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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Your recent letter about cutting costs of wedding receptions prompts me to tell you how the majority of residents in New Orleans, a city renowned for its hospitality, handle this.

Instead of sit-down dinners that cost "X" dollars per head, we have receptions similar to cocktail parties. This eliminates the headache of paying for the dinners of guests who don't show up, and also gives guests a chance to mingle without being restricted to conversation only with those seated near them at a table.

Receptions can be simple or very elaborate, depending on the wealth of the bride's parents. What the caterers charge depends on the number of guests invited. I have attended wedding receptions where champagne and exotic hors d'oeuvres were offered in great variety -- and others where hot dogs, chips and beer were served.

Caterers maintain their own reception rooms, or brides may choose a church hall, a community building -- or even their own homes. Music can range from the strains of an elegant harp and violin group to a lively combo for dancing, or even canned music piped over loudspeakers.

Why doesn't the rest of the country try this? -- M. HIGGINS, A LIFELONG NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT

DEAR M. HIGGINS: What a practical solution. My guess is that this practice is more widespread than you realize. After this appears in print, perhaps more people will give it a try.

DEAR ABBY: I am writing in hopes that others like myself will speak up when they are offended by magazines folding numerous perfume advertisements in each magazine and mailing them to subscribers.

I'm a widow with allergies and asthma, and I have heard numerous complaints from friends in church and garden clubs about the ads. Most women are busy 24 hours a day raising children and working out of their homes to help with expenses, and do not have time to write the publishers about this invasion of privacy.

I wrote several letters and was told I could get my money back from the agency from which I ordered the magazines. Some of them I have subscribed to for years, and it makes me mad that they will not acknowledge the fault as theirs. People do no want their home smelling like a house of ill repute, and it will if they have their magazines delivered to the house.

If this letter were published in your column, maybe we could get this disgusting advertising stopped. -- NO MORE NOXIOUS ADS, GRANBURY, TEXAS.

DEAR NO MORE: I doubt it. I have tried, but the magazine publishers have turned up their noses at my complaints.

DEAR READERS: Several seeks ago I printed a touching story, "The Story of Abby" (an abandoned Doberman who was rescued by a kind soul) from the book "The Kindness of Strangers." Many animal lovers wrote to ask where they could buy a copy, and on the chance that others may also wish to purchase it, here's the information: The cost is $10 a copy, and checks or money orders (no cash!) should be mailed to: The Auxiliary for DeKalb Animals, 85 Leighs Grove Way, Grayson, Ga. 30221. The stories will both break and warm your heart. They did mine.

DEAR READERS: If you would like your letter published, please include your name, area code and telephone number.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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