Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Going to the Gym Becomes Exercise in Embarrassment

DEAR ABBY: My fiance and I are discussing being married at the courthouse before our actual wedding ceremony -- months in advance. Our reason is he will finish graduate school and needs a place to stay -- or else it's back home.

The second reason is, if we live in separate households, it will create two sets of household bills. Under one roof we can share the expenses and save ourselves an ample amount of money to put toward our actual ceremony and honeymoon.

This is our first marriage and, we hope, our last. We want to make it a memorable one. Does this make sense, and if so, how should we approach our potential guests about our plans to "tie the knot"? -- TO DO OR NOT TO DO IN ALABAMA

DEAR T.D. OR NOT T.D.: The way to handle it is to be open and aboveboard. Let your friends -- and extended family -- know that you plan to be married quietly in a civil ceremony at the courthouse and have a formal renewal of vows, complete with gown, religious blessing, etc. to which they will be invited to share your joy several months later.