What Prince Albert And Princess Charlene's Wedding Was Really Like

When you become a legitimate royal, all eyes are on you in a different way than before, no matter how famous you were on your own. Even if you're just dating a royal, there are rules and protocols that have to be followed, and if you have a royal wedding, the public is even more intrigued by your relationship and who you are. Take Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco. The couple met in 2000 at the Mare Nostrum swimming competition. Charlene, an Olympic swimmer, placed first in the 200m backstroke at the event. Since then, Albert and Charlene have stayed together, consistently battling rumors of infidelity and speculation that the two are in a relationship for reasons other than love, and the media has been involved in their relationship the entire time. 

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene got engaged in 2010, and tabloids certainly didn't leave them alone ahead of their 2011 wedding. But as intriguing as their relationship is, Prince Albert and Princess Charlene's wedding was even more interesting. Ungodly expensive and fantastically grand, the second major royal wedding of that year was far more fun to read about than anything concerning the bride and groom's relationship. Instead of speculating about the nature of the royal marriage, let's discuss something we know. Here's what Prince Albert and Princess Charlene's wedding was really like. 

It was the first royal wedding in Monaco in 55 years

The royal family in Monaco might not be as famous as other royal families around the world, but a past member of its group is a bona fide old Hollywood icon. In 1956, Grace Kelly went from being a Tinseltown starlet to a legitimate princess when she married Prince Rainier. Prior to Prince Albert and Princess Charlene's wedding, this was the most recent royal wedding to take place in Monaco, and it was quite a lavish affair. Grace and Rainier had 600 guests at their wedding, including actor Ava Gardner and famed hotelier Conrad Hilton.

The ceremony took place at the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Monaco, and Grace stunned in a custom-made gown that was gifted to her by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio that she was contracted with at the time. Grace and Rainier rode down the streets of Monaco after their wedding in a Rolls-Royce convertible, and the night was capped off with a fireworks display. Despite the beautiful event, many have wondered whether Grace was truly happy with her marriage. The day before the wedding, Barbara Walters was in Monaco to conduct an interview with the bride-to-be. In an interview with Walters, the late journalist said, "I said, 'Are you happy?' and [Grace] said, 'I have a certain peace of mind.'" Walters added, "When the interview was over, she almost broke down in tears."

The wedding reportedly almost didn't happen

Grace Kelly wasn't the only impending bride whose emotions over her wedding were in question. Prior to Prince Albert and Princess Charlene's wedding, many reports alleged that Charlene did not want to get married and nearly fled Monaco multiple times. Prince Albert has four children, two of whom were born out of wedlock and prior to his relationship with Charlene. Because of his two eldest children, Albert has earned a reputation some see as unfit for a person of his status. Ahead of their wedding, it was reported that Charlene was questioning whether Albert was faithful to her during their relationship, and that the alleged line of questioning almost caused her to leave him. Further rumors swirled, claiming that Charlene was so distressed that in order to calm her down, paternity tests were carried out.

Over 10 years later, Charlene addressed the claims that had flooded the tabloids at the time. "And then the rumors started. They said I was running away. Where was I running to? The dark side of the moon?" Charlene said in an interview with People, assuring that she had no intention of ever leaving her then-fiancé. "I think it's impossible though for someone on the outside to understand how awful, how much pressure there was for both of us. Enormous. You wouldn't believe it," Princess Charlene added.

It was a three-days-long event

Most weddings last two days for the bridal party and one day for the guests. Anything more than that is often considered extravagant. How, then, would Princess Charlene and Prince Albert's three-day-long marital affair be described? The events began on June 30, 2011, with an Eagles concert at Stade Louis II stadium. The following day, the ceremonies began. On Friday, July 1, 2011, Prince Albert and Princess Charlene married in a civil ceremony that took place in the Throne Room at the Prince's Palace of Monaco, the same room where Prince Albert's parents, Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly, held their wedding ceremony. It was during this ceremony that Charlene officially became a princess.

