Most Lavish Royal Weddings in History

May 14, 2019 by Steven M. Peters

Most people never hope to have $42 million, much less spend that amount on a single day event, but for royal families across the world, expensive weddings are the norm. While the average wedding in the United States costs about $34,000, it’s not unusual for monarchs to spend one hundred times that amount on their own weddings and the weddings of their children.

Aside from gourmet food for hundreds or thousands of guests, marquees for outdoor celebrations, flowers, music, massive layer cakes, and wedding favors, some of the highest wedding costs that royal families expend are for designer dresses, diamond tiaras, and in recent British royal weddings, security.

As the one year anniversary of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s $42 million wedding approaches, 24/7 Wall St. has combed through news articles to find the most lavish royal weddings in history, some of them also the largest royal weddings based on attendance.

These events are selected from a variety of countries, but some extravagant weddings may not be included, especially if there are already two weddings from the same royal family and generation listed.

Click here to read about the most lavish royal weddings in history.

Source: Michaelsanders / Wikimedia Commons / PD-US-expired, Rogier van der Weyden / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

1. Margaret of York and Charles the Bold of Burgundy
> Date: July 3, 1468

Adjusted to today’s prices, the 1468 wedding of Margaret of York to Charles the Bold cost $200 million. The reception included a four-day jousting competition and a week of parades, pageants, performances, and feasts. Margaret wore a diamond and pearl encrusted tiara, an ermine-lined gown, and was transported in a gold litter drawn by white horses. There were even fountains spewing sweet wine.

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

2. Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip
> Date: November 20, 1947

Before the wedding of Princess Elizabeth, currently the Queen of England, her fiancé Prince Philip was made the Duke of Edinburgh. Their 500-pound cake was nine feet tall, decorated with both families’ seals, and was cut with the duke’s Mountbatten sword. Elizabeth’s dress was decorated with crystals and 10,000 seed pearls. The royal couple received over 2,500 wedding gifts from all over the world.

Source: Express / Getty Images

3. Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly
> Date: April 18, 1956

Grace Kelly, an American actress, retired from her successful career when she wed the Prince of Monaco, Rainier Grimaldi III. Kelly’s dress, a gift from MGM studios featuring antique lace and hundreds of pearls, required six weeks and 30 seamstresses to complete. Her veil was made from 90 yards of tulle, and the dinner included lobster, champagne, caviar, and a 200-pound cake topped with a cage holding a pair of live turtledoves.

Source: Getty Images / Getty Images

4. Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones
> Date: May 6, 1960

Princess Margaret’s was the first royal wedding to be broadcast on TV, and had over 300 million viewers. The princess arrived at Westminster Abbey in a glass coach in the presence of 2,000 congregants, including movie stars, politicians, and royalty. Her silk organza dress took over almost 33 yards of fabric to create, and her massive antique tiara — originally made for Lady Poltimore in the 1870s — was recently auctioned for $1.7 million.

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Source: Milos Bicanski / Getty Images

5. King Constantine II and Princess Anne-Marie
> Date: September 18, 1964

When the King of Greece married the Princess of Denmark, the festivities lasted for weeks and spanned both countries. Beginning Septemeber 7 with a private reception in Denmark, a lavish dinner the next night for 1,000 guests, and a carriage procession through Copenhagen to greet the crowds, the party then sailed to Greece where the King hosted three large receptions with 6,000 guests. The couple finally married on September 18 with a guest list that included over 55 princes and princesses, eight reigning monarchs, and royal and government representatives from more than 87 countries.

Source: Salah Malkawi / Getty Images

6. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Makhtoum and Sheikha Hing Bint Makhtoum
> Date: April 26, 1979

Possibly the most expensive royal wedding in history at $137 million, this Dubai ceremony required a new stadium that would fit 20,000 people. Thirty-four private jets brought guests from all over the world and the festivities lasted seven days, five of which were declared a national holiday.

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Source: 51764518@N02 / Flickr

7. Prince Charles and Diana Spencer
> Date: July 29, 1981

The wedding of Prince Charles to Diana Spencer, who became beloved all over the world for her dedication to charity work, was attended by 2 million street spectators and another 750 million people watched on television. Diana’s dress featured a 25-foot lace and taffeta train, and the five-foot tall wedding cake took 14 weeks to complete. There was even a backup cake in case the first became damaged. The wedding costs totaled about $70 million.

Source: Elke Wetzig (Elya) / Wikimedia Commons

8. Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson
> Date: July 23, 1986

The wedding of the Duke and Duchess of York was attended by British and foreign royalty alike, as well as Nancy Reagan and Elton John. Over 100,000 people lined the streets outside Buckingham Palace. For the ceremony, Westminster Abbey was decorated with 30,000 flowers. Fergie’s ivory silk dress, designed by British couturer Lindka Cierach, was embroidered with roses, anchors, and bumblebees (inspired by her new family crest), and had a 17-foot train. She also wore a 20-foot veil and a crown of fragrant gardenias (her husband’s favorite flower). Their boozy marzipan cake was soaked with rum, brandy, and port, and was over five feet tall.

