The Most Expensive Royal Weddings Ever

It's no secret that royal weddings are not exactly economical. Weddings in general are getting exponentially more expensive each year. According to the Brides 2018 American Wedding Study, the average wedding totaled $44,000 that year. In 2017, however, a typical wedding ran about $27,000. That's an over 60% increase in just one year. And this is just the cost of your standard, run-of-the-mill wedding. A royal wedding is, naturally, a whole lot more expensive.

While most of the British royal weddings these days are paid for, in large part, by the royal family, there is still an impact on taxpayers — to the tune of millions of dollars. Royal weddings also differ from average ceremonies because they're actually able to generate revenue back into the economy. When speaking with Market Watch, Richard Haigh, managing director at Brand Finance, estimated that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's 2018 wedding alone had a $1.4 billion impact on the United Kingdom's economy. Still, royal weddings — whether in the U.K. or elsewhere — don't come cheap. These are some of the most expensive royal weddings ever.

Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones' royal wedding made history

Although Princess Margaret's marriage to Antony Armstrong-Jones would not last, her royal wedding would forever be cemented in history. Their wedding on May 6, 1960, was the first royal wedding to have ever been televised, BBC News reported. But the groom wasn't exactly a pauper. And there was nothing at all paltry about their ceremony.

Over 20 million people watched from their screens as the couple exchanged vows at Westminster Abbey, and an additional 2,000 guests attended the event in person. Yes, it was a big to-do. Express, citing multiple reports, revealed that the wedding likely cost around £26,000 at the time. Factoring in inflation, that figure would be more like £168,700 — about $212,000 — today. And that's just their wedding. The couple's honeymoon is thought to have been even more expensive. We're talking over twice as much as the wedding itself. Whew.

Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly's extravagant mid-century royal wedding involved a dowry

In 1956, an American "commoner" married a royal in one expensive royal wedding in Monaco. Hollywood actress Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco married at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Monaco on April 18, 1956.

Although there isn't a complete breakdown of the royal couple's wedding costs, Harper's Bazaar reported that Kelly's wedding gown, which was comprised of 100 yards of quality silk and 25 yards of taffeta, cost around $8,000 in 1956. With inflation, that would be over $100,000 today. Her father, millionaire Jack Kelly, also needed to provide a dowry of $2 million before his daughter could marry the prince. Express quoted her father, who was outraged at the time, as saying, "My daughter doesn't have to pay any man to marry her." Still, he did eventually contribute the necessary $2 million to put toward wedding costs. Obviously, calling Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly's wedding opulent would be quite the understatement.

Millions watched Swedish Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling's royal wedding

In 2010, the Swedish royal family celebrated the union of Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling. The Telegraph reported at the time that the celebrations were scheduled to last for multiple days. The ceremony took place at the Storkyrkan Cathedral in Stockholm, Sweden — the very venue the princess' parents, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, were married exactly 34 years earlier. The couple's big day was broadcast on television and watched by nearly 5 million people. An additional 200,000 people took to the city to get a glimpse of the bride and groom.

According to a report published by Sweden's The Local a month prior to the royal wedding, the affair was estimated to cost 20 million kronor, or $2.63 million. According to Swedish royal treasurer Jan Lindman, 10 million kronor was set to come "from the government" — a.k.a. taxpayers — and "the rest" would be the responsibility of the king. "All the guests also have to be fed, with drinks and entertainment," he explained. "Then the palace furniture needs to be rearranged and the old hall needs to be spruced up."

Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank's long-awaited royal wedding cost a big chunk of change

Just as the world was going through royal wedding withdrawal after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's nuptials, Princess Eugenie married her longtime partner, Jack Brooksbank. The two were pronounced husband and wife at George's Chapel at Windsor Castle — the same venue Harry and Meghan used. Although the royal family hasn't stated just how much the princess' wedding cost, Hamish Shephard, founder of the wedding planning site and app Bridebook, revealed his estimate in an interview with Express

Factoring in the costs of catering, flowers, entertainment, the necessary police presence, and so on, Hamish believes the royal wedding likely cost about £2.7 million. That is, $3.3 million. Harper's Bazaar estimated that Eugenie's wedding gown alone likely set the royal family back by $135,000 — and that's on the low end. "Given Eugenie's place in the royal family, and the connection she's established in London's fashion scene, it's likely that her gown is being designed especially for her, and that fabrics were sourced from wherever necessary," the publication revealed. All such things come at a pretty penny.

Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece and Marie-Chantal Miller had a Greek temple-themed royal wedding

Spending a few million bucks or so on a wedding may be hard to fathom, but that's really chump change compared to the cost of Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece and Marie-Chantal Miller's wedding. Although they are not part of the British royal family, the couple wed at St. Sophia's Cathedral in London back in 1995. Vogue reported that Miller wore a "pearl-encrusted Valentino gown" with a 13-foot Chantilly lace train — and it took 25 seamstresses a whopping four months to create.

According to an interview with Robert Isabell, the late renowned florist and event planner, published in The New York Times in 1996, Isabell designed "a Greek temple and garden" for the couple's royal wedding. All said and done, the publication reported that the wedding set the prince's parents back a total of $8 million.

Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal wedding was costly even without security

Prince William and Kate Middleton had one pricey royal wedding. Business Insider reported that their 2011 wedding totaled an incredible £23.7 million, or $34 million. CBS News revealed that all but $2 million went toward paying for security. A large portion of the leftover cash went toward Kate's stunning Alexander McQueen gown, which carried a price tag of nearly a half-million dollars — $434,000 to be exact.

Although it's not uncommon for the British royal family to foot the bill for the majority of royal wedding-related expenses, Kate's family reportedly contributed a great deal to the couple's ceremony. A senior royal aide confirmed to Vanity Fair that the Middleton family made a "six-figure contribution" to the couple's wedding: "It is something they absolutely wanted to do, and William graciously accepted." We do get it, William. Weddings are expensive.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal wedding was not at all average

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal wedding in May 2018 wasn't cheap. In fact, it was more expensive than Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding. Ahead of the couple's big day, the wedding planning site Bridebook revealed that the affair was expected to cost "over 100 times" the price of the average wedding in the U.K. — and that didn't even include the "£30 million expected security costs." All told, the couple's wedding was estimated to have cost between $40 million (£32 million) and $42.8 million

The venue, St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, was thought to be the single highest expense aside from security. The music and Meghan's wedding gown likely rang in at about the same price — somewhere around £300,000. No, it wasn't a cheap day by any stretch of the imagination. However, the royals paid for most of the bill. "As was the case with the wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Royal Family will pay for the core aspects of the wedding, such as the church service, the associated music, flowers, decorations, and the reception afterwards," a statement from Harry's communications secretary revealed. 

Prince Albert II and Charlene Wittstock's royal wedding had lots of glitz and glamour

Not long after Prince William and Kate Middleton married in 2011, Monaco's Prince Albert II married Charlene Wittstock. "It was a much-needed sprinkling of stardust for the Grimaldi family, harking back to the happy day, 55 years ago, when Albert's late father, Prince Rainier, married Hollywood beauty Grace Kelly," the Los Angeles Times reported. And, much like Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly's royal wedding, the modern-day couple's wedding was über expensive. According to the publication, the wedding costs tallied up to $70 million. Gulp.

The wedding took place at the royal palace in Monaco, BBC News reported, and a "more elaborate religious ceremony" was held later. Despite the glitz and glamour of the wedding, though, rumors took center stage that day. Some claimed Wittstock was suffering from cold feet and was going to call the whole thing off. "These rumors have no other goal than to severely damage the reputation of the monarch and thereby that of Miss Wittstock and severely undermine this happy event," the palace revealed in a statement to BBC News. The couple did indeed get married and, as of this writing, are still together.

Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer's wedding was known as the 'royal wedding of the century'

Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer's union in 1981 was not only a big day for the royal couple — it became the most expensive British royal wedding of all time. When adjusting for inflation, the wedding was reported to have cost anywhere from $70 million to $110 million, which means it may have been, as Business Insider reported, nearly four times more expensive than Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding.

Diana's wedding gown alone cost six figures. Town & Country estimated the price of her gown at $115,000 for a variety of reasons. The "Alexander McQueen ivory taffeta gown" was designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel and "intricately embroidered with sequins, frilled lace, and 10,000 pearls," the publication revealed. The train of Diana's wedding dress was 25 feet long, and, believe it or not, her veil was even longer. Factor in the exorbitant costs of the couple's beautiful venue, decorations, and florals, and you can see how this wedding truly became the "wedding of the century."

Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark had a fairytale wedding

The Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark had a lavish royal wedding that was the perfect happy ending to their fairytale romance. Frederik first met Mary in Sydney during the 2000 Olympics. After the prince happened to meet the then-marketing executive at a bar, the pair started a long-distance relationship. She even had to learn Danish, convert to Lutheranism, and give up her Australian citizenship to make the relationship work (via SCMP). Just one year later, Mary moved to Denmark, and, by 2003, the pair was engaged.

Their extravagant royal wedding took place on May 14, 2004. According to Hello!, the wedding was truly something out of a storybook. Mary wore a stunning off-the-shoulder satin gown with a 19-foot train by Danish designer Uffe Frank along with a lace veil previously worn by Princess Margareta from Sweden. The Bishop of Copenhagen officiated. Outside, thousands of royal fans gathered and waved flags from both Denmark and Australia. It's hard to imagine a more romantic story or a more beautiful wedding!

The Abu Dhabi wedding of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Princess Salama was extreme

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi and Princess Salama of the United Arab Emirates got married in 1981, and, according to Rarest, the pair had one of the most expensive weddings in history. The price at the time was estimated to cost over $100,000,000 by today's standards — even exceeding the cost of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's 1981 wedding. That's something!

According to Forbes, the sheikh's parents built a 20,000-seat stadium for the occasion. The celebrations reportedly lasted for a whole week, during which the sheikh rode on horseback to every town in the emirate to celebrate with his subjects around the country. There were also 20 camels covered in jewels which reportedly carried the couple's wedding presents to the bride on their wedding day. It really doesn't get much more extravagant than this!

In 2004, King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain had a classic royal wedding in Madrid

King Felipe and Queen Letizia — a former journalist — of Spain tied the knot in 2004 at Madrid's Cathedral Santa Maria la Real de la Alundena — and, as you might expect, the wedding was pretty spectacular. For a start, the bride was presented with an engagement ring reportedly worth £20,000 (or $24,000), via Express.

According to Royal Central, the wedding celebrations lasted a whole week and included a dinner for 350 guests. Roughly 25 million people watched the ceremony itself on TV and on huge screens mounted throughout the city. Huge crowds turned up even though the wedding took place on a rainy day! The bride's gown, designed by Manuel Pertegaz, featured a four-and-a-half meter train. She also wore a Prussian tiara and diamond earrings. Per Hello!, the bridal party consisted of adorable children from the royal family who wore white and gold.

Princess Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah and Pengiran Haji Muhammad Ruzaini wed in 2012

In 2012, another spectacular Brunei wedding took place: this time, between Princess Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah, daughter of the Sultan, and Pengiran Haji Muhammad Ruzaini. As the Sultan was, at the time, one of the wealthiest men in the world, it comes as no surprise that the ceremony was utterly breathtaking.

As ABC News reported, the ceremony took place in the Sultan's huge palace. While the ceremony only lasted for around 20 minutes, this was followed by a large banquet. Additionally, other traditional Malay celebrations lasted for over a week. The bride wore a gown covered in beige and silver crystal beading. Apparently, the groom was nervous — and we're hardly surprised. It was a strictly traditional ceremony that featured many Malay customs and pageantry. The groom was given the title "Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Anak," or "Son of His Highness," as part of the ceremony. Around 3,000 guests were in attendance.

Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah Bolkiah of Brunei and Sarah Salleh arrived in a gold limo

In 2004, Al-Muhtadee Billah Bolkiah, Crown Prince of Brunei, married Sarah Salleh, a "commoner," in a wedding that's considered to be one of the most lavish in history. As Page Six reported, the pair even arrived in a limo adorned with gold. According to Royalty Monthly, the pair met through a mutual friend.

The ceremony took place on September 9, 2004, in Istana Nurul Iman Palace in Bandar Seri Begawan. As CBS reported at the time, they followed Malay traditions and celebrated for two whole weeks. First, on September 5, the couple had a marriage powdering ceremony followed by a traditional henna ceremony on September 8, in which the bride was accompanied by four bridesmaids. After the ceremony, the pair drove through the streets in a procession featuring 103 limousines and cars along with a marching band. Clearly, this was a wedding that the people of Brunei would never forget.