Dear Abby: Don't you think it's time we retire some of the traditions that originated when they served some useful purpose, but have no place in the late 20th century?

When the responsibility for wedding expenses was assigned to the parents, it was common for children to marry when the bride was still a child. She was prepared to be only a housewife, and seldom - if ever - gainfully employed. Likewise, the groom was a youth likely struggling to establish a home. Hence, a tradition was born, based on common sense.The bride and groom of today, however, are usually older, and on more stable financial ground than their parents were.

Why should older people have to mortgage their homes, spend their retirement nest eggs, or take out loans to pay for lavish weddings, while the newlyweds trot off to luxury homes? It's insanity that a supposedly intelligent, educated society clings steadfastly to outmoded traditions from horse and buggy days.

Modern etiquette should be updated to dispose of the ridiculous.

- Eastlake, Ohio, Reader

Dear Eastlake Reader: For years I have pointed out that although the bride's family gives the wedding, nowhere is it written in stone that it is imperative. An elaborate wedding is a gift - not an obligation. And in recent years, more couples have opted to pay for their own weddings, which makes sense to me - particularly if the bride has left the nest and established her economic independence.

For parents to spend their savings or take out loans to finance the equivalent of a Broadway extravaganza is, in my view, needlessly pretentious and foolish.

In 1992, I published a letter from Dr. E. Parke Sellard of Fallbrook, Calif. His words of wisdom bear repeating:

"I devised the following plan for my daughter's wedding to protect myself and our sanity.

"I gave her a set amount for the total to be spent. If the wedding cost more, she and her fiance would pay the difference.

"She had her wedding at Balboa Park in San Diego. Her mother made her wedding dress. A close friend was a photographer, and he gave her the pictures as a wedding gift. We bought many of the flowers at the market. By spending her money carefully, she had a nice check waiting for her when they returned from their honeymoon.

"This plan enabled all of us to enjoy a beautiful wedding and to keep our tempers and sanity intact."

Dear Abby: Considering the potential for accidents and fires from Christmas lights during the holidays, may I make a suggestion?

Many times in emergency situations, one panics and draws a blank when the 911 operator asks for the address. I have placed my printed return address labels on all my telephones.

These labels also would help visitors and overnight guests if they need to call 911.

- Longtime Reader in Denver