Weddings aren’t cheap. The average American wedding costs about $30,000. What if you could afford to spend that much (or more) on your wedding dress alone? Or spend $1.5 million just on wine for your reception? For some, money is no object. They can, and will, spend upwards of millions of dollars to show their love for their betrothed to the entire world. Below are some of the most expensive weddings ever recorded. Some of these became more costly, as they didn’t survive very far past the nuptials, ending in divorce just a short time later. In those cases, the wedding ended up costing at least one party much more than the stated price tag.
1. Vanisha Mittal and Amit Bhatia
November 18, 2006
Cost: $78 million
The record-holder for the world’s most expensive wedding to date is the nuptials of Vanisha Mittal (daughter of billionaire Lakshmi Mittal) and investment banker Amit Bhatia. This wedding took place at Vaux le Vicomte, a 17th-century chateau in France, in 2004. The elaborate, outrageous wedding has been honored by Forbes’ Magazine as one of the most expensive weddings, and currently ranks in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most expensive wedding ever recorded, with $78 million spent. The wedding went on for five days, and included extravagances such as invitations sent out in a 20 page silver book, 100 different dishes prepared by a top Calcutta chef, a wine tab of $1.5 million, and 1000 guests on hand to witness the world’s most expensive wedding ceremony ever.
2. Aleksandra Kokotovic and Andrei Melnichenko
September 3, 2005
Cost: $30 million
Russian billionaire and founder of MDM Bank Andrei Melnichenko tied the knot with former Miss Yugoslavia and Serbian model Aleksandra Kokotovich in 2005 at Cote D’Azur, France, to the tune of $30 million. Rather than having a church soloist or your cousin Debbie sing at the wedding, this ceremony included performances by Christina Aguilera and Whitney Houston, both of whom were flown in on private jets and given an estimated $3.6 million each to perform.
3. Vikram Chatwal and Priya Sachdev
February 18, 2006
Cost: $20 million
The son of a New York hotelier, Vikram Chatwal married model/actress Priya Sachdev in February 2006 during a 10-day celebration spread across three Indian cities (Mumbai, Udaipur, and Delhi), costing an estimated $20 million. Six hundred guests from 26 countries attended the nuptials, and were flown in on private chartered jets. Guests included Bill Clinton, Naomi Campbell, and P. Diddy. Makes your own guest list of 150 seem tiny in comparison, doesn’t it?
4. Wayne Rooney and Colleen McLaughlin
June 12, 2008
Cost: $15 million
The wedding of television presenter/product endorser Colleen McLaughlin and Manchester United/England football star Wayne Rooney took place in Portofino, Italy on June 12, 2008. Although their wedding was quite expensive, at £10 million, the couple was reportedly able to recoup £5 million of that amount through a deal with Britain’s OK! Magazine, allowing them to publish exclusive wedding information and pictures. The festivities turned into a four-day celebration on a yacht, with 64 guests flown in on five private jets. What’s really odd about this wedding is that the couple had a simple civil ceremony and served pizza at the reception…but all the accoutrements (like the dress, designed by Georgia Chapman’s Marchesa label which cost a reported £3 million itself) added up.
5. Delphine Arnault and Alessandro Vallarino Gancia
September 24, 2005
Cost: Over $7 million
Delphine Arnault, the daughter of French businessman Bernard Arnault, married Alessandro Vallarino Gancia, of the Gancia wine dynasty, in 2005 at the Cote d’Azur, France. This affair is said to have cost over $7 million. Her gown wasn’t bought off the rack at David’s Bridal – it was created by famed fashion designer John Galliano. The wedding venue was decorated with 5000 white roses. (Imagine the expense of that alone!) Famous wedding guests included Elizabeth Hurley and Karl Lagerfeld. Harper’s Bazaar called this spectacular wedding 2005’s “Wedding of the Year.”
6. Liza Minelli and David Gest
March 16, 2002
Cost: $3.5 million
In one of the most flamboyant and strangest wedding ceremonies of recent memory, David Gest married Liza Minelli on March 16, 2002 at Manhattan’s Collegiate Church, to the tune of $3.5 million. Over 850 guests attended, including Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, and Natalie Cole (who sang “Unforgettable”). The 6 foot tall, 12 tier cakes was spectacular, at a cost of $40,000. More than $700,000 was spent on flowers alone. Sadly, the wedding didn’t last more than a year, as this odd (but strangely enough, similar-looking) couple divorced in 2003.
7. Paul McCartney and Heather Mills
June 11, 2002
Cost: $3 million
Former Beatle Paul McCartney spent $3 million to say “Love me do” to Heather Mills in 2002 in Glaslough, Ireland. Three hundred guests witnessed the ceremony, which included fireworks, a pageant, and a grand feast. Traditional Indian dancers performed for the couple, who spent their wedding night on a $20 million yacht. Unfortunately, all of this extravagance didn’t carry over into the marriage, which ended in 2008. The wedding ended up being “A Hard Day’s Night” for McCartney, who shelled out that much and still had to pay Mills a whopping $50 million in the divorce.
8. Elizabeth Hurley and Arun Nayar
March 2, 2007
Cost: $2.5 million
Actress and model Elizabeth Hurley wed Indian textile heir Arun Nayar in 2007 in a $2.5 million, eight-day celebration spanning Europe and Asia. The couple was married in Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire, Britain for Hurley’s family and friends, then again in Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur, India for Nayar’s people. Elton John gave Hurley away. Other guests at these lavish ceremonies included Elle Macpherson, Donatella Versace, and Evelyn Lauder. Guess Hurley put some of that Estee Lauder money to good use! Think Hugh Grant would have shelled out that much to marry her?
9. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes
November 18, 2006
Cost: $2 million
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ 2006 wedding at Italy’s 15th-century Odescalchi Castle was another spectacle of extravagance, to the tune of $2 million. The bridal party attire was designed by Giorgio Armani. Andrea Boccelli performed at the ceremony. And getting married at a castle, for God’s sake – makes your own fire hall reception seem a bit drab, doesn’t it? The TomKat wedding ranks on Forbes’ list of the most expensive, lavish weddings of any celebrity (or of anyone, for that matter).
10. Donald Trump and Melania Knauss
January 22, 2005
Cost: $1 million
Although it costs just a measly million dollars, the Palm Beach wedding of Donald Trump and Melania Knauss in 2005 was quite an opulent affair. The Grand Mariner cake weighed 200 lbs (!); and the bride’s Dior dress cost $200,000 with a 13-foot train, 1500 rhinestones and pearls, and weighing 60 lbs. Performances by Tony Bennett and Billy Joel entertained the guests, consisting of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Shaquille O’Neal and Rudy Giulaini. So far, this one has lasted, not costing the Donald more in the long run like many of his prior marriages.