Even people who don't follow the life and times of the rich and famous seem to take an interest when they get married. This year's royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton caught the attention of the world, and three months later as they make their way to Canada and the United States, the hysteria hasn't worn off. (For more on the cost of wedding check out Revealing The Hidden Costs Of Weddings.)
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics
For those getting married in the near future, there may be very few pointers to be gained from these weddings but for those who have a spare $5 million to spend on their wedding, we have some resources to get you started. Below are our top five most expensive weddings of the twenty-first century. For you numbers-types, we adjusted the amounts for inflation and converted them to American dollars using currency rates from the date of the wedding.
Amit Bhatia and Vanisha Mittal
DATE: June 22, 2004
Cost: $78 Million
Vanisha Mittal is the daughter of the owner of the largest steel company in the world, while Amit Bhatia is an investor based in London. No money was spared in this wedding. This six-day affair had 1,000 guests flown in on 12 charted Boeing jets. The wedding was held at the Grand Versailles in Beirut, Lebanon and featured 45 chefs, 10,000 flowers, a huge wedding cake and all female guests were treated to luxurious bags of gifts. If that wasn't enough, nightclubs across the city were rented out so the couple could act out a specially written Bollywood story of how they met.
Kate Middleton and Prince William
Date: April 29, 2011
Cost: $34 Million
If you thought that the most talked about royal wedding since Princess Diana would undoubtedly be the most expensive wedding in history, it's not even close although it will be regarded as the gold standard for high society weddings of the modern age. England has a long history of lavish weddings and this was no exception. Between her $136,000 wedding ring, $80,000 cake, $70,000 dress, $800,000 in flowers, $600,000 wedding reception, luxurious hotel rooms for guests costing $550 per room per night, and police protection that cost the tax payers extra money in overtime and holiday pay, no expense was spared. If you're like most of the world, you probably watched the wedding or found scores of pictures.
Al-Muhtadee Billah and Sarah Salleh
Date: September 9, 2004
Cost: $5.7 Million
In Brunei, a small southeast Asian country rich in oil, 30-year-old heir to the Sultan of Brunei, Al-Muhtadee Billah married 17-year-old Sarah Salleh in a weeklong ceremony that included fireworks, 103 limousines, and a solid gold crown for the bride. Salleh was dressed in a lavish wedding gown and held a gold and diamond bouquet. When royalty gets married in Brunei, it is the subject of a national celebration including two weeks of activities, a parade complete with marching bands and a guest list full of international A-listers.
Liza Minnelli & David Gest
Date: March 16, 2002
Cost: $4.2 Million
This was a Hollywood partygoer's dream. Forty-nine year old David Gest married 56-year-old Hollywood star, Liza Minnelli in a wedding that reportedly made even the celebrities who are used to larger than life spectacles stand in awe of what they saw. The wedding party was a who's who of the day. Gest's best man was Michael Jackson and Minnelli's maid of honor was Elizabeth Taylor.
A reported 1,000 people attended the wedding with Tony Bennett, backed by a 60 piece orchestra, providing the entertainment. Party-goers received a big dollar satin box filled with gifts fit for guests like Diana Ross, Lauren Bacall and Mia Farrow. Sadly, this couple proved that a big dollar wedding doesn't guarantee a happily ever after life. With allegations of spousal abuse as well as drug addiction, the couple divorced one year later.
Paul McCartney & Heather Mills
Date: June 11, 2002
Cost: $4.2 Million
This ultra-high dollar event is the most secluded and low profile of our five. Former Beatle, Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, a model who lost a leg in a motorcycle accident, married on June 11, 2002 at Castle Leslie, a secluded luxury castle in Ireland. The 300 person guest list was not disclosed but rumors place all the former Beatles, Bill Clinton, and many heads of state from all over the world. After a ceremony, guests danced on a large dance floor as well as rode in a luxury yacht throughout the event.
The Bottom Line
If you're getting married in the near future, you, like most, are probably looking for ways to cut costs while making your event memorable. Although high dollars make for a big wow factor, remember that overspending on that special day can last a long time. Your wedding will be the most memorable event of your life regardless of the cost. (For idea on how to make your wedding more cost effective, read Have A Charming (And Cheap) Wedding.)