Valentine’s Day advice on mismatched couples, quickie weddings, and secret affairs.

Help! I Don’t Want To Take Photos With My Odd-Looking Fiance.

Help! I Don’t Want To Take Photos With My Odd-Looking Fiance.

Advice on manners and morals.
Feb. 9 2012 6:00 AM

My Funny-Looking Valentine

Prudie gives advice on mismatched couples, quickie weddings, and secret affairs just in time for V-Day.

Emily Yoffe.
Emily Yoffe

Photograph by Teresa Castracane.

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Dear Prudence,
After several years together, my fiance and I are finally getting married. A simple beach wedding is set for early spring. The trouble is, my mother is disappointed that we are not making a big deal of finally saying "I do." Her most recent complaint is our lack of engagement pictures (or any pictures at all). She bought us picture frames and a gift certificate to be photographed so that we would not have any more excuses. What she doesn’t acknowledge is that my fiance and I look terrible together. Separately, we are fine. However, while I love my fiance with all my heart, our features just don't complement each other. I am almost certain that I will despise any formal pictures of us. Instead of letting the gift certificate go to waste, I was planning on having pictures taken of just our kids. But I fear that my fiance will think that I am ashamed of him. How do I tell my husband-to-be that pictures of us are just not for me?


—Camera Shy

Dear Shy,
Let’s say he’s a Klingon and you’re a Romulan, believe me, no one cares that your forehead ridges might clash. Take a look at rocker Ric Ocasek and his wife, model Paulina Porizkova. All his angles are bad and all hers are good. You'd never put them together if you were making a match based on looks, yet they happily fill the same camera frame. Maybe you’ve been reluctant to mention that you’re engaged to a Cyclops, but if that’s the case, you’ve chosen him, so you must find him attractive. There is simply no way to express to your betrothed that there will never be a joint portrait of the two of you, because while you both look fine separately, together you’re a hot mess. That would make anyone think that maybe being permanently separated is the best course for you two. Your mother gave you a lovely gift, so humor her by getting some family portraits done—of all of you together, and of just you and your fiance. If the photographer, upon snapping you and your beloved, screams and clutches his eyes in pain, then I will acknowledge that you were onto something.


Dear Prudence: Trashy Sister

Dear Prudence,
I’m 27 and I recently got engaged to a wonderful man who is 34. We're planning on getting married in September. I asked my former best friend to be my maid of honor, and she said she would. However, she also urged us to wait to get married, because we've been dating for only four months. I haven't been very close to this friend for a while, and she has never met my fiance. We've gotten remarks about our "whirlwind romance" from other people when they find out how long we've been together. We've been serious about each other from the beginning and have spoken often about marriage. We were planning on moving in together even before he proposed. But should we hold off on the wedding to "test drive" each other more? Or should we go ahead with the wedding, knowing that all relationships have their ups and downs, and living together for another year before tying the knot isn't going to change that?

—Whirlwind Bride

Dear Bride,
I don’t know if I’m the right or wrong person to ask, because my husband and I were married four months after we met. We, however, had a reason for our whirlwind: I was 38 and he was 41, and we wanted to have a child before my reproductive organs filled with silt. We will have our 18th anniversary this year, our daughter is 16, and we’ve never regretted our mad dash to the altar. I love reading the New York Times wedding announcements, and it’s not unusual for people to recount that after the first date they knew they had found the one. You two may be another pair who knew right away it was right. By your wedding date you will have been together almost a year, so that’s not a negligible amount of time. However, my concern about your schedule is that there is no reason for it, and that if most of your time between now and then is focused on wedding planning, then you aren’t going to be experiencing each other in a relaxed and natural way. Despite my happy experience, I think it’s generally best for a couple to be together at least a year before marriage. That gives you a chance to meet each other’s friends, spend time with each other’s families, go on vacation, and have your first fight. It’s important for couples to get beyond that initial, heady flush in which just being together is like a drug. Your letter raises a couple of concerns. That you’ve had to turn to your former best friend for bridesmaid’s duties says to me that you are feeling pressure about the wedding, and there’s no real reason to make a wedding your top priority. Another is your reference to a relationship’s up and downs. I don’t know if that means you’ve already had some downs. If so, you need to look closely at how easy it was to get back on course. If you haven’t, how you two handle a couple of flat tires on that test drive will be valuable knowledge about the long road ahead.


Dear Prudence,
A few months ago, I got engaged to a wonderful woman. Last fall, after reading a Slate story on Facebook's hidden "other messages” inbox, I checked mine. There were several messages, one of them from the wife of my fiancee’s co-worker. The woman wrote that her husband is a serial cheater and that my fiancee initiated an affair with her husband a couple of years ago. The wife said she confronted my fiancee about the affair and was angry that she didn't accept responsibility. She said my fiancee was a selfish, lying, terrible person, and that I shouldn’t share this email with her (although she asked me to confront her over the affair). It’s possible the story is true; I don't really care—this all happened before my fiancee and I met. I decided to ignore the vile message, but then I started thinking that this woman is a loose cannon and I don't want her spreading stories. My fiancee has a high-pressure, high-profile job at which she excels. If I reveal this message to her, it will be mortifying and stressful. Should I just forget about it?

—Wishing I'd Never Heard of the Other Inbox