Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer
Prince William’s parents were wed at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral 30 years ago, the lavish wedding attracted a worldwide audience of some 750 million people. The cost of the event has never been disclosed but it was undoubtedly an extravagant affair. Diana’s engagement ring, now worn by Kate Middleton, cost around £30,000 then, that’s about £85,000 in today’s money. And the show-stopping three-and-a-half minute walk up the aisle gave everyone a chance to see her unforgettable Emmanuel-designed ivory, taffeta and antique lace gown with that 25-foot train, which cost £9,000 then, about £25,000 today.
Al-Muhtadee Billah and Sarah Salleh
In 2004, Oxford-educated Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah, heir to the Sultan of Brunei, married 17-year-old Sarah Pengiran Salleh at Nurul Iman Palace in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, in an elaborate affair. The wedding, which was estimated to cost £2.8 million, was pure extravagance, with endless ceremonies said to “showcase centuries of Bruneian tradition”. Countless royals and leaders from around the world attended the nuptials of the first-born son of the Sultan. The prince will eventually be the 30th sultan in an unbroken chain of rulers stretching back through Brunei’s more than 600 years as a Malay Muslim kingdom. The bride was born to a Bruneian father and a Swiss-born nurse, Suzanne Aeby.
Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling
When Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria married her former personal trainer Daniel Westling in June 2010, the bill topped 20 million kronor, about £1.9 million. Some 250,000 people, including an estimated 150,000 tourists, lined the streets of Stockholm to watch Sweden’s fairytale wedding take place in front of 1,000 dignitaries from around the world. The wedding had dominated the city’s life for weeks before, with lavish flower arrangements adorning the streets and Swedish furniture giant Ikea erecting a two-storey replica of the princess’ castle in the centre.
Crown Prince Pavlos and Marie-Chantal Miller
One of the most lavish ceremonies London has seen took place in July 1995 at St Sophia’s Cathedral in Bayswater, London, between the crown prince of Greece and an American heiress. The wedding, hosted by Marie-Chantal Miller’s father, billionaire Robert Warren Miller, reportedly cost £1 million and was attended by 1,400 prestigious guests, among them the late Queen Mother. No expense was spared, with the personal florist of the Danish royal family and six assistants flown in to decorate the cathedral with 30,000 pink flowers hung in garlands. The bride’s dress was made from pearl-encrusted ivory silk, with a 4.5-metre Chantilly lace train, and reportedly cost £150,000. Before the couple’s wedding, Marie-Chantal’s father provided her with a £200 million dowry.
Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III
You can bet it wasn’t cheap but then what do you expect when real royalty marries Hollywood ‘royalty’? And then they go and invite the entire adult population of Monaco to their celebration. After the prince and his filmstar bride’s civil ceremony, a lavish gala was held and all the Monegasque population could attend. In terms of wedding presents, Aristotle Onassis gave the happy couple a 147-foot yacht, while the people of Monaco gave them a cream and black Rolls-Royce convertible.
Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon
Going back through British history, one wedding stands out as having been a seriously lavish affair. That was in 1501 when Catherine of Aragon married Prince Arthur, son of King Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth, at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. While putting a cost on it is all but impossible this many years on, it’s safe to say that with the bride and groom dressed in robes made of gold cloth, and celebrations that lasted more than two weeks, this was not a cheap wedding. Historical journals say the accompanying celebrations included daily jousts, banquets, masked balls and nearly continuous dancing. When Arthur died, Catherine went on to marry his brother King Henry VIII.
Marie Antoinette and the future King Louis
The extravagant lifestyle of Marie Antoinette is legendary so it’s no surprise to discover that her wedding day was suitably lavish. She was still only a teenager when she walked down the aisle in an opulent gown decorated with diamonds and pearls in May 1770. A staggering six thousand guests attended the reception in the famous Hall of Mirrors at the grand Palace of Versailles. That was followed by a wedding ball that took place in the Opera theatre, which had been specially built for the royal wedding. As a wedding gift, her husband spared no expense in redesigning the Petit Trianon, a retreat built at the Palace of Versailles, for his new wife. Wedding planners say that Marie Antoinette’s famous love of all things opulent and indulgent means that the style of her wedding is still one of the most popular for brides today, who want to feel like a queen for a day.
John F Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier
They may not strictly be royalty but they’re arguably as close as you’ll get to it in American terms. And when JFK married a certain Jacqueline Lee Bouvier in September 1953, it was a suitably grand affair. The ceremony was performed in front of 800 notable guests by an archbishop, after a blessing from Pope Pius XII was read. The reception afterwards was held on a 300-acre seafront estate for more than 1,200 guests. The cake stood four feet tall and the bride wore an elaborate dress of ivory tissue silk and bouffant skirt with more than 50 yards of flounces.