Savage Love

The Wedding Party


Good advice as always.
Damn it. I *knew* I should have gone on a honeymoon. Now I know why.
What was the LW with the threesome-having brother and sister-in-law really asking? Whether he should start shaming them for their frankly awesome extracurricular activities? What a nosy judgmental dick.
NARG I too think $1000 on a ring is extravagant, I am also engaged but don't wear jewelry, I told my fiancé I rather he have a cock ring if the ring is so important.
Just to put a slight twist on Ana's comment, why couldn't I run into a honeymooning couple like this one when I was working various crappy service industry jobs.
I actually think that Dan missed the boat on the Columbus Day wedding. It seems to me that the bride to be definitely DOESN'T want her sister there. Why else chose the ONE date that the sister has a conflict with? Seriously, its a aggressively passive way of saying -- "Uh, I am ashamed of you and your gender confusion. Please don't come to my wedding." Hey, it's very fucked up. But honestly? That's the only idea that makes sense here.
Ditto 7. That was my first impression, too.
Fuck yeah, Dan, you rock!
I told my then-fiance/now-husband I wanted a plain grey band of aircraft grade titanium. It cost a whopping $65. I think it's quite symbolic of our relationship: sturdy, unassuming, doesn't get caught in things it oughtn't.

It was economical, it makes me happy, and hell. It matches all of my clothes.
@NARG, Dan's advice is fine, but realize that this won't be the last time this comes up. You might try to talk about the values behind his preference, to see if it's just about symbolism ("my love is real so I don't want a fake diamond") or if it's about keeping up with the Joneses or some other value which you will like even less after a few years go by.
"I don't have a problem with three-ways in theory" ...and I bet you don't get a lot of them in practice, DBB.

Letter #1: I'm echoing @7 & @8: the very first impression I got was that the sister doesn't want her 'embarassing' genderqueer sis & GF to attend. The *only* date she can't make & Ms. Gorgonzilla had to pick that very one?

Stick to your guns, LW#1/TYSM, & don't give up on the reunion you've been organizing. It's not a crime to miss a wedding, & it's not like she's made a real effort to think of your - or anyone's - availability. Comforting thought: I've been to some holiday weekend weddings & they make folks resentful. You won't necessarily be missing much.

As for the last letter with that painfully good advice from Dan: agreed, butt out! & more echoing of a response, this time @6.

Hmph. Don't seem to have much original to go to bed. ;)
@9: I second that!

And Dan, thanks, too, for printing my Griz weight loss updates---and continuing to put up with this crazy lady!
@7 -- Agreed. TSYM needs to tell her sister rather firmly to go fuck herself.
If you want to be still wearing a ring that looks good and is in one piece in 20 years, then you probably need to get one that costs more than $50.
"Uhh.. I have no problem with three-ways in theory, but how dare they have a good time on their honeymoon?!"

Jealous much? Shut the fuck up.

"You're supposed to shut the fuck up and mind your own business—now and always."

Hahahahaha! I'm gonna use this like at least once a day now! lol
The brother should always mind his own business--until it becomes his business. Did he find out about this by hypothesizing after seeing the third leave the room? Keep quiet! Did he find out about this because his brother and/or sister-in-law bragged about it? Then THEY MADE IT HIS BUSINESS and should expect him to react/comment.
#1 I agree with everyone hwo said it's highly suspicious that the sister picked the ONE date her genderqueer sib can't make it. Especially since she didn't ask anyone ELSE about conflicts--it's as if she asked her brother, and only her brother, specifically so she could plan for when he couldn't make it. Especially since they then decided on that date even though they don't know if their venues are available.

It's a shame he's feeling guilty for "rocking the boat" now, when all he did is dare to have ONE other thing planned in the next two years.

#3 While I agree the ring is not worth fighting over, they should have a conversation to make sure this isn't the start of an ongoing trend where he ALWAYS wants to be more extravagant and spend more than she's comfortable with. Money is one of the things couples fight most about.

#4 Huh? Why is he writing to Dan Savage? I don't mean only "Why does he think it's his place to do anything at all?" (though that's a good question, too), but more importantly--why DAN SAVAGE?

Had he written to Prudie or Dear Abbie, he'd have a shot at getting the kind of answer he's apparently looking for. But he must have known Dan, who's not exactly known for his conservative views on marriage and sexuality, would reply as he did.
I love this week's column! I follow wedding and bridezilla questions all over the 'net because they're so gossipy, spicily ... inconsequential. With all the real problems in the real world, with all the hurt and violence, seeing people hop up and down making etiquette productions, well, what can I say, I eat it up like I eat up any theatrical performance and the backstage intrigue. I might have a different take if I knew any of the people involved personally, but to me, they're all actors in a big daytime drama. I have fun watching.

