Attending a wedding costs a fortune, but it's worth every cent
what could €800 buy you these days?
A week in one of the less salubrious resorts on the Costa del Sol, in March, maybe. Or a really nice bike.
How about the privilege of spending an hour at mass, a few hours awkwardly making conversation with strangers - some convinced they are your best friends due to the alcohol consumed in getting over the earlier awkwardness - then a couple of hours of the sort of dancing they don't allow on TV before 9pm, rounded off by two hours' sleep and a sweaty breakfast the next morning. Welcome to a standard Irish wedding.
A survey by Bank of Ireland has found that the average guest at an Irish wedding spends €800. It sounds a lot, but think about it. If you're invited to a hen or stag, that'll set you back a couple of hundred quid. Stick a couple of hundred in a card, add in your outfit (Facebook has not had a positive effect here, leaving all of us like Elizabeth I with her no-gown-worn-twice policy) and you've hit the mark.
For people who attend one or two weddings a year, it's pricey but not financially devastating. However, for those of us in the danger zone (anyone two or three years either side of 30), it becomes your entire life.
The number of weddings people go to seems to be dictated by their job. Weddingitis is an occupational hazard of teachers, who seem to always be invited to the wedding of every single person they work with, thus filling those famously lengthy summer holidays.
Forget the dream of travelling the world in your summers that made you put Mary I on your CAO form - it's Gorey one weekend and Gortahork the next. The closest you'll get to full-moon parties in Thailand is being mooned by a stag party in a superpub in Tullamore.
That said, if everybody hated weddings as much as we pretend we do, they'd have been relegated to the dustbin of history by now. We certainly wouldn't have had a referendum yesterday to have even more of them. They create the memories of a lifetime and reunite long-lost friends.
As for that dancing, you couldn't put a price on it.