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Outrageously Expensive Celebrity Weddings

Updated on September 9, 2011

Average American Wedding cost $27000

The average American wedding costs somewhere in the range of $27,000-$28,000. That may seem like a huge sum to most people, but is is nothing compared to the extravagant amount spent on celebrity weddings. These are the descriptions of some of the most outrageously expensive celebrity weddings, some of which cost upwards of $3 million!

Celebrity Weddings Cost One Million Dollars Up

Celebrity weddings are not like the weddings of average people. Everything is done on the grandest scale imaginable. Oh sure, some of the elements are the same, like the bridal gown and the flowers; the difference is that the dress might be a haute couture marvel costing over $100,000 (like the one worn by Melania Knauss when she married Donald Trump) and the flowers might number in the 50,000 range like they did at Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston's wedding. Despite wedding price tags from $1 million to over $3 million, remember that not everything is even included in that figure, like the wedding jewelry and the honeymoon. Melania Knauss's 15 carat emerald cut diamond engagement ring cost $1.5 million – that is $500,000 more than the total pricetag of her wedding.

Of course, when the rich and famous plan their weddings, they have considerations that are foreign to most engaged couples. Perhaps the biggest one is privacy and security. When golfer Tiger Woods married model Elin Nordegren in October of 2004, he guaranteed their privacy by renting not only the entire hotel on the exclusive Sandy Lane Resort in the Barbados, but he booked the only helicopter charter firm on the island for the duration of the wedding to make sure that the paparazzi could not spoil the day. Woods must have learned from the debacle of Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky's 1991 ceremony ($2 million), at which the helicopters buzzing overhead actually drowned out the couple's vows. Former Beatle Paul McCartney also ensured no gate crashers would spoil his 2002 wedding to Heather Mills by importing 100 private security guards to oversee the event at an Irish castle. Celebrities leave no stone unturned in their quest for privacy; Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones issued wedding invitations with a hologram that guests had to present for admission to their lavish wedding at the famed Plaza Hotel.

Brad Pitt - Jennifer Anniston

Expensive Weddings Don't Buy Happiness


Unfortunately, money does not buy happiness. Take a look at the beautifully designed $1 million "Zen Garden" theme wedding of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston in July of 2000. The lavishly decorated Malibu estate featured a display of over 50,000 flowers, including roses, wisteria, tulips, and lotus blossoms, candles imported from Thailand, and even a custom fountain (Brad's idea). The bride was resplendent in a streamlined sleeveless white silk gown embellished with hundreds of pearls by American designer Lawrence Steele (which Aniston was rumored to have burned after the couple's 2005 divorce) and Manolo Blahnik sandals. The groom looked equally dashing in his suit by Hedi Slimane. A large part of the budget for the Aniston-Pitt wedding went into the entertainment for the guests. There were four different bands, a full gospel choir, and a fireworks display to bring the festivities to a close. Alas, the marriage could not last, and shortly after their 2005 divorce, Brad Pitt was busy adopting children and starting a new life with Angelina Jolie, while Jennifer Aniston was alternatively pitied and reviled in the press.

Melania Knauss Makes Front Cover

Donald Trump - Melania Knauss

Another wedding in the $1 million range was the opulent January 2005 marriage of Donald Trump to Melania Knauss in Palm Beach. The most outstanding element of that affair would have to be the haute couture Christian Dior gown worn by Melania. Not since Princess Diana's wedding has a bridal gown received so much media coverage. The gown was even the subject of a spread in Vogue magazine. Featuring 300 feet of satin, 1500 crystals, and a thirteen foot train, the gown weighed in at an astonishing 50 pounds. The reputed cost of the fantasy Dior creation was $100,000 (at least), which sounds equally astonishing until you take into consideration that it also took 1000 hours to make; that is only $100/hour (or $2000/lb.), which is a veritable bargain by Trump standards. After the church ceremony, the new Mrs. Trump changed out of her Dior into a gown by Vera Wang. Her total wardrobe expenditures for the wedding were estimated to be in the neighborhood of $200,000. The reception took place at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate and boasted entertainment such as a 36 piece orchestra and a solo by Billy Joel. The guests feasted on the traditional foods of the high life: caviar, foie gras, and filet mignon, washed down with Cristal Champagne.

Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren

In the $1.5 million range were the weddings of Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren, as well that of Hollywood royalty Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. As was mentioned before, much of the cost of Wood's wedding was the expense of guaranteeing that the wedding would remain paparazzi-free (his efforts were successful, by the way). In addition to the location and security measures, the Woods-Nordegren wedding featured such elements as a ceremony pagoda covered in 10,000 roses, caviar, and a fireworks display. High profile guests such as Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley were treated to music provided by the band Hootie and the Blowfish.

            Elegance and glamor are the two words best suited to describe the lavish 2000 wedding of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Their star studded event took place at the Plaza Hotel in New York. Catherine Zeta-Jones looked exquisite, as always, in a Christian Lacroix gown created from antique Chantilly lace, which she wore with a tiara. The wedding, which has been described as royal in feeling, was decorated with a remarkable 20,000 cream colored roses in 28 different varieties. In honor of the bride's Welsh roots, a 40 member Welsh choir sang at the ceremony. The reception entertainment was provided by acts like Gladys Knight, Art Garfunkel, and Jimmy Buffett.


Tom Cruise - Katie Holmes Wedding Tops Two Million Dollars

One step more expensive was the November 2006 extravaganza that united "TomKat", Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, in wedded bliss. Costing around $2 million, the wedding was centered around three days of festivities in Italy. It was a unique mix of A-list celebrities and Katie's down-to-earth relatives, who reportedly all got along beautifully. The ceremony was held near Rome in the 15th Century Odescalchi Castle (celebrities love to get married in castles – as in Madonna, Elizabeth Hurley, and Paul McCartney). The couple exchanged platinum and diamond Cartier wedding bands during the Scientology wedding ceremony. The bride's gown was personally designed by Giorgio Armani of Valenciennes lace, and the groom wore Armani as well. Katie's second dress of the evening was also designed by the famed Italian fashion designer. Another touch of Italy in Cruise and Holmes's wedding was a performance by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. Other entertainment was the fireworks show at the end of the dinner reception, which was followed by a late night party designed to have a nightclub atmosphere.

Arun Nayar and Elizabeth Hurley Wedding Takes Two Continents

The three day festivities of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are easily topped by the eight day epic wedding of model/actress Elizabeth Hurley and Indian businessman Arun Nayar. Their March 2007 wedding cost $2.5 million dollars and took place on two continents. The event kicked off with a traditional English wedding in medieval Sudeley Castle. A convoy of Bentleys was provided to escort the celebrity guests, though Elton John (who gave the bride away) did not take advantage of his host's hospitality; he arrived  at the castle in his private purple helicopter. If the bride were not so gorgeous, he might have upstaged her! Hurley wore a bridal gown designed by her personal friend Donatella Versace and a diamond tiara. In addition to Elton John, she was escorted down the aisle by sixteen children clad in white.

            The English castle ceremony was only the start of the Hurley-Nayar wedding. From there it was on to India and several other events. There was a grand party in Mumbai (the groom's hometown), to which Hurley wore a custom red satin gown by Dolce and Gabana. An all-day cricket match was also on the calendar for the wedding week. The grand finale was a Hindu marriage ceremony at the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jaipur, India (that is two palaces in one celebrity wedding, in case you are keeping count). Suites overlooking the ancient palace go for over $10,000 night, which surely contributed to the $2.5 million bill for the wedding.


Paul McCartney _ Heather Mills Wedding Over Three Million Dollars

Coming in at an astonishing $3.2 million was the June 2002 wedding of Paul McCartney and Heather Mills. The extravagant affair took place in County Monaghan, Ireland. The ceremony was held in St. Salvador's Church, followed by a reception at Castle Leslie for 300 guests. The bride wore a long sleeve ecru lace gown, which was not designed by Paul McCartney's fashion designer daughter Stella. This fact only added fuel to the fire of speculation that McCartney's adult children did not support his marriage to Mills, coming as it did only four years after the death of his long time wife Linda from breast cancer. The couple admitted that the frosty relations between Mills and her groom's family were not helped by the fact that she was 25 years his junior.

