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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I write a monthly column called "Abilities," for people with disabilities, which appears in the San Diego Union-Tribune. In it I try to enlighten and empower others with and without disabilities.

You were right to advise "Confused in Kingston, N.Y." to level with her friend about the cruel comment his fiancee made about her club foot, which caused her to bow out of the wedding party. However, the truth is that life is too short to waste time trying to right every wrong. I don't ignore rude remarks like the one featured in that letter, but in most instances, I consider the source.

Abby, there are many battles to fight in life, but this type of battle is not one I choose to tackle. I believe that each of us has the right to choose whom we want to include in our lives. Cultivating WILLING friendships is far more gratifying than struggling to salvage those that weren't meant to be. -- MARILYN SALISBURY, SAN DIEGO

DEAR MARILYN: While I agree that one cannot force friendships, let's not forget that there was already a well-established friendship -- that of the groom and the woman who wrote to me.

When a couple plan their wedding, they usually discuss and agree upon who their attendants will be. If the bride-to-be had an objection, the person to whom she should have voiced it was the groom -- which would have saved a lot of hurt feelings. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: As a professional wedding coordinator, I must respond to "Confused."

Last year I worked on two weddings held only a month apart. I'll never forget them. The first could have been a layout in a fashion magazine. The bride and groom were gorgeous, their clothing perfect -- all five bridesmaids were petite and stunning, and the male attendants looked like models. However, the behavior of the wedding party at the rehearsal and ceremony showed that they valued appearance above all else. I later found out that the couple had hired people from their health club to serve as their attendants to assure the pictures would look good.

I couldn't help but compare the experience with the next wedding I coordinated. The bride sat down with me before the rehearsal and told me that her cousin, a bridesmaid, was in a wheelchair and very ill. The bride wanted to be sure everything would be handled with sensitivity. We discussed the procession, ceremony and reception in detail, with the bride's focus on her cousin's comfort. It turned out to be a glorious day. Their love and caring radiated to everyone in attendance. Sadly, one month later her cousin died.

Need I tell you which wedding was more beautiful? More meaningful? It had nothing to do with physical appearance.

The groom whose fiancee did not want his friend with the club foot to participate in their wedding should take a long, hard look at his bride-to-be. She is either too immature or too selfish to understand what their ceremony should really celebrate. -- JUDY IN TUCSON

DEAR JUDY: I agree. The most important ingredient in a wedding should, above all, be love.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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