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by Abigail Van Buren

Bridesmaid's Alteration Is Not Gift Enough for Bride

DEAR ABBY: My best friend, "Sheila," was recently married, and I was a bridesmaid.

About two months before the wedding, Sheila called to say that the junior bridesmaid dress she had selected for one of her attendants was too small –- size 8 for a girl who was size 12. Sheila asked if there was anything I could do to make the dress fit because it was too late to order another one.

After a lot of work and many long hours over a four-week period, I finished the alterations. Neither Sheila nor the junior bridesmaid paid me for the work, and I thought that was because I said I'd do it as a favor to Sheila.

A few days before the wedding, I was still deciding what to give her as a wedding gift, but everyone I asked said that altering the dress should be enough. Well, Sheila didn't see it that way. On her wedding night, she called me several times demanding a gift of money! She said I had been disrespectful by not giving her a gift. Even after her honeymoon, she called again to talk about the money.

Was I wrong not to give her a separate wedding gift?

FRIEND OF THE BRIDE ON LONG ISLAND

DEAR FRIEND: For a bride to demand a gift shows an appalling lack of manners. I think that spending an entire month trying to ensure that Sheila had the wedding of her dreams was gift enough. If you have an itch to do so, scratch Sheila off your list, because she is no friend.

DEAR ABBY: Last July you kindly printed a letter from Christopher Reeve, the vice chairman of the National Organization on Disability (N.O.D.), in which he called on the communities of this country to enter N.O.D.'s Accessible America Contest. The letter generated substantial interest and 64 entries were received. Each one documented impressive efforts that towns and cities around the United States are making to enable their communities to be more welcoming and accessible, so that citizens and visitors with disabilities can fully participate in community life.

In your response to Christopher, you said you would share the name of the winning community when it was announced. Phoenix is the winner of the 2003 Accessible America Contest, which includes a $25,000 prize underwritten by UPS. Phoenix joins Venice, Fla., and Irvine, Calif., the winners of the first two contests, as a model for other communities as they strive to be disability-friendly.

For further information about the contest, Phoenix's winning entry and N.O.D.'s Community Partnership Program, which provides guidance and assistance to towns and cities in their efforts to work with the disability community, readers can visit www.nod.org. -- BREWSTER THACKERY, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, N.O.D.

DEAR BREWSTER: Thank you for the update. And congratulations to the forward-thinking city of Phoenix for winning the Accessible America competition. It demonstrates the city's commitment to execute the plans and devote the funds to assure that everyone can fully participate in the life of the community. That's time and money well spent.

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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