When it comes to spending money, most couples put aside a significant amount for their wedding day, which is understandable as it is usually a once in a lifetime occasion. Some couples are even more extravagant, and with no holds barred, the world has seen its fair share of jaw-droppingly pricey weddings.
From actors to singers to royalty, many of high society’s finest have pulled out all the stops when it comes to their wedding budget, ensuring that their special day was absolutely unforgettable. Without further ado, here are the five most expensive weddings of all time:
1. The Ottoman Empire
As with all historical weddings, the cost of the ceremonies in centuries past are vague with few measurable references in documentation, however imperial Ottoman weddings were known for their opulence and grandeur. If the thought of a several day long wedding sounds indulgent, the sultans of the Ottoman Empire and their sons and daughters beat this considerably, as weddings often took place over several weeks.
One such wedding which has been recorded was the marriage of Hatice Sultan to Muhaship Mustafa Pasa in the 17th Century. The wedding lasted two and a half weeks, and included many parades and ceremonies. Contests between athletes and wrestlers, singing and dancing, firework displays, and an array of shows and theatre performances took place during the 18-day event.
This particular wedding saw an incredible display of artificial trees in varying sizes with silver leaves. The largest tree was up to five metres wide, and as it was pulled across the city by 200 slaves in an astonishing procession, anything in its path, including houses, was simply demolished.
With thousands of gifts for the bride including diamonds, jewels, food, furnishings, and many more, the wedding was unlike anything the modern world has seen before.
2. A French alliance
Although it’s hard to quantify in today’s money, it’s thought that the wedding between Margaret of York and Charles the Bold of Burgundy, France in 1468 cost in the region of the equivalent of £200m.
Margaret was no mere commoner, as she was the sister of Edward IV and Richard III, both of whom became King of England. Her French husband Charles was a duke who had been married twice previously. He chose Margaret for his third wife despite having been offered the hand of the French King Louis XI’s daughter, Anne, which he declined, opting instead to ally his region of Burgundy with England.
According to historical records, the extravagant wedding took place in neither France nor England, but rather Bruges in Belgium, where Charles was made a Knight of the Garter, which was the most senior order of knighthood in the British honours system.
It’s thought that the huge celebration was an affair lasting several days, and consisted of traditional medieval festivities such as jousting, feasting, and performances. The bride was transported in a white horse drawn golden litter, and she wore a beautiful gown trimmed with ermine. A bespoke crown decorated with pearls and diamonds was made for her wedding day.
3. Modern royalty
Definitely not in the same league as an Ottoman wedding, but the wedding of Princess Diana and Princes Charles in 1981 was undeniably the grandest royal wedding of 20th Century, televised and watched by approximately 750 million viewers. The sheer scale of the wedding was so vast that as many as 3,500 guests attended the ceremony at Saint Paul’s Cathedral.
At the time, the wedding cost in the region of $48m (£37m), therefore not making it into the Guinness Book of Records, but adjusted for inflation it means that the wedding’s expense was more equivalent to $110m (£84.7m).
An elaborate 10,000 pearls covered Diana’s dress, and the couple opted for not just one but 27 wedding cakes.
4. Guinness World Record holder
According to Guinness World Records, the most expensive wedding ever officially recorded took place in Versailles, France in 2004, and racked up an eye-watering $55m (£42.4m) price tag. The happy bride and groom were Vanisha Mittal and Amit Bhatia. Vanisha’s father is the Indian billionaire steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal who was, at the time, the third richest person in the world, making him well suited to pick up the bill for his only daughter’s big day.
The lavish wedding lasted for six days, and included an engagement ceremony re-enactment in the Palace of Versailles itself, a firework display and concert by Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue at the Eiffel tower, and a ceremony in the Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte, which was once owned by King Louis XIV’s superintendent of finances, Nicolas Fouquet.
No fewer than 1,000 guests were in attendance at Vanisha and Amit’s wedding of the century, each flown from India to Paris on 12 jets, and accommodated in the five-star Hotel le Grand Intercontinental at the cost of $2m (£1.5m).
5. A Spanish alliance
Catherine of Aragon is best known for being the first wife of the infamous Henry VIII, but prior to her marriage to the British monarch, Spanish born Catherine was wed to the first prince of the Tudor royal family, Arthur, Henry’s elder brother, in 1501.
The wedding was an extremely lavish event, one of the most magnificent weddings of the medieval era, and even by modern standards would have been considered extravagant. The bride and groom wore expensive white satin outfits, and a full seven days of jousting and tournaments were among the highlights of the celebrations. A children’s choir singing at Baynard’s castle entertained the couple following their ceremony and vow exchange.
The ceremony itself was officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, Henry Deane, and took place at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. A fountain of wine was erected outside, adjacent to the cathedral.
At the time, the wedding was unusual in that it was a very openly public affair. Previously, royal weddings had largely been held in private, and monarchs tended to be very secretive about their nuptial events, but this particular ceremony was deliberately grandiose with much publicity in an attempt to show the newly formed alliance between England and Spain.
With celebrity budgets for weddings growing in scale, it will be interesting to see who will break the world record in future years for the most expensive wedding of all time.