The Five Most Expensive Weddings of All Time

March 9, 2023

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The single most special, unforgettable and expensive event in most of our lives is the day we marry our significant other. On average, a typical wedding will likely set you back about $40,000. The nuptials detailed below, however, are anything but typical.

For some, mostly royals, celebrities and wealthy business types, a wedding’s not a wedding unless the national debt of a small-to-medium-sized country has been paid to facilitate it. The love of the five couples featured below might not be stronger than yours, but certainly celebrating it came at higher price.

#5 Prince William and Kate Middleton

Viewed by a global audience of two billion, the elaborate royal wedding enjoyed by Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011 rang up a bill of $34 million. Adjusted for inflation, the price tag remains a mere $37 million.

Expenses included accommodating 1,900 people at the Westminster Abbey ceremony, then 600 at a luncheon hosted by the Queen and a further 300 at a dinner hosted by Prince Charles. Kate’s gown, designed by Sarah Burton, cost a cool $400,000. The cake alone cost $80,000, and ten times that amount was spent on flowers. Everyone agreed it was a very nice day.

#4 Vanisha Mittal and Amit Bhatia

The elaborate, six-day wedding festivities enjoyed by Vanisha Mittal, the daughter of a billionaire steel-magnate, and wealthy i-banker Amit Bhatia, were heralded by invitations mailed in silver boxes, containing plane tickets and rooms at a five-star Paris hotel. Venues included a 16th-century chateau, the Palace of Versailles and a temporary wooden castle.

Celebrity chefs prepared a succession of lavish banquets. A highlight of the festivities included a performance from Kylie Minogue while fireworks bathed the Eiffel Tower in golden light. To cap it all, guests returned home with designer gift bags filled with jewels. Back in 2005, the bill came to $60 million. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $80 million today.

#3 Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles

Back in 1981, $48 million is what it cost to throw a fairytale Royal wedding. Adjusted for inflation, you’re looking at $166 million today. The ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral was attended by dozens of royals and viewed by a global TV audience of 750 million. Diana’s celebrated wedding gown, designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, was crafted from ivory taffeta and antique lace, with a 25-foot train.

At the reception, guests were treated to 27 wedding cakes, alongside an additional, five-foot main cake that supposedly took 14 weeks to prepare. An identical backup cake was also made in case anything happened to the first one.

#2 Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Princess Salama

A seven day event requiring a stadium to be built from scratch to accommodate 20,000 guests, the 1981 wedding of Princess Salama and Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, cost in the region of $45 million dollars. Adjusting for inflation, that would be $155 million today.

Included in the cost were 20 bejeweled camels laden with wedding gifts from the groom to the bride, and a lengthy horseback tour of the Emirates during which time the newlyweds handed out food and gifts to the people.

#1 Khadija Uzhakhovs and Said Gutseriev

Although there’s no official figure for the 2016 Moscow wedding of Khadija Uzhakhovs and Said Gutseriev, heir to a vast oil fortune, pundits have estimated the cost of the event to be in the ballpark of one billion dollars.

From the bride’s Elie Saab gown and blinding diamond bling to the palatial, flower-smothered venue, no expense was spared. In fact, from the Godzilla-sized cake and fleet of luxury cars to the explosive fireworks display, every expense was embraced, then tripled. World class wedding band too, with performances from Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias and Sting.

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