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by Abigail Van Buren

Family Looks For A Graceful Exit From Wedding Festivities

DEAR ABBY: My niece is being married soon on the East Coast. My husband and our two teenaged children have been invited to attend. We cannot afford the multiple airfares and the cost of hotel accommodations that attending this wedding would require.

We don't look poor and we don't act poor, but money is very tight right now because we're paying for the last semester of our third child's college tuition. I had already sent a lovely shower gift to my niece.

How can we gracefully decline the invitation without offending anyone? We also have household repairs that have to be attended to. -- JUST DON'T HAVE IT IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR JUST DON'T HAVE IT: As I see it, you have two choices -- respond by saying you have a "conflict," or tell these relatives you would love to be there, but with the cost of a college education these days, you can't swing it. (I vote for the latter.)

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