Every bride has a picture in her head of the perfect wedding. My fantasy is a romantic beach wedding where I stare into Tom Hiddleston’s blue eyes and say “I do” but yours could be completely different. Whatever the fantasy, the reality is unlikely to involve a celebrity crush and a beach in Fiji. For starters, extravagant destination weddings are expensive, which is why the majority of brides settle for a less ostentatious ceremony, followed by a low-key party for family and friends.
For those with an unlimited budget, ‘low key’ doesn’t enter the equation. Celebrities and royalty are not constrained by budgets or taste. Their weddings are often the height of luxury where lavish displays of wealth are the norm.
People like Kim Kardashian and Pippa Middleton are never going to be content with a simple wedding witnessed by a few close relatives and relatives. Understated is not in their nature. They choose couture wedding gowns, elaborate ceremonies in exotic locations, fine wine and gourmet food, not to mention oval solitaire engagement rings and lots of bling.
If you are wondering what kind of wedding the top 1% have when money is no object, here is a quick list of the most extravagant weddings of all time.
MadinaShokirova, the daughter or a Russian oil tycoon enjoyed a lavish wedding when she married a groom known only as Sador. Her father spared no expense to ensure his daughter had a fairytale dream wedding. Her dress allegedly cost more than $650k, 900 guests attended, and the wedding cake was nine tiers high. Fresh flowers were in abundance and the entertainment cost nearly $500k.
But, if you are a Russian oligarch, money is not an issue, so when Said Gutseriev married Khadija Uzhakhovs, his father also made sure the happy couple had a wedding every bride and groom dreams of.
This wedding reportedly cost $1 billion. Guests were entertained by Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, and Sting, the bride wore a bespoke Elie Saab dress, and there was a fleet of luxury vehicles on hand to transport the wedding party and their guests.
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West
Kim Kardashian’s third wedding to Kanye West was never going to be a restrained affair. After the ignominy of her second wedding ended after only 72 days, Kim wanted her third trip down the aisle to be picture perfect.
The wedding ceremony was preceded by a rehearsal dinner at the Palace of Versailles, after which Kim, Kanye, and 200 of their closest friends and family headed out to Italy for a picture-perfect wedding in front of a gigantic fresh flower wall. The bride wore a couture Givenchy gown for the ceremony before changing into a Balmain gown for the reception. Apparently, two dresses are now the done thing.
A local DJ wouldn’t do for Kim and Kanye, so they hired Lana Del Ray, John Legend, and Andrea Bocelli to sing at the reception. There was a photo booth, plenty of drinks, and a very long and rambling speech from the groom. Oh yes, and some excellent ratings on Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
Petra Ecclestone and James Stunt
Petra Stunt, the daughter of Formula One racing mogul, Bernie Ecclestone, married James Stunt in a lavish ceremony at Castello Orsini-Odescalchi on the Lake Bracciano in Italy. Petra and James didn’t want a simple wedding. The bride wore Vera Wang and the wedding lasted three days and the whole thing cost around $19 million.
There were acrobatic shows, entertainment from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Alicia Keys and Eric Clapton, fireworks, ridiculously expensive bottles of wine, and several members of the Royal Family in attendance. By all accounts, it was a lavish affair, but rather than expecting expensive wedding gifts, the happy couple asked guests to make donations to charity instead.
Pippa Middleton and James Matthews
Pippa Middleton’s wedding to millionaire financier James Matthews was relatively restrained compared to some of the other weddings on this list, but we have included it simply because it was the wedding of the year in British society circles.
The wedding cost an estimated $1.2 million, which is a drop in the ocean for the combined fortunes of the Middleton family and their new son-in-law. The theme was ‘relaxed country wedding’ and judging by the photos, Pippa managed to pull it off perfectly.
Pippa and James tied the knot in the local church and the reception has held at the Middleton family’s home in Berkshire. A rather luxurious glass marquee was erected in the garden to protect guests from the elements. Already, brides everywhere are wondering how they can get their hands on a crystal palace just like Pippa.
