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by Abigail Van Buren

Flashing Porch Light Makes Your House Quick to Find

DEAR ABBY: I have worked for years as a wedding photographer, and during that time I have seen many couples almost driven to elopement because of the pressure they're placed under while the wedding is being planned.

Some situations I've witnessed repeatedly: Well-meaning mothers who plan the wedding they always wanted, and browbeat their daughters into accepting the plans. Divorced parents so bitter they could not put aside their personal feelings for a few hours to attend their son's or daughter's wedding, or who refuse to be photographed in the same shot. Stepparents who are so insecure they refuse to allow their mate to attend the wedding because the ex-spouse will be there.

I've seen "friends" who get the groom so drunk the night before the wedding that he's still reeling the next day; siblings and friends whose egos prevent the bride and groom from choosing the people they really want to stand up with them; and "wedding experts" who pressure the couple into spending more than they can afford because it would "look bad" to do something less expensive.

Abby, I have dried more tears, consoled more grooms and counseled more couples who were ready to throw in the towel and elope than I care to remember.

To all of those self-involved, insensitive people, I would like to say: If you love your child, your friend or your sibling, put your ego and personal problems aside for one day. Listen to what the couple want, support their decisions, and help them make their dream day come true. -- J.G. IN PHOENIX

DEAR J.G.: The wedding season is fast approaching. I hope that all couples about to be married will keep this column handy for well-meaning family and friends who apparently forget whose big day it is.