So, for TYSM, it's possible that your sister is deliberately trying to exclude you by picking the one day you can't make it, but from what I've read, it's just as likely that she's really clueless. Booking the venue for a wedding while taking into account cost, catering, the schedules of a large family, and a dozen other variables is a whole huge skill in itself. She likely doesn't know what she's stepped into. For that, sit back and wait to see what happens. You may find that she's taking into account your schedule conflict along with a dozen others.

For the dress, remember that no bridesmaid likes the dress the bride chooses. None. They're all designed to look stupid in bizarre colors, uniquely unflattering on a great number of figures, with the added insult of being too expensive for any bridesmaid to afford. Yet it's supposed to be an honor to be asked to wear such a thing.

Bottom line is that your genderqueer status is irrelevant to your question. Your letter could have been written to Miss Manners by a straight woman: "My sister wants me to wear a costume that I hate for her wedding ..." The answer is to ask before accepting the bridesmaid/maid of honor position what will be involved, then accept or decline depending on whether it sounds like something you want to do. If it were me, I'd just go ahead and wear the damn thing, whatever it was, as long as I didn't have to pay for it, shop for it, or pretend to be excited about any aspect of it, but that's me.
@16 has it - let this one thing be good quality, because only quality lasts, and that's the point of an engagement ring, no?
re: the sister, I agree with 7 completely.

re: threesomes... I'm sorry but am I the only person who heard "I'm the best man" and thought it implied "it should have been me!". Disturbing, but it seemed like such a non sequitor otherwise.
The first letter feels like the flip side of a question to another dispenser of advice (who would probably make the short list if one were setting out to choose Mr Savage's opposite number) some years ago. (Gay) questioner's father was soon to turn 75. His we-don't-discuss-that siblings told him they wanted to give Daddy a surprise birthday party. Questioner asked them please not to choose one week before the birthday, as he had agreed to be in the ceremonial party for his best friend's commitment (no marriage option). Of course, the bratty siblings chose one week before the birthday. What should questioner do? He was told in no uncertain terms that blood-is-thicker-than-water, he could not blow off his father for a party, no his celebrating with Daddy on the actual birthday itself or some other time would not be an acceptable substitute, and because Daddy would want him at the party with all the siblings he really had no choice.

This is so easy to guess I hate to give it a full point, but I am so pleased with Mr Savage's response that I'll be generous and allot a full point to the first correct guesser of the other adviser's identity.
@21 - There's a huge difference between asking a cis-gendered woman to wear an ugly bridesmaid's dress and asking a gender queer person to wear an outfit that does not match their gender expression. One is merely an inconvenience and the other is asking someone to pretend to be someone that they aren't for an entire evening just for the bride's pleasure.

As a cis-gendered woman who'd be very upset wearing an ugly dress... I completely agree with this.
A better objection to the ring than price might be practicality. When we got engaged, I knew that my work would involve much wearing of nitrile gloves. A big rock, or anything pokey, would be really annoying with those gloves so I picked out a ring with a small recessed diamond that cost $300. Rather than saying "don't spend money on me" you can say "buy me something I'll actually enjoy wearing that happens to be cheaper".
Re the wedding ring:

In many social circles, the flash of a nice engagement ring is a reflection on the husband. Even is Mrs. Horton didn't want a big ring, I would rather her wear one to avoid the awkward conversations that ensue from friends when they all inevitably ask to see the ring.

This all assumes the money is largely irrelevant, which NARG says it is.

Dan's answer to Disgusted Big Bro makes sense as it's written, but I see something else in it. I think the DBB is trying to normalize threesomes by applying etiquette rules to them that are as absurd as most other etiquette rules. Look at wedding rules that put all matter of importance to how invitations are addressed, what color the napkins should be, who dances first with whom. Look at the whole books written about the exact placement of step parents and exes in receiving lines. If you think about it, it's all pretty funny. So here's the best man asking if it's appropriate to have sex with the hotel receptionist on the honeymoon. As far as I'm concerned, it's in the same tone of voice one asks if it's okay to dance a waltz with one's step-father before serving the chocolate mousse to one's cousin's ex-wife.

As for Sketch's comment in 20, you might be surprised by Abby and Prudie's views. Abby is still a little bit conservative, but even she would tell DBB to mind his own business, and Prudie's answer would be just like Dan's except with more puns.
As for the letters themselves:

1) Well played indeed, Mr Savage! This erases about six and a quarter heteronormative responses.

Bridey's motivations are likely to be irrelevant. The last time I checked, there were a good number of Italians on Long Island; Columbus Day will be long taken.