            Despite the family drama, the couple planned a lavish wedding with an Indian inspired design. Traditional Indian dancers enthralled the guests at the vegetarian reception under a lakeside tent. Nearly everything for the wedding was brought in from someplace else, no doubt contributing to the impressive pricetag. Not only did McCartney bring in 100 private security guards, but for a solid week before the wedding, tractor trailers carted in everything from sound equipment to lighting to thousands of Dutch flowers. The wedding cake was created in England and transported to Ireland; even the bride's  favorite hair and makeup artists made the trip from England. McCartney and Mills also imported a band for their wedding – all the way from New Jersey! Another enormous transportation cost was the wedding guests. The bride and groom arranged for a pair of private planes to fly guests from London to Belfast, where a team of fourteen buses and vans took them the rest of the way to the castle. The evening was capped off with the usual fireworks.

            Even a $3.2 million wedding with two rainbows (thought to be a good omen at the time) is no guarantee of eternal happiness. Within four years of their extravagant nuptials, McCartney and Mills were at each other's throats, with their bitter divorce proceedings closely followed in the British and international press. After nearly two ugly years of fighting, the doomed marriage was finally dissolved in early 2008, when Heather received a $48.6 million settlement from Paul.


Liza Minelli and David Guest Most Expensive

Would spending even more money on a celebrity wedding ensure wedded bliss? Apparently not, if one looks at the outrageously expensive wedding of Liza Minnelli and David Gest in March of 2002. Coming in at a whopping $3.5 million, their wedding is the most expensive celebrity wedding to date. (It does not even come close to wearing the crown of the most expensive wedding ever, though, an honor which belongs to the 2004 wedding of Vanisha Mittal, the daughter of an Indian steel mogul, which cost $60 million.) The Minnelli-Gest circus, ahem, wedding, may well also hold the title as one of the most ridiculed celebrity weddings and marriages of all time.

            Approximately 500 of the invited 850 guests made their way to Manhattan's Marble Collegiate Church where the thrice-married Minnelli exchanged her vows with the never-before-wed Gest (cruel snickering about Gest's status as a perpetual bachelor was a running theme around the time of the wedding). The gaudy spectacle featured a world famous wedding party, guests, and performers. Unlike some of the other celebrities, Minnelli made no effort to keep the paparazzi at bay from her grand affair. At what other wedding was Michael Jackson the best man and Elizabeth Taylor the matron of honor? It is said that the entire event was organized to be a show, much more than it ever was a solemn wedding. In keeping with the Hollywood feeling, the bride wore an ivory gown by costume designer Bob Mackie, who is best known for his extravagantly beaded creations for the stars of the nighttime soaps like Dynasty in the glitzy 1980s.

            The newlyweds sealed their union with a big wet kiss, which was followed by a reception in the Regent Wall Street Hotel. The bride changed into another Bob Mackie creation, this time a red minidress. The entertainment was provided by a 60 piece orchestra, which accompanied the legendary singer Tony Bennett. Other performers included the Doobie Brothers, Gloria Gaynor, Donny Osmond, Andy Williams, and Mya. The singer Mya, who Gest knew through his career as a music producer, was also one of Minnelli's bridesmaids, despite the fact that the two women had only met twice before the wedding day. Dessert was a twelve tier wedding cake, and the favors were cookies decorated with a portrait of the happy couple. The marriage was over less than a year and a half later. 

 Celebrities are really not like the average person, especially when it comes to their weddings. Their weddings are over the top in every way, except perhaps when it comes to making a lasting commitment to the marriage. While Liza Minnelli and David Gest's wedding was the most extravagant so far, it is only a matter of time before another celebrity bride and groom comes along to claim the title of the most outrageously expensive celebrity wedding of all time.


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