MANY years ago, there was an ad on the television warning householders to pay their TV licence.
It was made in black and white and it showed some footage of a large van driving slowly around an estate with a satellite-dish on the roof, spinning slowly while trying to pick out the house that didn’t have a licence.
It would show people hiding behind doors and peeping out through the curtains.
The TV Licence Inspectors had clip boards and trench coats and they moved from door to door with the stealth of CIA operatives searching for Islamic State terrorists.
There would be panic in the streets until these guys moved out and then everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Nosey neighbours squinting through the letterboxes were disappointed when there wasn’t a capture.
Those days have gone, but a new terror has emerged and it is something that strikes fear into the fearless. It comes through the letterbox with the impact of a scud missile and leaves householders trembling. Some have been known to lose control of their bodily functions at the sight of it lying there on the mat in the hallway.
At first glance, it looks pretty and harmless but there is nothing innocent about it.
It is, of course, the dreaded wedding invitation.
It brings with it a whole heap of trouble and it signals the beginning of a process that is going to tear a large hole in your pocket.
It is an order to prepare for stag nights, hen nights, new outfits, presents and overnight stays.
For the “happy couple”, it marks the start of a huge amount of organising, planning, stress and expense, and all for the sake of a day out.
As a guest or family member attending a wedding, you can expect to pay more than €800 when all the associated expenses are taken into consideration.
The biggest single cost associated with attending a wedding is the amount of money spent on the gift and the accommodation.
There is a new trend whereby the wedding is extended into the next day so that means an extra night in the hotel.
There is also the hen night and the stag night and it’s normal now for many of these to take place abroad, so that will be an additional cost. Why it is necessary to travel to somewhere like Prague or Amsterdam just to have a few pints is lost on me.
Some unfortunate souls will have to attend more than one wedding in a year and on those occasions, it might be worth putting your death notice in the paper and laying low for a while.
A popular website, weddingsonline, recently announced the findings of their annual wedding survey. They revealed that while the average total budget for a wedding including the honeymoon is €22,531, a considerable number of couples go over budget, 38% in fact.
So, this means that there are some of them who are hitting close to €30,000 to have their day in a white dress with a fancy cake.
When you consider what a young couple could do for themselves with €30,000, you have to question the sanity of splashing out this amount of cash on a glorified fancy dress party.
Wanting to say ‘I do’ in front of a large gathering of family and friends is all very well, but it doesn’t come cheap. It is an expensive tradition that brings good fortune for some, but not necessarily the wedding party.
Taking each other for richer or for poorer sounds great, but the reality is that ‘poorer’ is probably the most likely outcome. Up to €30,000 poorer.
This survey, based on more than 2,000 participants in 2016, captured the current trends towards weddings in Ireland. The survey showed that 28% of couples take out a loan to help cover the cost and 22% share the costs with their parents.
When asked what their preference would be when it comes to wedding gifts, 77% said they would prefer cash.
It seems to me to be a little worrying that 28% take out a loan to help cover the cost of their wedding. That is a significant number and for a young couple starting out in life, it represents a sizeable debt before they even take a single step on an already expensive journey through life.
It’s also worth remembering that no matter how much money is spent on the wedding, there is still no guarantee that everything will run smoothly.
The best laid plans of mice and men and all that.
Take this tale about a wedding that took place in the States.
The bride’s family was rich and money was no object and the wedding was going to cost a fortune, with no expense spared.
The happy couple arranged to meet the wedding planner for the first time in a bar early in the morning. By the time she got there it was obvious that they were already after having a few. They didn’t seem to be too pushed about the details and that made her a little suspicious.
On the day of the wedding, the bride and groom and all their guests started drinking early and everyone got loaded. The wedding planner got a bad feeling.
When the time came to cut the cake, she couldn’t find the bride. They looked everywhere but she was nowhere to be found so the groom decided to cut the cake by himself. He was completely wasted.
As the night wore on, the bride was still missing but nobody seemed to be bothered.
A few days later the wedding planner discovered that the bride and the groomsman had left the wedding early and had run off together.
Proof that no amount of money can guarantee a happy ending.