, a big blow-out reception for 100-plus is planned for back home. (The first plan for their "destination wedding" was Europe, because they went there on vacation and wanted to "share the experience" with family and friends, but the details of a foreign wedding proved daunting.) Pictures of this mansion are impressive, and details were shared to entice us. After months of teases, and sensing there was real money involved, I finally asked my brother to bottom-line it for me a few days ago. He said the rent for the week is a whopping $10,000, but he's paying for a chef, porter, and all the food for gourmet meals. Every room would cost more than $1,000. Now, Prudie, my brother has significant assets and savings, and he makes six figures. Why is he imposing costs on his wedding guests? Is our dismay appropriate? With one income and two small kids, we watch every penny. My brother says we couldn't stay just a day or two at the mansion because "it wouldn't be fair." My brother suggested asking Mom and Dad—in their 70s—to kick in and pay our share if it's a hardship. Not an option. My friends are horrified. I've found wedding etiquette articles supporting our side. Should we throw them in the happy couple's face and say, "NO WAY!"?
Prudie suggests you throw nothing—not even a fit. The "destination wedding" is a relatively new wrinkle. (Ten-to-1 a travel agent dreamt it up.) It is, not infrequently, an imposition to have a wedding in a place where neither the bride nor groom lives. In your case, it is interesting that brother dearest, whom you say has a few nickels, has suggested you hit up your folks. Given everything you've written, Prudie thinks you should write him a letter explaining that you'd certainly love to be at the mansion but can afford neither the money nor the time. For anyone to assume that people will be happy to drop a bundle to go to a wedding is inconsiderate, if not presumptuous, so don't waste energy feeling like you're the odd one here. Tell your brother that you're looking forward to seeing him and the Mrs. at the reception back home. P.S.: There is the possibility that, after hearing from you, he might offer to pay. Then decide how you feel about it.
My husband and I have a little disagreement going, and I think you can help. Are the photos in Playboy magazine touched up? I think they do a little computer touch-up on the photos. Nobody has such perfect skin with no moles or blemishes of any kind! He maintains that it is just makeup. Who is correct, him or me? P.S.: The marriage isn't in jeopardy over the answer.
—Wondering in Wisconsin
Prudie is enormously flattered that you think she is knowledgeable about subjects so wide-ranging. She is also reasonably sure you are not asking her because you knew she was a Playboy bunny, herself ... if only for three days, and solely for the purpose of writing a newspaper article—her first. (Honesty demands the disclosure that the briefly tenured bunny, later to be known as Prudie, was not allowed to carry trays with food and drink, lest she accidentally trip and kill a customer; she was, instead, the camera bunny.) But back to the Playmates. An educated guess would be that the pictures are, indeed, touched up and air-brushed because most photographs in glossy magazines are. As for there being women with no blemishes and perfect skin, Prudie's heard that there are, in fact, a few such lucky girls.
Recently my brother-in-law's significant other broke my beach chair by sitting in it. Their mutual friend broke another chair. Neither offered to replace the chair they had broken. Both chairs were relatively expensive. I am hesitant to say anything because both individuals are at least 300 pounds, and also because, at this point, it's been several months since it happened. Now that it is close to summer, I would like to buy new beach chairs. How should I handle this? Do you think it is OK for me to ask them to chip in? If so, then what words should I use? Thanks!
—Chairless and Penniless
Regrettably, there is no polite way to tell two 300-pound friends that you'd like them to chip in for new chairs, seeing as they broke the old ones. It would appear that the problem with these two is not only their weight, but also a lack of social graces. Even a well-raised thin person who damages something in someone else's home offers to replace it. What you can do, however, is ask the salesperson if there IS such a thing as a reinforced beach chair. If there is not, then get those things that sit on the ground with a canvas back for support. It is a cinch that these two 300-pounders cannot break the sand.
I would appreciate some clarification regarding when one is able to date without it being a form of deception or an adulterous act. Once a spouse moves out and divorce papers are signed by both parties, it is my understanding that the majority of states require 90 days and a court appearance to have the divorce become final. Is this the time at which a marriage is over—or is it when the spouse leaves and the paper work is signed by both parties? This has become an interesting topic amongst friends, and I would like your input on the matter.
—Final or Not?
Ethically, Prudie thinks it acceptable to date when the partners have agreed to end the marriage, the conjugal aspect is past-tense, and in an idyllic situation, one person has moved out. There are situations, however, when the marriage is actually over but because of pricey real estate, both lawyers will advise their clients to stay put. When this mess occurs, Prudie would still consider the marriage "over." In terms of remarrying (not dating), different states have varying statutes regarding time. Your 90-day example is by no means standard. Long story short, when two people decide that their marriage is over, it's over, and it's not necessary for the plus-size lady to sing.