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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I became engaged. We are trying to decide whether to have a large wedding or elope. This is my second marriage and his first.

My first wedding was held in the town where I lived, 2,000 miles from my parents' home. It was very expensive, and my parents paid for everything. They told me they will not pay for this wedding unless it is held in the town where they now live. It's halfway across the country from where my boyfriend and I reside. Neither of us has friends there, but my mother's relatives live within driving distance. (These family members missed my first wedding because they could not afford to travel.)

Abby, my boyfriend's parents don't want to go that far for a wedding, and I think his mother is hoping we will marry in her Catholic church. I suspect my boyfriend wants to be married in their hometown and in the church, but he doesn't want to ask his parents to help pay for the wedding.

I feel bad because traditionally the bride's parents pay for the wedding. My mother is putting pressure on me because they spent a lot of money on my first wedding and her family wasn't able to attend.

My boyfriend and I cannot afford to pay for a wedding, so we have considered eloping or having a small wedding where we live with only family and close friends attending. We could then have two receptions, one here, and one in my parents' area. My parents might pay for a reception there.

Abby, is this a proper solution, or will people think we are cheap? And will this offend either set of parents? I'm willing to go with the flow, but I'm not sure in which direction it is flowing. -- UNHAPPY WEDDING PLANNER

DEAR UNHAPPY: You are making a lot of assumptions. You and your fiance should discuss this thoroughly before you proceed. Parents are not obligated to pay for any wedding, although they may pay for the first wedding as a gift. The bride and groom usually pay for the second (or subsequent) weddings.

Perhaps you and the groom should not be in such a hurry to walk down the aisle, and instead take time to save for the kind of wedding you both desire.

A small wedding with two different receptions to accommodate your parents and his would not be out of line. However, it would show more maturity if you and the groom financed everything yourselves.

DEAR ABBY: My co-worker has terrible bad breath. Others in the office have noticed it, but nobody has had the courage to say anything to him at the risk of offending him.

I work closest to him, but don't feel "close" enough to personally confront him.

The only way I can cope is to pop breath mints all day -- and always offer some to him. Sometimes I run out of them, and I can hardly do my job.

What would you do in my situation? -- CHOKING IN L.A.

DEAR CHOKING: The co-worker should be told!

I would ask to speak to him privately, take a deep breath, and simply tell him. He may be unaware of his problem, and the condition could be symptomatic of a medical or dental problem.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, 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.)

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