Source: Getty Images / Getty Images

9. Crown Prince Naruhito and Masako Owada
> Date: June 9, 1993

In a traditional ceremony at the Imperial Palace, Masako Owada donned a juni-hitoe, which means 12-layered garment. The silk kimono weighed 30 pounds and cost over $300,000. Prince Naruhito wore a traditional orange robe representing the rising sun. Though the wedding was attended by 800 guests, the ceremony took place in a hidden Shinto shrine dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu. The couple then changed into formal western wedding attire and in a ritual that was performed for the next three nights, they ate gifts of mochi offered to them along with wishes for a healthy male child. Naruhito became emperor of Japan on May 1 after his father abdicated.

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Source: Salah Malkawi / Getty Images

10. Prince Abdullah II of Jordan and Rania al-Yassin
> Date: June 10, 1993

For her marriage to Prince Abdullah, Rania al-Yassin had two dresses by British designer Bruce Oldfield (who also created many of Princess Diana’s evening gowns) — one with gold detailing for the traditional Muslim ceremony, and a less modest dress for the reception. Their huge multi-tiered cake, decorated with lace and crowns, was cut with a sword. Prince Abdullah, the oldest of the king’s 12 children, became King of Jordan six years after the wedding, in 1999.

Source: Chris Jackson / Getty Images

11. Prince Pavlos of Greece and Marie-Chantal Miller
> Date: July 1, 1995

The Greek prince and his bride chose to hold their wedding at St. Sophia’s Cathedral in London, in a celebration that cost $7 million. Marie-Chantal, whose dowry was about $258 million, wore a $233,000 silk dress encrusted with pearls, with a 13-foot train. The cathedral was decorated with 30,000 pink flowers, and the eight-tier cake was decorated with roses, inspired by a china pattern from the royal collection. There were even 300 smaller cakes, one for every dinner table.

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Source: Ben Stansall / Getty Images

12. Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones
> Date: June 19, 1999

During the wedding of Prince Edward, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth of England, the drive to Windsor Castle was lined with 8,000 locals chosen to represent the town of Windsor, where the bride arrived in a Rolls Royce wearing a wedding dress decorated with 325,000 hand-sewn pearls and cut glass beads. Dinner included pastries of smoked haddock and mushroom, beef stroganoff, fresh raspberries, and a seven-tier, 10-foot tall devil’s food cake decorated with sugar roses.

Source: Ragnar Singsaas / Getty Images

13. Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby
> Date: August 25, 2001

Despite rain, over 100,000 people gathered along the route from the Royal Palace to the cathedral to congratulate Crown Prince Haakon and Mette-Marit on their wedding day. Street parties, cannons firing, and fireworks followed the ceremony, while the bride and groom cruised in a 1966 Lincoln convertible to the reception. Mette-Marit’s silk gown was a replica of the dress her husband’s great-grandmother, Queen Maud, wore at her wedding. Mette-Marit also wore a 1910 diamond tiara and carried a woven flower garland instead of a bouquet.

Source: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

14. Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson
> Date: May 14, 2004

When Prince Frederik of Denmark married Australian Mary Donaldson, weeks of celebration ensued. Events included a formal reception on April 20, a military parade, a concert, a sailing race, a dinner hosted by the Queen in Christiansborg Palace, a private night club party, and a gala performance at the Royal Theatre. For the ceremony, Mary wore a simple off-the-shoulder satin gown with a 19-foot train and an antique lace veil previously worn by Princess Margareta of Sweden. Her bouquet featured Australian eucalyptus flown in for the wedding.

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Source: Pool / Getty Images

15. Felipe, Prince of Asturias, and Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano
> Date: May 22, 2004

Taking place two months after a terrorist attack in Madrid, the wedding of Prince Felipe of Spain and Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano required 20,000 police officers for security. It was attended by over 1,700 guests, including 30 heads of state. Letizia wore a Prussian diamond tiara, a silk gown woven with silver and gold threads, and a hand-embroidered 10-foot veil. The dinner included seafood pastry tartlets on a bed of scallops and roast capon.

Source: Pool / Getty Images

16. Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden
> Date: June 19, 2010

Princess Victoria married her fitness trainer, Daniel Westling, against the wishes of her father, King Carl XVI Gustaf. An estimated 250,000 people lined the streets, which were decorated with flowers, to witness the marriage. Victoria’s duchess silk dress, designed by Swedish designer Pär Engsheden, had a 15-foot train. The couple’s cake, a gift from Sweden’s Association of Bakers and Confectioners, weighed 550 pounds, and had 11 tiers, all shaped like four-leaf clovers.