On Saturday, July 2, Princess Charlene and Prince Albert held a religious ceremony. The two exchanged vows again in a Catholic service, this time held outside, as the Cathedral was not big enough to hold the number of guests invited to the wedding. Onlookers noted that both Albert and Charlene did not display many emotions during the ceremony, though they did smile at each other while exchanging rings. "I was worried how things were going to turn out, the sequence of events. I wasn't very relaxed. I think it turned out okay, but it was just so many things to think of," Prince Albert told People of the days-long event.

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene had famous guests in attendance

The average number of wedding guests is around 117. Nothing about Prince Albert and Princess Charlene's wedding was average, though, so their guest list far outnumbered the average. The couple had 800 guests at their wedding, a healthy mixture of family, friends, royals from other countries, and celebrities. And, as previously noted, because of the lengthy guest list, the religious ceremony on Saturday, July 2 had to be held outside — the Cathedral can only fit 500 people. In addition to the invited guests, there were about 150,000 onlookers who lined the streets of Monaco to see the couple. For reference, just over 33,000 people lived in Monaco in 2011. "This was an enormous affair — probably even bigger than I ever thought. It was nice in many ways," Prince Albert told People of his wedding. "I was glad to share it, to share the moment with a lot of people from Monaco," he added.

Of the 800 guests, many were quite notable. Some of the most famous people in attendance included Sir Roger Moore, Roberto Cavalli, Naomi Campbell, and Karl Lagerfeld. The difference in the number of guests from the civil ceremony to the religious ceremony made a difference in which service the couple preferred. "Probably the civil wedding was more emotional because it was more intimate, there were fewer of us, and then we were all together," Princess Charlene said of her wedding.

Princess Charlene's veil was 66 feet long

Princess Charlene donned multiple stunning looks throughout her wedding weekend. On Friday, Charlene and Albert wed in a civil ceremony, and Charlene wore a blue set with a blazer and a chiffon skirt designed by Karl Lagerfeld. "We wanted something to match the color of my eyes," Charlene said to Vogue about her Friday attire. "It's feminine and keeps with tradition yet has a little twist that reflects my personal style," she added. The bride strayed a bit from tradition with her bridesmaids' dresses, noting to the outlet that she let her maids of honor choose their own gowns for the wedding.

Very little else was said about what the other guests wore to Charlene's wedding — her gown was the talk of the globe that weekend. Designed by Giorgio Armani, Charlene's ivory wedding dress took 2,500 hours to sew. Replete with 40,000 Swarovski crystals and 20,000 mother-of-pearls, the gown had a 5-meter-long train, and she paired it with a 66-foot-long veil. "It was such a huge responsibility that we actually made two dresses just in case something happened to one of them," Roberta Armani said of Charlene's wedding dress. Charlene changed into a second Armani Privé gown for the reception. "The wedding dress is pretty heavy so I wanted to change into something light, soft and easy to move in for the evening," she said of her second gown.

They served a five-tier cake with loads of strawberries

While there were several hundred guests invited to the religious ceremony, Prince Albert and Princess Charlene had about 6,000 guests at their reception later that evening. Although the cocktail hour and dinner only had a guest list of about 650, the royal couple still had lots of people to serve, and they kept them fed with lots of gourmet offerings, including a five-tier wedding cake complete with 110 pounds of strawberries. Planning for this event took a small village, and not everyone saw eye-to-eye on the details. "There were huge arguments. Not between us — but with everybody ... Everything! From the shape of the wedding cake to those people saying, 'We'll give you the wedding cake!' And I remember them saying, 'But we don't like this wedding cake, it just looks awful," Prince Albert's sister Princess Caroline told People of the planning stages.

There were dozens of other small details that made the entire wedding weekend unique. Charlene's wedding bouquet was made of white flowers, including lilies of the valley. Michelin-star chef Alain Ducasse was in charge of the meal. Famed pen brand Montblanc created a special set of pens for the couple to sign their marriage certificate. "It was all very elegant and moving ... today is truly wonderful. Charlene looks stunning," Naomi Campbell told Vogue of the wedding.

