It's not that I'm angry ... I'm furious. I'm getting married this year, have just got down to the nitty gritty of arranging the big day, and I can't believe there are still people out there who think it's fine to add a premium to their prices, just because the quote comes with the word 'wedding' attached.
I'm not some blushing teenage bride. In fact, it's fair to say I've held out on the marriage thing for quite some time, but 'suppliers' of Ireland think I came down in the last shower.
I always knew the wedding market was quite a caper, but really -- and I'm sorry, but it's my opinion -- the industry is a rip off. Just because it comes with pretty bows, butterflies, roses and/or diamonds (all real or fake), people think they can jack up their prices and we'll blindly pony up.
Well, not this particular bride. No. Nope. Never. I've deliberately kept away from bridal propaganda for fear of contamination. I've not looked inside one wedding magazine, avoided web sites, online forums and (shudder) wedding fairs. This has made me even more naive to the whole racket, but equally, I'm allergic to people who think they can feed out of my (rather moth-eaten) wallet.
So, when I'm quoted €3,500 for a photographer, I'm half way between amused and aghast. €3,500? I could get about three fashion shoots in IMAGE magazine for that -- which take more work and time.
I met my best male friend recently, who gets married the month before me, and he's going through the same sort of stuff.
In selecting his venue, he noticed that many hotels employed all sorts of corny sales techniques ... like one place telling him the package came with " ... use of a knife to cut the cake". Jeepers lads, don't spoil us!
That's just the start of it. Most places charge extra for seat covers in the dining room. As my pal pointed out, he doesn't want to get married in a place where the chairs need to be covered.
Another venue offered tea/coffee and mulled wine on arrival at the hotel for wedding party and guests. Great. What wasn't immediately apparent is that they charged extra for it. And they charged the wedding party per head for tea or coffee, AND for the mulled wine, regardless of who has what. That's sneaky double billing, no doubt.
Then there are the invitations, the dresses, the bridesmaid's gifts, the rings, the cars, the cakes and the honeymoon suites. All of which come with a premium, for no other reason than it's a wedding, and because we brides are meant to be so starry-eyed we don't care about price, we just want the best.
Well, not me. I refuse to go into debt, or get swept away on a tide of unnecessary party favours, photo booths, table displays and videographers. I mean, next minute someone will offer to tweet my wedding for me ... for a fee.
I'm thrilled to pay for the best, to make my big day special, but the best don't overcharge, and don't try to disguise costs, or offer me 'bonus' add-ons like a snake oil salesman.
If something is worth the price, I'll budget and save for it. So if I come to you for a quote, be flattered that I think you're great, and honoured that I think you're fair. Just remember, I expect a knife to cut the cake.