10 of the greatest royal weddings in history

When a member of a royal family marries, they go to great lengths to make their marriage memorable, while the “commoners” try to glimpse the extravagance. Known for exquisite family heirlooms adorned by brides, enhanced titles, lavish ceremonies and post-bridal parties for distinguished guests, royal weddings are spectacular and combine elegance and opulence.

However, there is more to planning and executing such a lavish event than just the celebration. It also involves administering broader issues such as family privacy, crowd and media management, catering to prominent figures and ensuring everything runs smoothly.

To add to the grandeur of the events, there are bespoke designer wedding dresses and suits, as well as cakes made by world-famous chefs that become the talk of the town.

To reminisce about the most expensive royal weddings of all time, we’ve listed some interesting details from these occasions around the world. From the King and Queen of Spain to Princess Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah and Pengiran Haji Muhammad Ruzaini of Brunei, find out if your favorite royal wedding is on the list.

Here’s a look back at ten of the most expensive royal weddings of all time

Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, Spain

Image credit: Christophe Simon/Pool/AFP

The current King and Queen of Spain got married in 2004 at Santa María la Real de La Almudena Cathedral in Madrid. The royal groom tied the knot with journalist Letizia Ortiz in the presence of 1,200 guests.

The bride donned a beautiful Manuel Pertegaz dress, embroidered with gold details, and had a 4.27 meter train, and a 2.13 meter high cake and 1,000 bottles of champagne were served to guests at the reception of marriage.

Estimated at around $25-30 million, the Spanish royal wedding ceremony was televised and garnered 25 million views in Spain alone.

Prince William and Kate Middleton, United Kingdom

Image credit: Robbie Dale/ CC-BY-SA-2.0/ Wikimedia Commons

The iconic wedding of this royal couple took place in 2011 at Westminster Abbey. The whole wedding cost the Crown around $34 million, of which $32 million was earmarked for security.

Kate wore a beautiful handmade Alexander McQueen lace dress, which had a 2.7 meter long train. While at least three million people watched the televised nuptials broadcast around the world, nearly 1,900 guests attended the royal union at the venue. A wedding reception was held at Buckingham Palace after the service.

Some celebrities who made it to the wedding were Victoria and David Beckham, Sir Elton John and David Furnish. Besides Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, other prominent members of the royal family present at the ceremony included Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice.

Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly, Monaco

Image credit: AFP

To the list of the most expensive marriages is added the marriage of Prince Rainier III with the American actress. The couple exchanged vows at St. Nicholas Cathedral in 1956.

Their lavish two-day wedding included religious and civil ceremonies attended by 600 guests. Some guests who were part of their religious celebrations were Cary Grant, Ava Gardner and Aristotle Onassis.

Designed by Helen Rose, the bride’s dress was the highlight of their ceremony and featured a high neckline, multiple petticoats and antique pearls. Meanwhile, the six-tiered wedding cake represented the country’s pink palace and was made of sugar.

Although the cost of the wedding is unknown, it has been estimated in the millions.

Princess Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah and Pengiran Haji Muhammad Ruzaini, Brunei

Image credit: STR/AFP

The royal bride, who is the daughter of the Sultan of Brunei, married her non-royal husband in 2012. Their elaborate wedding ceremony took place at her father’s 1,700-room palace on the island of Borneo, followed by week-long wedding festivities. Nearly $20 million was spent on the royal ceremony.

They had invited 3,000 people to their big day, and the guest list included Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Philippine President Benigno Aquino and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. A state banquet was later held to which former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and other foreign dignitaries were invited.

Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, United Kingdom

Charles and Diana
Image credit: SWIMMING POOL / AFP

One of the most renowned royal wedding ceremonies, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer were married at St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1981. At an approximate cost of $70-100 million, it turned out to be the wedding most expensive British royal ever. . Along with the attire, decorations, and heightened security, the fact that guests could choose from 27 cakes stayed in the news for days.

The televised ceremony was seen by 750 million people, while 3,500 people attended the wedding at Westminster Abbey and 600,000 took to the streets of London to catch a glimpse of the royal couple.

Princess Diana wore an ivory taffeta dress embroidered with sequins, ruffled lace and 10,000 pearls. Estimated at $127,000 at the time, the dress was designed by husband and wife duo, David and Elizabeth Emanuel.

Prince Albert II and Charlene Wittstock, Monaco

Image credit: Miguel Medina/AFP

Prince Albert II married Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock in 2011. They had a Catholic wedding ceremony in the courtyard of the medieval palace in Monaco.

The bride wore an off-white Armani dress, studded with 40,000 Swarovski crystals and 20,000 mother-of-pearl tears.

Their lavish three-day wedding cost around $70 million. Of the 450 people who attended the royal nuptials, prominent guests included fashion designers Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani and British model Naomi Campbell.

American rock band Eagles have been roped in to perform at a free concert ahead of the wedding.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, United Kingdom

harry and meghan
Image Credit: Royal.uk

The wedding took place at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor in 2018. While the maximum budget was allocated for security, the entire star-studded affair cost between $40 million and $42 million. Other expenses incurred by the royal family included church service, music, decorations, flowers and reception.

The couple exchanged their vows in the presence of 600 guests in the Chapel. However, around 2,000 people celebrated the union outside Windsor Castle.

Meghan looked stunning in a Givenchy wedding dress, which had an embroidered veil almost five meters long with national flowers representing the 53 Commonwealth countries.

Oprah Winfrey, Sir Elton John, the Beckhams and George and Amal Clooney were among the celebrities invited to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding.

Crown Prince Pavlos and Marie-Chantal Miller, Greece

Image credit: Andrew Winning / AFP

This royal wedding took place in 1995 at St. Sophia’s Cathedral in London, with a reception at Hampton Court Palace. The Crown has shelled out $8million for the temple-themed royal wedding and other festivities.

The gorgeous bride wore an ivory silk Valentino gown studded with pearls and featuring a four-yard Chantilly lace train.

While a champagne reception was held for 1,200 guests, the venue was adorned with 100,000 flowers from Ecuador.

The wedding had the largest gathering of royalty in London since Queen Elizabeth married Prince Philip in 1947.

Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling, Sweden

expensive royal wedding
Image credit: Bengt Nyman/CC-BY-2.0/Wikimedia Commons

This royal union took place at Storkyrkan Cathedral in Stockholm, Sweden in 2010. It was the same venue where the wedding of the Princess’s parents, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, took place there. 34 years old.

Crown Princess Victoria wore a pearl white wedding dress, which had a detachable five-metre train. It was designed by Pär Engsheden from Sweden.

The wedding celebrations lasted nine days and cost around $2.63 million. It was televised and watched by almost 5 million people. At least 200,000 people came to the city to celebrate the wedding. There were 1,200 attendees at this royal wedding.

The Swedish Bakers and Confectioners Association prepared an 11-tier organic cake for the occasion and featured four-leaf clover designs and chocolate wafers on each tier.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Princess Salama, Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Image credit: Adem Altan / AFP

The royal couple carved their name into the Guinness Book of World Records by hosting the most expensive wedding of the modern era. They married in 1981 in a stadium built to accommodate their 20,000 guests.

The wedding celebrations lasted a week. Although very few photos from the event have been released, the royals are said to have splashed around $100 million on their grand wedding.

According to a Forbes report, wedding gifts for the princess were delivered by 20 jeweled camels during the ceremony.

(Hero and featured image credit: STR/AFP)

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