Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: There is a trend happening these days. Young people live together for several years, get pregnant and go to the justice of the peace to get legally married. Then, a year or more later, they sometimes decide to have a formal wedding ceremony. Friends throw them a shower, and the wedding is often elaborate.

I thought a shower gift or wedding gift was to help the new couple to get their household set up. These couples already have everything in their house. I feel this is a slap in the face of tradition. What are your thoughts?

— Old-fashioned

DEAR OLD-FASHIONED: Yes, it's a break with tradition. These changes have occurred because of changes in social mores, the economy and gender roles. The tradition used to involve a young woman going directly from her parents' house to that of her husband.

More recently, young people have postponed marriage, established themselves in the workplace and achieved economic independence before coupling up. This is a positive step because if the marriage fails or the spouse dies, the widowed spouse isn't left without the tools to support themselves and their family.

While you may think the couple "already has everything they need," take a peek at their bridal registry because it may be an eye-opener. And remember, if you cannot celebrate happily with the couple, no rule of etiquette dictates that you must attend the wedding.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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