Few people have heard more wedding horror stories than Washington Post advice columnist Carolyn Hax. In fact, in her now annual “Wedding Hootenanny,” she invites them – tales of demanding in-laws, inconsiderate friends, gift-giving dilemmas and the unwinnable battle, which every bride or groom knows intimately, to balance a thousand competing demands and keep everyone happy.

That’s why this advice from last year’s Wedding Hootenanny chat is one for anyone in the throes of wedding planning to keep handy.

A chat participant wrote in worried that the celebration might give off the wrong impression to family members. “I want a small wedding — guests in single digits. My parents want to invite my dad’s extended family, including second cousins. … We’re compromising on an after-the-wedding party. Is there any way to keep this from looking like a gift grab?”

Hax’s spot-on two-part response:

1. People who want to think ill of you will, no matter what you do.

2. You can do everything “right” and end up fodder for some sick WaPo chat on wedding calamities.

Not bad advice for life either.

She added, “Have your small wedding and your consolation party, because that’s what works for you, and just be a gracious host at both. That’s all the image management you need to do, and ultimately can productively do.”

This year’s Wedding Hootenanny takes place Friday, August 15 at noon.