Dear Amy:

I am wondering about proper gift-giving etiquette when it comes to a combined engagement party/wedding reception being held nearly a year before the actual wedding.

This is in celebration of one of my husband's coworkers and her fiance, who have a rocky "on again, off again" relationship. They are notoriously irresponsible with their finances.

The wedding will be a destination wedding a year away. But on the invitation we received, they are requesting their wedding gifts now!

They are registered to a bank account. Does this sound fishy?

There was no indication on the invitation that the bank account was linked to a separate wedding fund or anything.

I say, give nothing until the deal has been sealed, especially given their relationship history and the fact that the party is a backyard barbecue.

My husband says, give half the amount of the wedding gift now and the other half next year, after they are officially married.

What is your opinion?

- Wondering

Dear Wondering: You can't possibly apply "proper gift-giving etiquette" to an event where the hosts don't seem to know the difference between an engagement and a shakedown.

Just because a couple demands money doesn't mean you have to give it.

I usually give books to engaged couples. For these two, I'd suggest one by my favorite arbiter of, well, just about everything: Judith Martin, "Miss Manners." Martin's latest book, wryly coauthored with her daughter, Jacobina Martin, is just right for the occasion: Miss Manners' Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding (W.W. Norton & Co.).

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