2) Why is LW2 in the position of having to consult Mr Savage? This one is a coin flip. Heads: LW2 reminds me of the Mandarin Socialism popularly associated with Bloomsbury during the time of poor dear Mrs Woolf. He's supportive of social justice for sexual minorities but doesn't take afternoon tea with them. Hence the idea of asking any of the groom's gay friends is just unthinkable (to continue teasing Ms Cute about Loitering with Intent, as unfathomable as it would have been for Maisie Young to think of getting a copy of Newman's Apologia Pro Vita Sua from the public library, so that she has to ask Fleur how to get hold of a copy and Fleur borrows it for her). Tails: Groom has no gay friends, which is apparently a growing and disturbing trend among young urban gay men now that the Assimilationists have razed Gay Culture (Mr Sullivan must be SO proud). Accordingly a straight bachelor party will do just fine.

3) DTDDA - Ditch The D* Diamond Already. It has been well established that Diamonds are More Problematic than Red Meat. Even a Free Range Diamond that never passed through the hands of any questionable South African company doesn't advertise its presence as such. And an imitation diamond is only sort of a half-answer.

But it's not as if a diamond or imitation thereof is so much more attractive than any other possible stone, just more expensive. First come to some sort of compromise on the price ($223.61 being the rounded answer to X/50 = 1000/X) and then pick a stone. Even one of the next-to-the-top-drawer stones (which appear to be regaining acceptance fairly widely for this purpose) can provide a much nicer ring at a much lower price, and there are probably some perfectly lovely stones that would allow for about the otherwise ideal ring for about my compromise amount.

4) I have a serious response to 4, but I shall let it sit for a while and permit myself a bit of enjoyment. I thank everyone for letting me be Captain Obvious here. This letter could not have a clearer case of the Operative Word if we were on Match Game with Richard Dawson, Brett Somers, Fannie Flagg and Charles Nelson Reilly.

I sympathize with "Not A Ring Girl". I agree that you need to pick your battles, but considering that "Not" will theoretically have to wear her unwanted ring every minute of every day for the rest of her life, this IS a battle worth fighting. The fiance's main worry is probably that people will think he's cheap - if that's the case, why not get him to buy you an expensive necklace (or whatever other type of jewellery you'd prefer), then you'd only have to wear it on "special occasions" instead of every day, and you can still show everybody what a generous guy he is. Just a thought.
While I agree with Dan that learning to pick your battles is part of a happy marriage, meeting your partners needs is the REAL secret to a happy one. And it's kind of a red flag that he refused to do that right off.
TYSM should invest in a perfectly tailored, perfectly dapper suit that either matches the groomsmen's or has details that match the bridesmaids' dresses. If he thinks it'll work, he should show up wearing it and let his sister be wowed by how handsome and color-coordinated he looks. If he doesn't think that'll work, he should show up in it unannounced.

As a plus? He might actually get to wear it again.

Amen to the advice on DBB. Gotta wonder how he even found out about his brother's wedding night, though. Perhaps one action is required: "Bro, stop telling me about your sexual adventures; I don't approve and I don't want that to come between us."
I know a woman who wanted a cubic zirconia rock on her ring not for the question of expense but because of the whole "blood diamond" thing. She didn't want to contribute to child labor, civil war, etc. Naturally, her fiance was fully supportive of this conscientious approach to jewelry.
My engagement /wedding ring was inexpensive because I refuse to own or wear a diamond. I had it made with my birthstone, something that means something to me. After that wore out, (wore thru the gold band,) my husband bought me a new one in a vintage style - again, no diamonds. Skip the diamonds, save big bucks!
I have similar views about diamonds as 34. I worry that if the bf proposes, he'll buy a diamond because he might think as an American (he's not) it's the sort of thing I expect. But I have moral objections to diamonds and would be slightly offended if he bought me one.
For the first time in years, I agree w/all of Dan's advice, so maybe there's hope for the human race after all. I've had numerous experiences w/couples who decide to marry on a holiday weekend and have the nerve to be outraged when many people can't attend, not to mention the outrageous travel fares involved when the invitees live many miles away. 'Zilla indeed!
concerning the ring question: I agree with Dan: it isn't worth fighting about it. I wanted a cheap engagement ring as well, but my husband got me a beautiful ring that cost more than a grand (I just found out a couple of days ago that it was the single most expensive object he ever bought even though he spent a lot on his computer too). I'm allergic to it and can't have it touch my skin, I'm still afraid I might loose it. But we didn't fight about it. It just is not worth the fight, let him have his way. (we got cheap wedding rings that looked very good when we got them but now after 1 1/2 years their black color start to fade. The engagement ring still looks like it looked when I got it, even though I have it on me every day)

