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A wedding photographer’s take on broken engagements |
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A wedding photographer’s take on broken engagements

Carolyn Hax
| Friday, July 6, 2018 8:57 p.m

While I’m away, readers give the advice.

On engagements broken after the deposits are paid:

I run a photography studio, and we’ve documented over 1,000 weddings. I’ve had about 3 percent of all couples break up prior to the wedding.

One of my favorite turnaround stories came a few years ago. The couple broke up just six weeks prior. Everyone’s flight and tickets were paid. The bride’s family decided to have a party at another venue. They still had me document the festivities, and it became an empowering night to start fresh surrounded by loved ones. This same bride connected with me three years later and I successfully documented her nuptials. (I like this new groom much better, too.)

Many vendors will offer some relief, discount, or in our case, to use your credit in a future shoot. You may also be able to donate your services to a nonprofit, or a friend in need. None of these options is ideal, but this is an opportunity to show resilience and a great heart.

— J.

On the agonies of picking out gifts:

I always give my progeny what they most desire: cash! I get a warm hug and it’s over. I’m not worried about giving an item that will bring warm, fuzzy memories to them after I’m gone. I won’t mind … I’ll be deader ‘n a carp.

— Texas Grandpa

On taking the drama out of drama:

I grew up as an only child. I was put in the awkward position of planning my father’s funeral with a stepmother whom I’d just met. During the planning process, my stepmother asked, “So, should we invite your sisters?”

Um, what?

“You know, your half-sisters. From his first marriage.”

After doing a bit of detective work, I found out that my mother knew, my mother’s family knew — everyone knew but me. My half-siblings knew who I was. Mind. Blown.

I met my half-sisters for the first time at my father’s funeral. And that was the last time I saw them. Although we exchanged pleasantries during the funeral, and they encouraged me to keep in touch, we came to unspoken agreement that this would be the last time we’d see each other. They’d lived their lives for decades doing nothing to reach out despite knowing of my existence; meeting them didn’t do anything to change the fact that I wasn’t really part of their lives. Half-siblings don’t really change my worldview as an only child. That’s how I grew up, that’s how my parents treated me, and that’s the way I’ve lived for the better part of three decades.

Sometimes you just open Pandora’s box and find there’s nothing all that interesting inside.

— AK

On nurturing bonds with your kids:

Save “No” for when it really matters. I had a child at age 37 and this was my credo.

I’m now 65 and I think, aside from loving her, my daughter benefited most from this.

— K.

Email Carolyn at, follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

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