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Originally published Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 5:32 AM

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Wedding blues: Gifts, families make drama

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Dear Carolyn

DEAR CAROLYN: My daughter is soon to be married and would like to request cash versus the usual wedding gifts.

How would you go about wording this request? We are trying not to sound too harsh.

— T.

DEAR T.: The phrasing you seek is as follows: “The bride and groom don’t want your stuff, they just want your money.”

“Too harsh,” right? That’s the point: There’s no polite way to bill guests for liking you, pat their pockets for loose change, or coerce them into paying your bills. So, please don’t try. Thank you.

DEAR CAROLYN: Two cousins are engaged. One cousin has been planning a lavish wedding for over a year, and sent out “save the date” cards nine months in advance. Cousin 2 became engaged days ago. The grapevine buzz is that Cousin 2 plans to marry in haste (no, she’s not pregnant), squeezing her affair in before Cousin 1’s wedding. I’m offended; Cousin 2 will “steal the thunder” from Cousin 1.

I’m stressing over what should be joyous family celebrations.

— Acting Old?

DEAR ACTING OLD?: I suppose there’s the slightest of slim chances Cousin 2 is actually trying to get under Cousin 1’s skin. If she is, then, well, imagine what her marriage will be like; it will punish her for her childishness so effectively that any family censure will just be piling on.

But if Cousin 2 is not otherwise an attention-grabbing twit, then please assume Cousin 2 merely wants to get started on married life without delaying it for a wall calendar’s worth of event-planning.

As long as she’s not forcing guests to choose one wedding over the other, call this a tale of two styles and raise an untroubled glass to them both.

DEAR CAROLYN: My fiancé and I are currently in the final stages of planning our dream wedding, which we have saved and paid for ourselves.

It just came to my attention that my mother has told my older sister and her children they will be in the wedding. My fiancé and I prefer a small wedding party with no children.

I have already asked my younger sister to be my maid of honor, as we are close. My older sister and I barely speak.

My mother has been pressuring me to reach out to my older sister. I have tried calling her on several occasions only to be hung up on. I’ve left messages without a response.

At what point do I tell my mom enough is enough, and she needs to clean up the mess she created by telling my sister and her family they all had a part in my wedding?

— Over the Drama

DEAR OVER THE DRAMA: That point came the moment you learned of your mother’s meddling. Wow.

Fortunately, the moment hasn’t passed. You still can, and must, say to your mother: “You have seriously overstepped, and put me in a terrible position. We are proceeding with our wedding as planned.”

I realize having Sister 2 at your side is the way these milestone events are “supposed” to go. However, you have a fractured family, which means a public kumbaya statement to one sib is a full-face slap to the other.

I’m not suggesting you blow up your plans. I merely advise that you recognize the power of your favor and grant it with a more careful eye to family-wide cause and effect.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax. Find her columns daily at www.seattletimes.com/living

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