concerning the sister: I had to reschedule my own wedding plans, because my sister scheduled her wedding close to my date (she decided later on the marrying than we did). Her husband refused to have a double wedding or moving the date. It meant that I couldn't be there because I can't fly to the old continent that often and it meant that I had to move my own wedding party because expecting the extended family to attend 2 weddings in one month sounded not like a good idea. She didn't decide on her date to hurt me or ruin my plans, she just forgot in the heat of the moment to check for conflicts. I would give the letter writer's sister the benefit of the doubt too: she was planning the wedding for only 48 hours so far and it sounded as if she didn't inquire for any conflicts before the LW pointed out that there was one weekend that was already booked. as I said (and as it was said before by others) give her the benefit of the doubt. I doubt that the decision has anything to do with the gender queer status of the LW.
Ha, the ring letter reminded me of my own engagement ring story - I just wanted opals, because they're my favorite stone, pretty and colorful (and not very expensive), and I didn't want a diamond because I think they're boring. But both my husband and my Mom ganged up on me and insisted on a diamond, so in the end my husband bought three unset stones - a diamond and two black opals - and a ring with a three-stone setting, and we had a jeweler set the stones. So now I have a unique custom ring, a diamond with opal accents. (You usually won't find diamonds set with opals, apparently because diamonds are such a hard stone and opals are soft.)
$1000 is FAR from an expensive engagement ring. many people spend upwards of $10k, or follow the 3x their monthly salary range. let the dude by you the ring.
I agree with those that say let the guy pick out the engagement ring. Just don't make it an engagement ring/wedding ring set.
You don't have to wear an engagement ring after the wedding. I rarely wear mine because it's fragile, although beautiful. But wedding rings are worn all day/ every day. Get a plain band for a wedding ring and make sure it's comfortable.
@28 has it right. I hate the stupid diamond racket - it's a total scam and waste of money - truly the definition of Conspicuous Consumption. The CZ rings are sparklier, last longer and priced appropriately (according to the utility of the object).

However, I just proposed last fall, and yes, getting a ring that would stand up in social settings - not make me look like a cheap husband and not make her look like the poor cousin - was important, sadly.

I got a CZ three stone monster for $65 for the actual proposal, because the real ring was a custom job that took about six weeks more to get.

re TYSM: The only thing I'd say here in defense of Dan's read is that Bridezilla is asking her sister to be the Maid of Honor...if she were embarrassed about pantsuits and genderqueer and the rest, somehow I don't think she'd be asking her to be the Maid of Honor.
My husband and I (we're gays) had a fourgy with another couple the day after our wedding. That last letter just brought back a lovely memory. :)
Hey non-ring wearer. Do you plan on being married more than a year? If so a $50 ring will not suffice. Cheap metal tarnishes and errodes. Thin cheap plating wears off leaving cheap bronze to stain and irritate your skin. A $1000 ring IS a cheap ring for a real ring. Appreciate that he doesnt want to look a cheap piece of crap everytime he sees you. Get your fake diamond set in a real ring. You'll be happier and so will he.
@44 is right, and yes, there are lots of good reasons - not just the DeBeers Racket - for avoiding "real" diamonds...set your CZ in Platinum, not gold (which is soft and wears).
Hey Dan, Sorry about the hangover, but the Valentines day party was a ton of fun. Thanks for hosting a really great evening. Did Randy manage to get all of that frosting washed off? Ugh. Just thinking about ingesting all of that frosting kind of made me queasy. But it was fun watching.
@39. Honey that sucks that your hubby didn't listen to you. I also wanted a pretty colorful stone (don't really like diamonds). My husband knew Opal was my fav stone and went and had an amazing Lightning Ridge Opal ring made for me. When he proposed with that I knew he knew me better than anyone. 10 years later we are still going strong. I guess the message for guys and girls is to think about what your partner and you would want and don't give in to to the whole need to have a diamond crap. They are kinda boring if you ask me.
Dan, are there any gay bars in Seattle that feature male dancers that get down to their undies/thongs? That's how they get around those pesky liquor and nudity laws in Ohio. Another option would be to have a private party and hire a private dancer. Or would that be a privates dancer?
Road-tripping to a jurisdiction that allows reasonable adult activities (drinking in strip clubs) is certainly an option, however an option that has worked well for me has been hiring strippers that do outcalls.

