Ask Amy: After the wedding, the bill comes due

July 21, 2012

DEAR AMY: Our son got married last week at our house. It was a lovely wedding, and everything went wonderfully.

Until now — now we have bills coming to us for things that we did not agree to pay for. We told our son our budget ahead of time. We were clear about what we would provide, and I think we were quite generous. We spent at least as much as the bride’s family, maybe even more.

Our son’s birth mother (my husband’s ex-wife) took it upon herself to bring food to the wedding (which we did not solicit but were grateful for), and now she insists we pay her for it!

She also took our son and his fiancee to a rental company to rent chairs for the wedding, which at the time I thought was nice. But then she had the bill sent to us! This was not part of the expense that we agreed to before the wedding.

These bills amount to an additional $600. That is a ton of money to us, and we can’t afford it. The ex-wife did not ask us or get authorization for these things, yet she is now demanding that we pay these bills that she incurred.

I feel hurt because our contribution to the wedding is being diminished, and my husband and I are now being painted as cheapskates. I would like your opinion because this is causing quite a rift with our son. -- Mother of Groom

DEAR MOTHER: My reading of your letter is that your husband’s ex-wife has incurred these bills in her name and is now sending them to you, asking for reimbursement. So don’t do it. Tell her that you didn’t agree to these expenses, you can’t afford the expenses and you won’t be reimbursing her for these contributions.

Your son is pressuring you to pay these bills, and you can assume that his mother is pressuring him. Perhaps he is financially in a position to pay his mother a little bit each month until she feels adequately appreciated and reimbursed.

If you are being painted as cheap, you should hold your head up and say, “Well it was a wonderful event, and we have no regrets. We’re sorry you feel the way you do, but we’ve done our best, and — by the way — you’re welcome.”

DEAR AMY: Further responding to the conversation in your column about hyphenated last names, while I was “gestating” my first child, we couldn’t decide about the last name.

When the hospital told us we couldn’t leave until we had a name on the birth certificate, we made the decision to hyphenate and have never regretted that decision.

After reading about this issue in your column I polled my three children (ages 18, 15 and 12) about their hyphenated last names. The 18-year-old says she likes her name and it makes her feel unique even though her first name is extremely popular (she frequently complains about that). My 15-year-old says that when she gets married she’ll decide if her husband’s name is cooler than hers and she might change to his name.

Our children can do whatever they please with their names when they are adults. The 12-year-old and his dad have already decided to drop my half of his last name because it doesn’t fit on the back of his sports jerseys. -- Rebecca

DEAR REBECCA: I like your approach. I especially appreciate your flexibility and lack of ego about something that you have bestowed upon your children — your name. Once you gave your name to them, it became theirs.

DEAR AMY: More on “Jane’s” dilemma about what to have non-blood relative children call her.

I grew up with two great-grandmothers, two grandfathers and three grandmothers! In a time when divorce was rare, my maternal grandparents were divorced and remarried, giving me grandmas “Sally” and “Frannie” and grandpas “Pop-Pop” and “Hal.” I doubt if I ever thought about which of my beloved grandparents were blood-related until I reached my teens.

My point is that only the relationship matters to the children, not the names. -- Lucky Grandchild

DEAR LUCKY: I agree!

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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