May 18, 2018

Normally I wouldn’t give two crumpets about a royal wedding, but with three twenty-something daughters, I periodically look at wedding costs. Thus, I may take a peek this weekend to see if I can get some tips although I have already ruled out Windsor Castle as a Curtin wedding venue. I have narrowed our choices down to three more economical venues including a local Arby’s Roast Beef, The Blackstone Valley Gun Range and The Belchertown Bowlaway. 

The average cost of an American wedding is $32,641, according to a 2015 study by “The Knot”. If you guessed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding will cost more, then you win a box of Uncle Ben’s Industrial Strength Wedding Rice.

Harry and Meghan’s wedding weighs in at an estimated cost of $46M, however 95% of that total is for security precautions that include snipers and drones. Total expenses excluding security are estimated to be $2.8 million. This cost breakdown parallels the expense of the 2011 marriage of Kate Middleton and Prince William. $32M of that wedding’s $34M bill went to security precautions. Kate’s only expense was for her iconic dress that cost $434,000. Meghan is footing the bill for her dress which will easily cost six figures.

Harry and William are quite frugal when compared to their father Price Charles or their Great-Aunt Margaret.   Charles and Princess Diana‘s wedding cost $48M in 1981 with only $1M needed for security. The extravagant wedding that is best known for Diana’s gown covered with 10,000 pearls cost four times more in today’s dollars than the weddings of Charles’ sons. The flamboyant Princess Margaret’s 1960 wedding to commoner Antony Armstrong-Jones cost more than her sister Queen Elizabeth’s nuptials with expenses estimated at $500M in 2018 dollars.

Expensive Non-Royal Weddings 

The 2016 marriage of Said Gutseriev, son of a Russian billionaire to Khadija Uzhakhovs is reported to have cost over $1B.The bride’s diamond studded gown and train weighed an estimated 25 pounds making it difficult for her to walk without assistance (it must have been a bitch doing the cha-cha). Guests were entertained by Jennifer Lopez, Sting, and Enrique Iglesias.

In 2004, Indian business magnate, Subrata Roy, accumulated $123M in wedding costs. At first, I thought this was outrageous but then I realized it was a double wedding for his two sons. I’m sure there are many jewelers who have a buy one 20-carat diamond get the second at half price.

In 2005, London banker Amit Bhatia married Vanisha Mittal, daughter of billionaire Lakshmi Mittal.  The $60M tab included invitations mailed in silver boxes and designer gift bags filled with jewels. Guests were provided plane tickets and rooms at a five-star Paris hotel for the five-day celebration A pre-wedding ceremony was held at the Versailles Palace and post-nuptial fireworks were launched from the Eiffel Tower.

In 2011, Miss Yugoslavia Aleksandra Kokotovic married Russian billionaire, Andrey Melnichenko at Cote d’Azur, France at a cost of $36M. Entertainers Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera were both paid $3.6M.

Also in 2011, Petra Ecclestone, daughter of billionaire Bernie Ecclestone married entrepreneur James Stunt in a medieval castle outside Rome. What did they get for their $20M? – a three-day long event including performances by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Andrea Bocelli, Eric Clapton, Alicia Keys, and Black-Eyed Peas. The wine cost $6,500 per bottle and the bride’s Vera Wang gown cost $130,000. (Hopefully she refrained from doing the gator when Clapton performed “After Midnight”)  

Weddings of the Slightly Less Wealthy

Construction worker, Larry Fortensky became Elizabeth Taylor’s seventh and last husband in 1991. Michael Jackson acting as father of the bride hosted the $2.5M wedding at his Neverland Ranch. It was a somewhat epic marriage for Liz, lasting almost five years.

Liza Minnelli and music producer David Gest spent $3.5M for their 2002 ceremony which included $700,000 for flowers. Liz Taylor was maid of honor while Michael Jackson (who else?) served as best man. Entertainment was provided by Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, and Natalie Cole.

Elizabeth Hurley & businessman Arun Nayar spent $2.6 million on two wedding ceremonies-  a traditional Anglican wedding in an English castle followed by a Hindu ceremony in Jodhpur, IndiaElton John performed and gave away the bride. Four years later, the couple divorced after pictures surfaced of Elizabeth kissing Australian cricketer Shane Warne. The judge took only 92 seconds to determine that their marriage had “broken down irretrievably”.

Sir Paul McCartney and entrepreneur Heather Mills married in 2002 at his castle in Ireland. The cost of the lavish reception was 3.6M which was a pittance compared to the $40M Sir Paul paid in the divorce settlement six years later. 

All the best, Meghan and Harry. 

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