If the group is of mixed orientation, you can hire a mix of entertainers, and a house or hotel suite is a much more relaxing environment than a strip club. You can also drink and smoke or smoke, have a nice dinner, etc.
NARG - I would recommend you find out WHY he's so invested in the idea of the $1,000 ring set. If he gets a real and genuine pride from spending this much money on it, or if he just really LIKES that ring set, sure, I'd take Dan's advice. But if he's working from a deeply-ingrained insecurity about his need to prove himself as a provider, it might be worth poking at a bit. His feelings about wanting to give a big gift also don't trump your desire to show your love for HIM with a cheap ring. You should find a balance you both feel happy with, but address the issue with humor and humility.

My husband and I spent a lot of money (for us) on our wedding rings, but my engagement ring came from a bubble machine in a truck stop. I was comfortable with that because it was egalitarian. It was for US, not for ME.
Re: Columbus Day weekend wedding. Most K-12 schools have that Monday off - therefore, a lot of parents book mini breaks, vacations, etc. In some parts of the US, it's "Fall Break" and kids have a whole week off. Anyone who would book their wedding that weekend is just asking for a lot of people to send regrets because they will be sure to have other plans.
@36: So...tell him how you feel about diamonds. My bf and I discussed more than a year ago that we wouldn't want anything even trying to be a diamond, and we're not engaged.
NARG, Dan forgot to tell you to smile and say thank you so I'll tack that on to his most excellent advice.
It IS possible to find conflict- free diamonds, people! It's also possible to find hypo-allergenic metals fir setting. And the the buy the ring he wants, as long as he takes your aesthetic preferences into account. Enjoy the splurge! You'll be glad, years from now, that you'd didn't marry a stingy bastard.
For two reasons, I think TYSM should attend her sister's wedding and pass the reunion organizing on to someone else: (1) if her sister passively-aggressively secretly doesn't want her to go, then attending would get her panties in a real bunch; (2) because I've found the most "adult" way to choose amid clashing commitments is sort them by (a) family; (b) friends; (c) lovers; (d) everyone else.

YES, your friends usually behave better than family, and YES, they are more rewarding in a trillion ways. But you'll always feel like shit if you choose friends over family, at least for the milestone-type stuff. Honoring our shitty families gives us grace and nobility. And if they still verbally shit all over you, they're already doing it to others, and they're probably pretty fucking lonely for a wee visit.

We don't always need to like our family, but they may very well be life's best test of our patience. And that's damn good spiritual teaching.
Re. Gay bachelor party -- there may not be strip clubs, but there are some good Burlesque shows that have dudes. The Can Can Castaways have two very attractive male specimens; and, added plus, you can drink at the Can Can...
Why not meet halfway on the ring? Spend a little more than she wants to get lasting quality, but go a little less than what he wants to spend and find a happy medium. Marriage isn't about sometimes just giving in wholesale, sometimes, you can compromise.

Stick a foot in bridezillas ass now before it becomes a real problem.

Brother in law desperately needs his own threesome.
I might get hated on for this but... my bridesmaids took me to Silverado for my bachelorette party. We had a fantastic time. The guys were hot and super friendly. There were only 4 of us women, we were respectful, tipped well, visted fairly early in the evening, and nobody seemed bothered by our presence. It is well worth the trip.
NARG, is this a one-off or is he like this generally? If it's a one-off, it's important to him (I sympathize & the comments about the quality of the ring above are totally correct). If it's a pattern of him living beyond his means, then there's a problem you need to address, stat.
@NARG: As any wedding magazine will tell you, the quality of the engagement ring is a direct reflection of your fiance's value as a human being, and the ring you want to wear basically says "Hi, my fiance is a worthless loser."

The real question here is why are you so intent on humiliating him?
On, and re: rings. If you get something expensive, insure it! You can add a very cheap "personal article" rider to your rental or homeowners' insurance policy. Our jeweler recommended this to us -- apparently a lot of newlyweds lose their rings while swimming in Hawaii on the honeymoon. Most decent jewelers will give you an appraisal at the point of sale that you can send to your insurance company.

Pro-tip, you can add an event insurance rider to your rental/homeowners policy as well for the wedding itself. Geico makes this difficult because they subcontract out everything, but it was easy with State Farm and probably with others. Ask about this the next time you renew your policy.
Wish I could edit @61. $1000 isn't much for a ring. You'll find this out when you go shopping. Gold in particular is really expensive so consider other metals. Your fiance might end up getting you a cheap engagement ring out of economic practicality. Don't say anything now -- no need.
@NARG: One other thing to consider. Most guys interpret a cheap engagement ring to mean "fair game".
#7 Oh yeah, definitely...

also Columbus day THIS YEAR! hahahaaha... yeah good luck getting the sites you want. (unless it's your own super tiny church...)

