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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My fiance's sister was married three weeks ago. It was the most unorganized, chaotic mess I've ever seen. The night before the wedding, she called me, frantically asking if I could come early to the hall to "help make bows." I immediately agreed. By the time the conversation ended, she had given me a list a mile long of "last-minute details" she had forgotten. I felt obligated to help, knowing she, her mother and bridesmaids would all be busy getting ready for the wedding.

I spent more than $100 on balloons, toothpicks, 15 yards of lovely fabric, a fountain pen, ice, etc. -- and I single-handedly arranged all the flowers and decorated the hall. I finished as the guests arrived. Of course, no chairs had been set up for them to sit on, so I pointed to a stack of them in the corner and ran home to change into something clean.

When I returned, the ceremony was over. But I was just in time to start serving food, as no caterers had been hired. I went home exhausted and feeling terribly used. I barely got a thank-you for my efforts.

The next morning, the bride called to ask if I could dry all the roses for her because a florist was going to make her a keepsake arrangement.

The bride has now returned from her honeymoon. I've given her all the receipts for my expenditures, but she hasn't bothered to pay me back. Abby, so far I've kept my mouth shut about how I feel, but I'm so angry I'm losing sleep. Your thoughts, please? -- FEELING USED

DEAR FEELING USED: Call her and calmly remind her of her obligation to reimburse you. Without you, the wedding would have been a disaster; you deserve a medal for saving the day. However, you may have to wait to receive your reward in heaven. Stand firm when you're asked to rescue her in the future -- my intuition tells me you'll be asked repeatedly.

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing to praise my husband, Gene, who has done what few others would -- he is responsible for dinner every other night! He said it is only fair since I went back to work full time in 1994. It took us a while to figure out the particulars, but our system has worked well for more than seven years.

Gene's birthday is on the 24th of the month, mine is on the 13th. His is even and mine is odd, meaning he is responsible for dinner on even days, and I on odd days. When it's our turn, we cook, pick up food to bring home, or decide which restaurant to go to -- and pick up the check. I still do most of the grocery shopping, and sometimes he adds a few items to my list. I don't mind because Gene is a good cook, and he never forgets to make plans on "his" night.

Abby, the idea for our system came from your column. Many years ago, you solved a mother's dilemma when her kids fought over who was going to sit in the front seat of her car. You suggested one ride up front on even days, the other on odd. We used your idea when our children were young. Thanks! -- CAROLYN LOVELACE, NASHVILLE, TENN.

DEAR CAROLYN: I'm all for recycling -- and a good idea can have many applications.

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 $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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