Even the toilets were tasteful. No portaloos for Pippa and James! Instead, guests were treated to fresh flowers, mirrors, and all manner of luxuries.
George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin
A million hearts broke when George Clooney said “I do!” to gorgeous human rights lawyer, Amal Alamuddin. It took a long time for George to conquer his commitment phobia, but by the time he tied the knot in the gilded hall of the Aman Canal Grande Venice in Italy, he was clearly ready to be a married man.
There were only 100 guests in attendance, but everyone present agreed it was a tasteful, romantic and elegant ceremony. The bride wore an Oscar de la Renta gown and the groom wore his customary Giorgio Armani tuxedo.
There were plenty of famous faces in attendance, including George’s close friend, Matt Damon, and Hollywood star, Emily Blunt. There were also plenty of paparazzo hoping to catch a sneaky photo of the ceremony, but camera phones were banned, as the Clooney’s had agreed a magazine deal with the proceeds to go to charity.
Donald Trump and MelaniaKnauss
Donald Trump married his third bride, MelaniaKnauss from Slovakia, in 2005. For most people, their third wedding is low-key, but not for Donald Trump. He wanted the whole world to know he was marrying a beautiful model (again). The church wedding was traditional and elegant, but the reception was a chance for Donald to show off his wealth.
As everyone knows, Donald J Trump made his fortune in real estate. He owns some of the most extravagant properties in the world, so it should come as no surprise to hear he chose to have his wedding reception in one of them. For his wedding to Melania, the reception was held in a ballroom at Mar-a-lago. The bride wore a hand-stitched Galliano gown, the guests ate caviar and truffles, and Billy Joel was shipped in to sing a few tunes. The only thing missing was the fireworks. Unfortunately for Donald, no amount of wealth could persuade the local town council to grant permission for a huge pyrotechnic display.
Prince William and Kate Middleton
It seems an awfully long time ago when Prince William, second in line to the throne, stood in Westminster Abbey, waiting for Kate Middleton, his bride to be.
Their Royal Wedding was a splendid affair. Millions of people tuned in all over the globe, eager to watch the prince wed his beautiful girlfriend of several years. Waity-Kate, as she had been cruelly dubbed by the tabloids, was no blue-blooded princess. Instead, she was the daughter of a middle-class family, which gave hope to many young women. After all, Prince Harry was at that point young, free, and very single.
We will never know how much the 2011 Royal Wedding cost, as the royal household never discusses that kind of thing. However, we can surmise from the sheer scale of events before, during and after, that it was an expensive celebration.
Kate wore a lace dress designed by Sarah Burton, topped off by a Cartier diamond tiara donated by the Queen. Her sister, Pippa Middleton, was chief bridesmaid, and thanks to a well-fitted bridesmaid dress, she nearly stole the show.
Following the official wedding ceremony, the happy couple headed to Buckingham Palace in the back of a horse-drawn carriage. They stood on the balcony and waved to a watching crowd of many thousands.
Nick Candy and Holly Valance
Fabulously wealthy property tycoon Nick Candy wed Aussie soap star Holly Valance in 2012. He reportedly paid pop princess, Katy Perry, a cool $1.5 million to sing at his nuptials. That’s not a bad wage for a 45-minute set.
Wedding invitations were hand-delivered to 300 guests around the globe. The celebration lasted three days, but the actual wedding ceremony took place on the beach in Malibu. There were fireworks, a pool BBQ, and a black tie dinner dance. No expense was spared to create a wedding fit for a Bollywood movie, but with guests such as Simon Cowell and Princess Beatrice in attendance, the bar needed to be set high.
Celebrities have the money and resources to hold spectacular wedding celebrations, but it’s important not to lose sight of the true meaning of a marriage ceremony. At the end of theday, a wedding is a public declaration of your love, and you don’t need bags of money to tell the world you love each other.