My first impression is 1) planning the wedding BACKWARDS (don't pick a specific non-changable date without scouting out venues, family conflicts, etc. Maybe it's not sibling's 10th reunion that they're running, but maybe it's a major surgery for a parent or grandparent, or... other weddings) so there HAS to be an alternative motive here. (like "can't NOT ask my sibling to stand up with us, and can't bear to have sibling seen by friends...")

also MAJOR thought I had first: No way is this person even remotely mature enough to be getting married, if the Bridezilla is coming out this fast... Not mature enough to be inclusive of their sibling how is she going to handle the first real marital conflict (storming out and going home to Mother?), or a conflict with the in laws?

so yeah TYSM, "I can't make the wedding I have a prior commitment, let me know if the date changes... " is perfectly appropriate.

* for TWO rings, because he wants to get the wedding ring too with that $1000. I suck at typing today.
Dan - 3 for 3 on excellent advice here. I say you get super drunk every week!
For the gay strip club problem, first make sure that the groom would actually want to include that in the festivities.

As for the engagement ring - make one last attempt to avoid the expensive one. Try to find something silly/exotic/personal/etc. that would be special without being expensive.
My wife treasures her engagement ring - it took two dimes to get it when I went down on one knee to propose in the grocery store. She loves telling the story. [And I get to pipe in with the follow-up story about having to spend SEVEN dimes to get a replacement after she lost it.]
Actually, 4 for 4 I guess but that last one clearly was a throw away, like duh... STFU, bro.
#42 there are LOTS of expectations (cultural, family) that goes with weddings. there's the EXPECTATION your sister will be maid/matron of honor or at the very least a bridesmaid.

So yeah, to get out of that... there's 1) planned calendar conflict and 2) insisting on the sibling cross dressing "to blend in" rather than being themselves.

Have to disagree with you on the engagement ring. If he wants to wear a $1000 engagement ring, he should get one for himself. If she has to wear something on her finger 24 hours every day, she should be able to choose the rock. Otherwise, he's just putting his mark on her.
I told my now-husband that I didn't want a ring (because I didn't), so he proposed to me with a video game. What can I say? He really knows me. <3
Not A Ring Girl -

Dan is right. Pick your battles. I also did not give a shit about the ring, but my fiance (now husband) really wanted to get me something pretty. If your fiance is not a jerk about it, isn't trying to push gender roles or some red flag patriarchal wedding bs on you, I recommend you do what I do and let it go. Let him buy you that ring. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY be part of the buying process. Instead of it being a big hunk of money on your finger that you didn't want, it will be something you chose and love together.

Oh, to add what I said in @72. Wedding planning and marriage itself is a lot of back and forth and finding compromise. Take the time with yourself and your fiance to pick what is most important to you and pick which battles to fight. For ex: we got a ring TOGETHER, worked out a procession that was nontraditional and met both our needs, and I kept my name. Planning a wedding is not happy fun times and the sooner you realize that the better, but you don't have to sacrifice your principles for it. Work it out.

@61 Helped a newlywed couple search for a lost ring in the surf in Hawaii. Insure that shit!
"My problem is that my ideal engagement ring is something that looks nice but is cheap."

"Something that looks nice" leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

If what you mean is that you don't like diamonds because of the whole blood diamond issue, or because you just don't like the way they look, your fiance could get you an engagement ring with an emerald, or a ruby, or a sapphire, or whatever your birthstone is, or whatever your favorite stone is.

If you don't like any precious or semiprecious stone, there are rings without a stone (for example, in platinum) that could easily run about $1000.

Don't limit your search to the jewelry stores in the mall, either. Look in antique stores, which usually have at least some antique jewelry, if that's your style. Go to one or more custom design jewelry stores in your town, or the nearest good-sized city. Look at the rings, and think about what it is about them you do or don't like. Talk to the jeweler about what design elements s/he might be able to incorporate into a ring, e.g., "I like this design, but can you make it in white gold instead of yellow", "with a different stone", "with three stones instead of two", etc. By the time you decide on a unique ring that's exactly what you want, it's a pretty safe guess you'll be up to a $1000 price tag.
For the ring, my wedding band, I was the groom (now husband) was $1000. It's custom made by the jeweler out of palladium. It was in their case and was just perfect for me! My wife's ring used family diamonds and was also custom made. The expense of both rings was not in the materials, it was in the labor to design and make them. Not saying the materials were cheap, but the majority of the cost was in labor. Keep that in mind when buying any jewelery (boy, did I learn a lot while ring shopping for our rings!).

For the bridesmaid, it's your sister's wedding, not yours. As the bridesmaid, it's your job to help try to keep you sister grounded in something resembling reality, but at the same time, it's her wedding and not yours.
@DBB: "What am I supposed to do now?"