The Eagles performed a concert for guests

Most couples planning a wedding have to decide whether to hire a band or a DJ to take care of their wedding music. For Prince Albert and Princess Charlene, the decision, instead, was which famous rock band to hire. The couple invited the famed music group The Eagles to Monaco for their wedding weekend to perform a concert on Thursday, June 30, 2011, the night before their civil ceremony. The concert was free to Monaco residents and was held at Stade Louis II, a stadium in Monaco. "Some people hire a string quartet — he got The Eagles. It was a huge, huge weekend," Prince Albert's friend Chris Lavine told People of the wedding festivities. "It was spectacular ... Monaco, they just wanted to put on the biggest show they could," he added.

The Eagles are huge, but other famous musicians lent their talents to the couple that weekend, as well. Opera singer Andrea Bocelli performed at the wedding and reportedly was paid £5 million for his services for the weekend. Though grand, the bride and groom were reportedly a little overwhelmed by the magnitude of the events. "It just kind of got out of control with all of the events," Lavine said. "I'm sure that at some point during that wild time they said, 'Oh my gosh, what did we let ourselves in for here?'"

It was broadcast on television and over the internet

Royal weddings are often events of interest to the public, and it's become standard for the most high-profile affairs to be broadcast for the world to watch. Just months before Princess Charlene and Prince Albert tied the knot, another famous royal couple, Prince William and Kate Middleton, wed in a ceremony that over 70 million people around the world watched. While the exact number of viewers of Charlene and Albert's wedding was not publicized, it was likely a high figure, as the event was broadcast over television as well as the internet.

The broadcast allowed many people to see the wedding, but that came with speculation over how the couple felt on their wedding day. Many onlookers reported that the bride, in particular, seemed unhappy, but others noted that the groom looked upset, too. "The actual wedding day itself was not as ... I mean it was pleasant, but I was more worried about how things would turn out. That probably shows on the footage," Prince Albert told People about his demeanor on his wedding day. The reports were perhaps intensified by claims that Princess Charlene had tried to run away before the wedding, but as Prince Albert later said to CBS News, "Those rumors were completely unfounded, completely untrue. And it was very unfair to, the — and we know the source. But, and we've been able to deal with that. But it was a very unfair treatment."

They had a glamorous honeymoon

After their $70 million days-long wedding, Prince Albert and Princess Charlene did what most newlyweds do: they went on a honeymoon. But like their wedding, the royal couple's honeymoon was a bit more luxurious than most honeymoons. Albert and Charlene reportedly honeymooned in South Africa and stayed at the Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga. At the time, suites at this hotel ran guests £4,600 a night. The couple reportedly stayed in the Presidential Suite and had views of the Indian Ocean. According to a royal source, Albert's choice to take his bride on a lavish post-wedding trip was inspired by another royal. "William took Catherine to a very expensive beach resort for their honeymoon following the British Royal Wedding, so why not Albert and Charlene?" the source told the Daily Mail.

South Africa was likely chosen as the couple's honeymoon destination because it's Princess Charlene's home. The bride grew up in South Africa, and she represented the country at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Ahead of becoming royalty in Monaco, Princess Charlene expressed her intent to remain committed to her new home country while still having love for where she was raised. "I will never forget my native country," the bride told Tatler. "But it is very important for me to balance my love for South Africa with my duty and responsibility to Monaco. First and foremost, I am committed to the people of Monaco," she added.

In retrospect, the couple might have done things differently

Hindsight is 20/20. While Prince Albert and Princess Charlene were pleased with the outcome of their wedding weekend, it was quite a tiring event. "I just remember being exhausted having to do all the planning," Princess Charlene told People in an interview years after she and her husband got married. "I actually left the evening quite early because I could hardly stand on my two legs," the former athlete added. Charlene also noted that the stress of planning and the pressure to have a successful weekend manifested itself during the ceremony. She shared that while exchanging rings with Prince Albert, Charlene almost put Albert's ring on the wrong hand, and he had to remind her during the exchange which hand was correct.

The days-long event included concerts, celebrities, five-star meals, and sky-high cakes, but the couple has expressed that they didn't need all the fanfare and they would maybe change their plans if they could do it all over again. "If we could have had the wedding on a beach somewhere with 20 people like one I went to for some friends of mine years ago, we would have been, very happy," Prince Albert said of his wedding. "A private affair it would have been fine with me. And fine with Charlene too."