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Problematic mother of the groom may chill later on

Kyle and I are on a budget and were engaged for a year trying to save up enough to even begin planning our wedding. Then Kyle's mother graciously offered to lend us her house for the event.

It's a big old place with a lovely backyard. We thought it would be perfect.

We picked out food options (with my aunt and cousins as the catering team), took care of the DJ (we put together a massive playlist of all our favorite songs) and sent out invitations (which our graphic-designer friend made). It was shaping up to be our dream wedding, even on a modest budget - that is, until a week ago, when my soon-to-be mother-in-law went into meltdown mode.

She's stressing out majorly, saying it isn't fair for us to put so much pressure on her. The thing is, I'm not even sure what she's talking about. Kyle and my bridesmaids and I have taken care of all the big items on the to-do list. And we're really laid-back people, so even if something were to go wrong or be missing, we wouldn't get angry. We just want to get married.

Unfortunately, she's blown everything out of proportion and, just to make things worse, dug up old family drama. She and Kyle got into a huge argument about a week ago and haven't spoken since. What should we do? Postpone the wedding? Look for another venue? Sedate her? - Bride-to-Be or -Not-to-Be

Dear Bride: Put away the tranquilizers. With some luck, words will be enough to calm the mother of the groom down.

Weddings can be a sensitive time for all involved, filled with excitement and nerves. Marriage is a huge milestone and signals major change.

Kyle's mom is probably feeling a mix of competing emotions. She's happy that her son has found in you a life partner, but she's also probably dealing with the fact that she will no longer be the main woman in his life. She could be taking out her anxiety on something she can control - namely, the venue.

Be patient with her. The fact that she was so excited to lend you her house to begin with leads me to believe that she can be persuaded. You and your husband-to-be just need to assure her in every way possible that everything will be handled by the two of you; her only duty is to be there.

Dear Annie: As a newly single woman who has been staying in motels alone for the first time in my life, I have realized that I am completely ignorant about at least one subject.

I have no idea how much tip you are supposed to leave for the maid. Some motels leave an envelope for this purpose. I usually end up leaving all the cash I have, but I don't know whether that is too much or that is too little. What is the right amount? - Uninformed

Dear Uninformed: The American Hotel & Lodging Association recommends tipping housekeepers $1 to $5 per night, leaving cash in a marked envelope or with a note. Visit the AHLA website for a handy gratuity guide, which includes suggested tips for shuttle drivers, concierges and other hotel staff.

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