Wash out both their mouths with soap and make them go to their room for a time-out?
Maybe $50 is on the low end for someone who can easily afford 20 times that, and maybe they could compromise one or two hundred higher. But it's a REALLY big deal for some people to walk around every day with $1000 on your finger in the form of a tiny, easily lost package of metal and carbon.

$1000 isn't going to buy a house, but from some people's perspective, it's still a shitload of money. It could be better spent on something that's meaningful for both of them. Like a nice honeymoon, or some other memory-making experience they could have together. Or they could fly in some long-distance friends or family for the wedding, people who couldn't otherwise afford to attend. Or pay for a hotel for people who could drive, but who wouldn't have the funds to get a hotel room for a night or two. They could pay for childcare or an alternate kids' party at the reception. It would keep the kids out of the way while still allowing their Momzillas to bring them along like Momzillas always insist on doing.

The couple should go to some vintage or custom shops and look at rings. Doesn't have to be an engagement ring, doesn't have to involve gold or diamonds, doesn't have to have a minimum price tag. It just has to be something they like the looks of, suits her personality, and has a hard enough gemstone to last through years of everyday wear.
"My girlfriend, who is very pretty and feminine, said if I had to wear a dress, she'd go in a suit and bow tie."

Am I the only one who interprets this as evidence of some pre-existing friction with Sister over the issue of being gender queer? From here, that sentence comes across as "If you make my partner dress against her preference, I'm going to rub it in your face and cause a scene (admittedly, a very minor one) at your wedding by deliberately dressing against mine." Kind of passive-aggressive, if you ask me, but it would also be explained by previous conflict with Sis.

Of course, Bridezilla is being pretty shitty herself -- choosing a date that has been a conflict since well before her engagement was even announced, and then acting all upset like it's Letter Writer's fault, when the planning has been going on for a grand total of two days? Seriously? -- so the overall effect is what #7 noted, that Sis probably doesn't want Letter Writer in attendance at all, but would prefer to not be seen as the bad guy.
@50: "but my engagement ring came from a bubble machine in a truck stop"

This reminds me of a cartoon I loved and had on my bulletin board for years:
"The bride may now noogie the groom".
If the girl's afraid of loosing her ring, she could wear it on a chain around her neck.
The ring -- trust me, $1000 in 5 years is going to mean nothing to you, but the symbolism of the ring likely still will matter to your husband/fiance. Plus, you do want something to last.

For my ring, I don't care for diamonds and opted for a yellow sapphire because it has symbolic relevance for me (whereas diamonds don't). But, we did put a good deal of money into the setting as, in my opinion, that's where the true workmanship is. So, I have a ring where the setting is literally 4-5x more expensive than the center stone, but who cares? It's what I like and where I feel the value lies.

I'd highly recommend sapphires as center stones because they're almost as hard as diamonds (9 vs. 10), so they won't crack under normal daily wear unlike some of the softer stones (emerald, opal, anything in the beryl family, etc.). Plus, there are a variety of colors -- blue, yellow, pink, even white if you like the look of diamonds but don't want a diamond itself (and will be like 90% cheaper).

Diamonds have an inflated value thanks to DeBeers -- there is no real intrinsic value to them if you're not using them to cut glass or something similar (like in a diamond saw). So, don't worry about it. Get what you like/want and let the rest of the naysayers go to hell. The only other person that matters is your fiance -- I would try to find something that you both want and reflects his desires too, because the ring can be important to many men as well as a sign of their love, commitment, etc. Don't underestimate or dismiss that.
@63 SeanDr.- Well played. Especially true for professionally successful women who have cheap rings.

Wait, they teach "How to recognize a cheap ring from fifty feet away" in Predatory Guy School these days? I am so not buying this.
If the sister of LW1 really did select Columbus Day weekend as her wedding date AFTER she learned her gender queer sis had a significant commitment that weekend, then she probably was passively aggresively trying to keep GQ sis from being in the wedding party...
However, I have a very close friend who is a gender queer, and her best childhood friend selected her as maid of honor. Talk of pantsuits was tossed around. But my friend, good sport with an amazing sense of humor that (s)he is, ended up sporting a horrific lavender frock. It was definitely absurd to those of who knew her, but it also is the inverse of Dan's assertion that the bride cared more about the dress than the person wearing it. In this case, my friend cared more about being there for her bff's wedding day - in the way that she wanted - than about looking awkward in a heinous dress. And truth be told, bridesmaids dresses usually look heinous on the most feminine of ladies...
@29 Really? Huh, maybe I should start reading them again.
@7, 8, 13, may be right about the bride's intentions, but Dan's advice was spot on. It gives TYSM a classy path to the high road without bowing to sister's bully tactics. If sister really is passive aggressively "not inviting" TYSM and he follows Dan's advice, he is both staying true to himself and holding her accountable. Sounds like a pretty toxic family dynamic--my partner's family is very similar in the blaming/shaming game--and the only way to navigate it is via the high road. I feel for ya, TYSM, good luck!
the third letter writer is not being honest; he has a problem with three-ways both in theory and in practice.
@84 - "predatory" has such a negative connotation to it. I prefer "opportunistic."

