Dear Carson: Our son broke his engagement for a wedding scheduled for July. Last week we received a letter and a bill from the bride's parents asking us (the groom and parents) to reimburse them $4,400 for the nonrefundable deposit for the reception. We had no idea that the deposit was so large or that it was nonrefundable. The bride returned the engagement ring when they broke up. How much, if any, of this $4,400 are we obligated to pay to the bride's parents? - Parents' Predicament
Dear Parents: This is, indeed, an unfortunate and costly situation for both sets of parents. Although you did not book the reception hall, your son was the one with cold feet. I suggest that both sets of parents bite the bullet and split the bill. Hopefully, you might both be comforted by the knowledge that a broken engagement is preferable to a spoiled marriage.
Dear Carson: With the high cost of postage, my wife and I are trimming our Christmas card list. Should we send a card to everyone who has sent us one? Should we send a card to everyone we know on a social basis? Should we send a card to only people with whom we do not exchange gifts? - Christmas Card Conundrum
Dear Conundrum; The whole Christmas card bonanza has gotten out of hand. There are some friends and family who you only hear from at Christmas, but of whom you are especially fond. Christmas cards are especially for people whom you want to greet but who you are not close enough to exchange gifts. Sometimes family members with whom we do exchange gifts send cards with pictures of their children. I hope this helps.
Dear Carson: This is an issue that has always thrown me. When the maitre d' prepares an entre or dessert are we supposed to tip them? I do not mean if we request it, it is when the restaurant does it that way. - Dining Dithers
Dear DD: Yes. While the waiter's tip is left on the tray on which he brought your bill, the maitre d' or headwaiter should receive his by hand when leaving the restaurant.
Dear Carson: Our friend is turning 40 this month and has just started dating someone who wants to put a birthday party together. They've asked for our help in planning the event. They don't have a lot of money to spend and want to ask their guests to pay $20 a person for the lunch plus a cash bar. We don't think it's a good idea. - Stuck in the Middle
Dear Stuck: It is not a good idea. Pay parties are not gladly received unless they are for charity.
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