The 20 most expensive celebrity weddings

  1. The 20 most expensive celebrity weddings

    Lea Goldman and Tatiana Serafin

    The celebrity wedding is the Super Bowl of event planning. Since budgets are typically a non-issue, superstar nuptials are beyond lavish. But it's the access enjoyed by celebrities that truly differentiates their receptions from those of even the very wealthy. Renowned designers personally oversee made-to-order gowns; celebrity chefs are wrangled to handle catering; and even venues typically off-limits or prohibitively expensive to the general public are fair game for the famous. In Forbes' first-ever search for the 20 most expensive celebrity weddings, we surveyed A-list nuptials during the past 20 years. (Our estimates are not adjusted for inflation.) We factored in estimates for all the major components of a wedding and reception--the venue, flowers, catering, entertainment and gown. (Honeymoons were not included.) Forbes only considered weddings where information was available.
    When possible, we considered miscellaneous expenses. For example, Donald Trump and Melania Knauss hired upscale "floral designer" Preston Bailey to manage their wedding. His fees typically begin at US$100,000. (Compare that with the cost of the typical North American wedding, which on average costs roughly US$26,800, according to The Wedding Report, an annual survey of wedding trends.)
    The figures on this list are best estimates given available information. Forbes made every effort to solicit feedback and comment from the celebrities on this list. Forbes determined the tie-breakers based on available information.
    Exclusive coverage awarded to various magazines--now a common component of the celebrity wedding--was also used to gather information. In some cases, celebrities donated the proceeds of the sale of their wedding photos. People magazine reportedly paid US$1 million for exclusive access to the 1991 wedding of Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky at Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch. Taylor then donated the monies to AIDS research. Paul McCartney and Heather Mills are believed to have turned down various offers for coverage. