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REHEARSAL DINNER MAY SET STAGE FOR TROUBLE

Dear Abby: My daughter, "Alice," is being married in six weeks. Four family members are coming from out of town to attend and will be staying with me. They are my parents and two of my closest sisters.

The groom's parents, "Mildred" and "Alfred," are hosting the rehearsal dinner. Alice advised Mildred that her grandparents and aunts would be coming to the dinner. Mildred said "No." I then offered to pay for their dinners, but she still refused. Alice and her fiance tried to reason with Mildred, explaining that they could not tell the relatives they were uninvited, but she still said "NO!"I see no logical reason for this decision, but there has been a continuous struggle with Mildred from the start. I have read a few etiquette books, and they all say that out-of-town guests should be invited.

My husband and I are extremely upset, to say the least. My first reaction was to tell Alice that either we would bow out of the dinner, or we'd make our own reservations, invite my family and be responsible for our own expenses. Our daughter became very upset and begged us not to make a scene. She wants us to just attend and say nothing.

How should this be handled, Abby? I don't want to hurt my daughter, my future son-in-law or my family.

- Frustrated Bride's Mother

Dear Bride's Mother: In the interest of family harmony, abide by your daughter's wishes and attend the rehearsal dinner. If you refuse, you will only increase the tension and unhappiness, which is no way for the young couple to start a marriage.

So that the grandparents and your sisters won't feel left out, consider having a dinner party for them and the happy couple on the evening before the rehearsal dinner (or a luncheon for them on the day of the rehearsal). This will give them some special time with the bride and groom, and give everyone a chance to catch up on family news.

And that evening, you might ask a close friend to invite them over (or out) since you will not be available to entertain them. They may have a better time that night than you!

Dear Abby: I am expecting my second child in two months, and I'd like to know why people feel free to ask a pregnant woman personal questions. The most common: "Was this baby planned?" If I say "No," they feel bad that I will be saddled with an unwanted child.

If I say "Yes," I am asked follow-up questions, such as, "How long did you have to try?" Or, "Why did you pick this time of year?" Another nosy question: "Are you planning to breast-feed?"

Abby, why would anyone care whether I'm going to breast-feed or not? How should I respond to such questions?

- Sick of Stupid Questions, Nashua, N.H.

Dear Sick: First, you are not obligated to respond to a jackass just because it brays. Use a one-size-fits-all noncommittal response:

1. "Why do you want to know?"

2. "That's a very personal question; if you'll forgive me for not answering, I'll forgive you for ask-ing."

Dear Abby: I'm attracted to a man who "gets around." I know I deserve better than to be some man's "flavor of the week," but I can't get over him. He's attractive, intelligent, talented and popular - and I keep hoping he'll change his ways and want to be with me exclusively.

I know what I ought to do, but I don't want to do it. If these casual rendezvous continue, I'll lose my self-respect. Is there an easy way to get someone out of my heart and mind?

- Immobile

Dear Immobile: No! You have two choices: Allow the situation to continue until he loses the craving for your "flavor," or take control of the situation and do what you know has to be done.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)