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Source: Chris Jackson / Getty Images

17. Prince Nikolaos and Tatiana Ellinka Blatnik
> Date: August 25, 2010

Held on the island of Spetses, Greece, the wedding of Prince Nikolaus to Venezuelan-born Tatiana Ellinka Blatnik featured a horse-drawn carriage, sea-themed bridesmaids’ gowns, boat horns, and a seaside dinner of champagne risotto, beef tagliata, and a pavlova meringue cake with fresh fruit and Chantilly cream. Tatiana’s dress, designed by fellow Venezuelan Angel Sanchez, was fashioned out of 131 feet of French lace.

Source: Chris Jackson / Getty Images

18. Prince William and Kate Middleton
> Date: April 29, 2011

This Westminster Abbey wedding is estimated to have cost $34 million, with a whopping $32 million possibly spent just on security. Kate’s dress, designed by Sarah Burton of the fashion label Alexander McQueen, was another major expense at $434,000.

Source: Andreas Rentz / Getty Images

19. Prince Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock
> Date: July 2, 2011

Grace Kelly’s son, Prince Albert II, married Charlene Wittstock, a South African swimmer, in two ceremonies held a day apart — one civil and one religious. Charlene’s dress, embroidered with crystals and mother of pearl, took over 2,500 hours to create. Costing over $55 million, the wedding celebration was overshadowed by Charlene’s multiple attempts to flee Monaco for South Africa before the ceremonies, amid rumors of a child fathered by Albert during their courtship.

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Source: Triston Yeo / Getty Images

20. King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Jetsun Pema
> Date: October 13, 2011

The Dragon King of Bhutan’s 2011 wedding to Jetsun Pema cost an estimated $17 million, but the whole populace was invited to the party. The country declared a three-day holiday in honor of the marriage, for which the king provided a huge traditional lunch buffet for the public, along with music and dance performances. The Buddhist wedding ceremony took place in the king’s 17th-century fortress; the king descended from his throne wearing a red raven crown to meet his bride, who donned a traditional wraparound skirt and embroidered sash.

Source: de:Benutzer:Chtrede / Wikimedia Commons

 

21. Princess Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah and Pengiran Haji Muhammad Ruzaini
> Date: September 20, 2012

In a wedding that cost an estimated $20 million to $35 million, the Princess of Brunei married her husband in the throne hall of the Istana Nurul Iman, her family’s 1,700-room palace. The princess wore a crystal-beaded gown and was escorted by 16 royal guards. Her father, the Sultan of Brunei, is known for his excessive spending, and supposedly owns over 600 Rolls Royces.

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Source: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

22. Prince Abdul Malik and Dayangku Raabi’atul ‘Adawiyyah Pengiran Haji Bolkiah
> Date: April 5, 2015

The wedding of the Sultan of Brunei’s youngest son cost about $30 million. While both the bride and groom wore diamond-encrusted traditional attire, the bride also carried a bouquet of gems instead of flowers, donned a diamond and emerald tiara and necklace, and wore gold anklets and crystal-studded heels. The wedding celebration lasted 11 days, beginning with a symbolic marriage proposal ceremony, then an anointing ceremony where the bride and groom were blessed with oils and powders, and a gifting ceremony. After the wedding, the bride changed into equally extravagant attire featuring rubies instead of emeralds.

Source: Frankie Fouganthin / Wikimedia Commons

23. Prince Carl Phillip of Sweden and Sophia Hellqvist
> Date: June 13, 2015

Unique among royal wedding cakes was the colorful dessert of Prince Carl Philip and Sophia Hellqvist, which was filled with pop rocks. Sophia’s dress was silk crepe layered over silk organza and lined with lace, and her tulle veil was hand-embroidered with cotton lace. After the ceremony, which took place at the royal chapel in Stockholm, the newlyweds took a coach ride through the streets to greet spectators, then attended a dinner featuring asparagus in elderflower juice, grilled scallops, and perch with crème fraîche and smoked butter.

Source: Daniel Perez / Getty Images

24. Lady Charlotte Wellesley and Alejandro Santo Domingo
> Date: May 28, 2016

Though Charlotte Wellesley is the daughter of the Duke of Wellington, her wedding to billionaire Alejandro Santo Domingo is what made her one of the wealthiest people in Britain. Held at the World Heritage site the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, her wedding cost $6 million. Charlotte wore an off-the-shoulder dress designed by Emilia Wickham and a long polka-dot embroidered veil. The reception was held nearby at her father’s 2,400-acre estate.

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Source: WPA Pool / Getty Images

25. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
> Date: May 19, 2018

Not unlike William and Kate’s wedding, Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle required tens of millions of dollars for safety and security. The total cost is estimated at $42 million, with almost $38 million of that spent on security measures. Meghan’s dress, designed by Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy, cost about $508,000, and she wore a vintage diamond tiara once owned by Queen Mary. After the ceremony, the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex greeted spectators from a carriage procession and attended multiple receptions.