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by Abigail Van Buren

Bride's Witching Hour Has Family Bothered, Bewildered

DEAR ABBY: My sister is planning her wedding, which will take place next month. It will be a midnight wedding under a full autumn moon, surrounded by candlelight. She and her fiance will exchange their vows at the stroke of midnight, followed by cake and dancing.

While I respect my sister's individuality and her decision to make her wedding exactly as she wants it to be, I have some questions. My sister is a self-proclaimed witch and practices paganism. Her decision to have a midnight wedding is based on her witchcraft and paganistic beliefs.

Abby, I love my sister, although we're not close and do not share the same religious beliefs. My mother feels exactly the same as I do. My sister wants no family participation in the planning of her wedding or the ceremony. Instead of my mother taking the honored place of "mother of the bride," my sister has asked her to be the clean-up crew! We feel she has not considered anyone else's feelings or the hardship that a midnight wedding will put on her guests.

Should Mother and I overlook our hurt feelings and attend my sister's wedding? (Our husbands refuse to.) Or should we simply send a lovely wedding gift in lieu of our attendance? -- BE-WITCHED SISTER IN SACRAMENTO

DEAR SISTER: First of all, your mother should decline the "invitation" to be the clean-up crew. Your sister appears to be in a world of her own.

I don't know how serious her interest in witchcraft is, or how long it will last. However, if you and your mother are curious about what the ceremony will be like, I think you should attend. It will demonstrate to your sister -- and her friends -- that you care about her and wish her well.

Take an afternoon nap on the big day -- and if you start to get sleepy around midnight, then stay for only a short spell.