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by Abigail Van Buren

Gifts Brought to Reception Become Burden to the Bride

DEAR ABBY: Our daughter was married yesterday after some whirlwind planning in which we used your wedding planning book. A question has arisen that was not addressed in the book: Many guests brought their gifts to the reception.

When the gifts were collected to be taken home, the ushers handed the bride's father a stack of envelopes that had been on the gift table. We have no idea whether these envelopes are gifts themselves, or became separated from their packages.

When the newlyweds return from their honeymoon in three weeks, they will have a massive job of unwrapping. What do they do if they find several unidentified packages and assorted cards? How do they match them up to be sure they thank the right guests for the right gifts? -- BARBARA K., KENILWORTH, ILL.

DEAR BARBARA: When the bride returns, she will open the envelopes. Some will probably contain "the gift" (money), and those envelopes that became separated from the gifts will (let's hope) contain cards signed with first and last names.

Write thank-you notes to those you match up with gifts. And telephone (or write) to the others, tell them that their card and gift became separated, then ask them which gift was theirs. Embarrassing? Yes. But that's the price one pays when such accidents occur.

There ought to be a law against hand-carrying gifts to weddings. It imposes a burden on the bride's parents, who must take the gifts home and store them until the newlyweds return.

Wedding gifts should be sent directly to the bride in plenty of time for her to open them and make a record of the gift and the giver, so the giver can be properly thanked.