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Happy News Of Marriage Is Unlikely To Please Mom

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I recently decided to get married. We plan to go to the courthouse next month and have a justice of the peace perform the ceremony. Since it will be nothing fancy, we have decided to invite just a few family members -- his mom, grandma and brother, along with my mom and dad.

What we need advice about is how to tell his mom. She feels that marriage is just a piece of paper and you shouldn't need it to prove how committed you are. Because of her views, he wants to "surprise" her the day of the wedding when we all arrive at the courthouse. I feel it's a bad idea, and she should have some time to get used to the thought of us being married.

Any advice you can offer on when to tell her, and how to handle what she's going to say? -- FUTURE DAUGHTER-IN-LAW

DEAR FUTURE D.I.L.: I agree that your boyfriend's mother should be told beforehand, and the good news should be delivered by both of you. When she delivers the predictable "marriage is just a piece of paper" comment, you should respond that the piece of paper is an important one to you, and your boyfriend should tell her he's doing this because he loves you and, in the event that anything should happen to him, he wants to provide for you. If she gives you an argument, remember that you're asking for her blessing -- not her permission.

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