In the CEO/medical/legal/finance world, there is a theory that a financially successful woman married to a less financially successful man is most likely to join you in your room at the Marriott at the end of the seminar. A woman with a band but no diamond engagement ring brings out the predators, i.e. first round of Mojitos.

I will now crawl back under my bridge and wait for the billy goats.....
My wedding band cost $45 and is made out of tungsten carbide. It will outlast any gold ring made.

My wife's engagement ring does have an expensive diamond in it that she would be beside herself if she lost (even though it's insured.) The solution was a sterling silver stunt ring that she wears camping and when in high crime areas.
Whoa, totally wrong on #1 Dan - skip the dumbass college reunion. That's on the level with "National Pancake Day" or something equally trite.

Think about 5, 10 years down the line: Will TYSM regret not reuniting with classmates she hasn't seen for 10 years for a single day (and she could always make individual plans to hang out with people anyhow) or missing her sister's wedding? Obviously she will regret missing the wedding over missing a FUCKING COLLEGE REUNION. Are you kidding?
@92 A college reunion she helped plan, that she probably has duties at, compared to the wedding of a sister who doesn't want her there?

College reunion. Any day.
I agree with 7 et al. It sure sounds like the bride is trying to exclude you. But if your notes passed in the mail, and it really was a coincidence, (or even if she is excluding you) Dan's advice is good. Best wishes.
@93 if it's important, someone else can pick up the slack. If no one does, it's evidence no one really gave a shit anyhow.

The letter doesn't say anything about if the sister "wants" her there or not. I'd kill my brother if he skipped my wedding for a college reunion.
@92 I think you might be fetishizing weddings, fetish.

While making a public and life-long commitment to my spouse was important and nice, the part of my wedding that best was that it provided the impetus for people I love but hadn't seen in too long to come visit. It would have been weird, I suppose, if my immediate family hadn't attended and they'd have needed a hell of an excuse to miss it en masse, but it wouldn't have detracted from our "special day".

I see pretty much everyone who attended my sister's wedding as about much as I would like, although I wish my parents lived closer, and don't think I would regret having missed it if I had serious conflict. From here, her marriage seems good, has lasted decades, and her husband seems good to and for her; the ceremony itself doesn't seem to have much to do with any of that.
@90 I think there is such perception in such worlds, but ironically it is a perception perpetrated by men in those fields. By the women in those fields (at least based on my and my friends' experiences), we have to respect the men we're with, but that's not necessarily defined by his paycheck. He has to be in our general ballpark or have some other enviable skill/passion (like a man that's good with his hands and can build stuff goes a long, long way) to earn that respect -- coupled with being excellent in the sack. Those two things and he's golden. We don't mind helping out with the finances so long as we can be the girls in other circumstances.
I'm doing a study on gay marriage for my SOC class. please take my survey
I think the Diamond Industrial Complex is a bunch of BS. De Beers basically took a worthless stone and marketed it as a signifier of a woman's value (bigger the stone, the higher quality woman). I find that a lot of *average* women put a great importance on a diamond ring. The bigger the better. Small heirloom yes, but a big honking winking rock just screams 'desperate for attention/validation'. And that it's usually paired bad plastic surgery and french tip nails.

Great article about De Beers sleight of hand trick:…
jeesh, dan. enough with the disclaimers about being hungover - it's such a cop out. the rest of us just do our best to pretend we're not hung over when we're at work - what makes you different, other than having a larger audience to fool? lame.
Nothing in this column (okay, except maybe the threesome story) would encourage anyone to look at weddings - or marriage, for that matter - in a positive light.
@Not A Ring Girl: Do you or your fiance have any heirloom jewelry in the family? I have two gorgeous rings, one belonging to each of my grandmothers, stowed away in my jewelery box. I always planned that if I saw wedding bells in my future I would suggest one of those instead of purchasing a new ring. Firstly, it's a lovely gesture to family, secondly, it's free, and thirdly, it will be far more beautiful than anything your boyfriend can buy for a thousand bucks. They just don't make them like they used to.

@Disgusted Big Bro: ahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!