Royal weddings may be the stuff of fairytales, but they don’t come cheap. Yes, because of all that grandeur and pomp – not to mention the huge guest lists – getting spliced to a prince, a princess or a king is costly enough to make Cinderella weep. Don’t believe us? Well, here’s a look at 20 of the most expensive royal weddings in recent memory. And you may be surprised to learn the couple sitting pretty at the top of the list.
20. King Letsie III and Anna Karabo Motšoeneng – $1.5 million
King Letsie III and Anna Karabo Motšoeneng certainly weren’t short of guests when they tied the knot in 2000. The couple exchanged their vows at Lesotho’s national soccer stadium in front of an incredible 40,000 well-wishers! And, unsurprisingly, the celebrations set the newlyweds back a lot – somewhere in the region of $1.5 million.
Why were there so many people in attendance? Well, the folks in Lesotho had never seen anything like it before. Motšoeneng, who actually hails from South Africa, was the first-ever commoner to tie the knot with a member of the Lesotho royal family. The bride was rechristened Queen ’Masenate Mohato Seeiso following the joyous occasion.
19. Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling – $2 million
You probably wouldn’t expect the owner of a gym to suddenly become part of a royal family. But that’s exactly what happened in 2010 when Daniel Westling got hitched to Princess Victoria of Sweden. The pair said “I do” in front of more than 1,200 guests at Stockholm Cathedral, and the whole shebang cost $2 million.
The bride ensured she had “something borrowed” for the big occasion by wearing the exact same crown that her mom had on her own wedding day. The “something new”? That was the custom-made off-the-shoulder dress designed by Pär Engsheden. And after exchanging vows, the happy couple enjoyed a horse-drawn carriage ride through Stockholm on their way to their reception.
18. Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank – $3.7 million
Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi’s 2020 wedding was actually paid for privately. Beatrice’s sister, Eugenie, on the other hand? She seemingly showed no qualms about using taxpayers’ money to fund her own nuptials in 2018. But to be fair, Eugenie spent far less on her ceremony with Jack Brooksbank than most of her family members have done when tying the knot.
The big day was still pretty expensive, mind you. Eugenie had approximately $3.7 million to put toward all the food, flowers, entertainment and security for the occasion. One of the biggest expenses was the dress the bride wore for the ceremony at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel. According to Harper’s Bazaar, the gown set the princess back a whopping $135,000.
17. Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah Bolkiah of Brunei and Sarah Salleh – $4 million
The only surprise with Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah Bolkiah of Brunei and Sarah Salleh’s 2004 wedding is that it didn’t cost more. Of course, $4 million is still the kind of figure that most newlyweds can only dream about having at their disposal. But it’s relatively modest considering that the groom is a member of one of the richest families on Earth.
Still, they certainly seemed to get plenty of bang for their buck. The heir to the Brunei throne enjoyed a cruise through the streets of its capital city in a gold Rolls Royce, with an incredible 103 limos following behind. And the pair became husband and wife at the Nurul Iman Palace in front of some of the world’s most important figures.
16. Lady Charlotte Wellesley and Alejandro Santo Domingo – $6 million
As the daughter of the Duke of Wellington, Lady Charlotte Wellesley was never going to be short of a cent or two. But it was only when she walked down the aisle that the royal joined Britain’s super-rich club. For her groom was none other than billionaire financier Alejandro Santo Domingo.
You won’t be surprised to learn that the wealthy couple didn’t opt for a modest affair. They exchanged their vows amid the regal and historical splendor of Granada’s World Heritage site, the Alhambra Palace. Wellesley also spent a significant amount of their $6 million budget on her Emilia Wickham-designed off-the-shoulder gown, complete with polka-dotted veil.
15. Prince Rashid of Jordan and Zeina Shaban – $6 million
Table tennis player Zeina Shaban may earn a living playing one of the world’s most compact sports. But there was nothing small about her wedding to Prince Rashid of Jordan in 2011. In fact, more than 2,000 people attended the ceremony at the Basman Palace, which reportedly cost a whopping $6 million.
And the guest list was just as impressive as the venue. Queen Sofia of Spain, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Bahrain’s King Hama Ben Issa Al Khalifa were just a handful of other royals from across the globe who flew in for the occasion. There was even a representative from the most famous royal family of them all, the Duke of Edinburgh.
14. Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark and Tatiana Blatnik – $6 million
Tatiana Blatnik ended up giving a little-known designer their big break when she got married to Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark in 2010. The bride could no doubt have gone for any established name she wanted for the $6 million ceremony. But instead she chose a relative newcomer in a bid to stay true to her roots.
Yes, although her mother and father are Slovenian, Blatnik herself was born in South America, specifically Venezuela. And to pay homage to the country in which she was raised, the bride decided to task fellow Venezuelan Angel Sanchez with making her gown. The designer subsequently became a major name following his role in the royal wedding.
13. Prince Pavlos of Greece and Marie-Chantal Miller – $8 million
Marie-Chantal Miller may have walked down the aisle in 1995 with Prince Pavlos of Greece. But it was in London that the pair became husband and wife. The couple got hitched at the capital’s St. Sophia’s Cathedral before moving on to Hampton Court Palace for their reception at a total cost of $11 million. And Miller’s dress was one of the biggest expenses.
Decorated with real pearls, the bride’s Valentino-designed dress reportedly took more than 16 weeks of work from more than two dozen seamstresses. Little surprise, then, that it set the pair back roughly a quarter of a million dollars. The happy couple also spent a small fortune on a Champagne reception staged before the big day. In fact, they flew in no fewer than 100,000 flowers from South America for this event alone.
12. King Mohammed VI of Morocco and Salma Bennani – $11 million
It seems as though King Mohammed VI of Morocco couldn’t have been prouder to call Salma Bennani his wife. The royal spent $11 million on their wedding celebrations, which lasted an entire seven days. And he broke various protocols to let everyone know exactly to whom he was getting married.
You see, the wives of Moroccan royals are usually forced to keep their identities a secret. Not in this case. As well as revealing Bennani’s full name to the public, the king also allowed them to see photos of the big day. This marriage was all the more unusual for the fact that his bride was a commoner.
11. King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Jetsun Pema – $17 million
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Jetsun Pema made sure that the entire nation of Bhutan could join in with their wedding celebrations in 2011. The public were given three full days off work to commemorate the occasion. And the newlyweds even fed all their well-wishers with a traditional buffet lunch.
The newlyweds also walked down the aisle in style at the centuries-old fortress owned by the king. While the bride dazzled with an embroidered sash and a traditional skirt, the groom sported a red raven crown as he climbed down off his throne to greet the woman who’d captured his heart. You won’t be surprised to discover the event cost somewhere in the region of $17 million.
10. Princess Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah and Pengiran Haji Muhammad Ruzaini – $20 million
Little expense was spared when Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah tied the knot in 2012 with Pengiran Haji Muhammad Ruzaini. The Sultan of Brunei’s daughter and the civil servant spent approximately $20 million on their elaborate wedding. And that’s despite the fact they saved money by staging it at the father of the bride’s home.
That’s right: the couple got hitched at one of the Sultan’s palaces which boasts no fewer than 1,700 rooms. With a guestlist of 3,000, they no doubt needed of all this accommodation, too. As you’d expect, there were plenty of crystals on show. Bolkiah sported a silver-and-beige dress emblazoned with them, and they even featured in the flower arrangements.
9. Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson – $25 million
Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson kept things in the family when they tied the knot in 2004. The former’s sibling Prince Joachim was chosen as best man, while the latter’s sisters Patricia Bailey and Jane Stephens served as bridesmaids alongside pal Amber Petty. But as you can tell, the whole thing cost a small fortune. Okay, a large fortune.
In fact according to reports, the ceremony at the Copenhagen Cathedral and the extravagant reception afterward cost roughly $25 million. The bride did save a little by sporting a veil that had been handed down from Crown Princess Margareta of Sweden. But the dress made by Uffe Frank, one of Denmark’s most in-demand fashion designers, is unlikely to have come cheap.
8. Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz – $25 million
Having previously forged a career in journalism, Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano then found herself on the front pages herself in 2004. The former reporter grabbed the headlines when she got hitched to Spanish Crown Prince Felipe at Madrid’s María la Real de La Almudena Cathedral. And 25 million Spaniards watched her walk down the aisle on television, too.
Ortiz certainly made sure all eyes were on the bride thanks to a gold-accented dress designed by Spaniard Manuel Pertegaz. Over 1,500 guests were also invited to the ceremony where they washed down more than 1,000 bottles of bubbly and indulged in a wedding cake that sat 2 metres high! No surprise, then, that the whole celebration came in at an estimated $25 million.
7. Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Grace Kelly – (Unspecified)
The exact cost of Prince Rainier III of Monaco’s glitzy marriage to Grace Kelly in 1956 isn’t publicly known. But it’s said to be in the region of tens of millions of dollars. That makes sense, considering that the coming-together of royalty and Hollywood was witnessed by 600 guests.
Those in attendance could enjoy a piece of a six-tier wedding cake made in the shape of Monaco’s famous pink palace. Actress Kelly also went big with her dress designed from a combined total of 125 yards of silk and taffeta and rumored to have cost roughly $100,000 when taking inflation into account. The Oscar-winner also had to spend $1 million of her own cash on a dowry just for the honor of marrying the prince.
6. Prince Abdul Malik and Dayangku Raabi’atul ‘Adawiyyah Pengiran Haji Bolkiah – $30 million
Prince Abdul Malik has two siblings on this list, Princess Hajah Hafizah and Prince Al Muhtadee Billah. But he spent more on his wedding than his brother and sister put together. That’s right: while the former forked out $20 million and the latter a relatively paltry $4 million, Malik and Dayangku Raabi’atul ‘Adawiyyah Pengiran Haji Bolkiah’s marriage cost a cool $30 million.
The newlyweds certainly looked the part when they said “I do,” with both sporting complementary diamond-studded gold outfits. And the bride walked down the aisle with a very special bouquet of flowers that weren’t really flowers at all, but gems. The higher cost is also explained by the fact that celebrations went on for ten days!
5. Prince William and Kate Middleton – $42 million
So it turns out that the future King and Queen of England didn’t spend as much on their royal wedding as you may think. Of course, $42 million is still a colossal amount compared to the average newlyweds. But it’s far less than both Prince William’s mother and brother forked out for their nuptials.
Kate’s Alexander McQueen dress was one of the costliest aspects of the whole shebang at Westminster Abbey in 2011. More than half a million dollars was spent on the gown complete with a train that stretched to 9 feet. And the flowers, reception and security team didn’t come particularly cheap, either.
4. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – $45 million
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s 2018 wedding looked more like an Oscars afterparty than a royal wedding. Everyone from George Clooney to Sir Elton John showed up at St. George’s Chapel to watch the controversial pair say “I do.” But would things have been as lavish had Harry and Meghan made the decision to become financially independent much earlier?
After all, their A-list ceremony set British taxpayers back roughly $45 million! The vast amount of security officials required to protect the happy couple and the rest of their rich and famous guests cost a fair whack, obviously. And so did the bride’s dress. In fact, Meghan walked down the aisle in a Givenchy gown that reportedly cost more than half a million dollars!
3. Prince Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock – $70 million
So Kate and Wills weren’t the only royal couple to get married in 2011. Prince Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock, a one-time Olympic swimmer, also tied the knot that same year in an even more lavish ceremony. In fact, their nuptials at Monaco’s royal palace cost roughly $30 million more than that of their British counterparts.
Wittstock certainly didn’t hold back when it came to her wedding gown. Designed by Giorgio Armani, her silk dress was adorned with no fewer than 40,000 Swarovski crystals! Little expense was spared when it came to the reception dinner, either. This was prepared by Alain Ducasse, one of the country’s top Michelin-starred cooks.
2. Prince Charles and Princess Diana – $80 million
Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s 1981 nuptials remains one of the most-watched TV events of all time. A staggering 750 million viewers tuned in to see what was hailed by many as “the wedding of the century.” As you’d expect, with so many eyes on the briefly happy couple, every whim was catered for. In fact, the ceremony reportedly cost $80 million!
So where exactly did all this money go? Well, approximately $700,000 went on the security team alone. And Diana walked down the aisle of St. Paul’s Cathedral in a dress that cost roughly $15,000 to make. The day itself may have looked like the kind of happy-ever-after that many girls dream about. Of course, as we all know, the actual marriage turned out to be anything but.
1. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi and Princess Salama – $100 million
But all other extravagant royal weddings look like no-frills town-hall affairs compared to the Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s wedding in 1981. In fact, according to CBS, his nuptials with Princess Salama remain the costliest in modern royal history. So how did the couple manage to spend a nine-figure sum in one go?
Well, that number certainly makes more sense when you learn that the whole occasion lasted for an entire week! Yes, the Sheikh and the Princess certainly made the most of their union. The former even arranged for a new stadium seating 20,000 spectators to be built solely for the celebration.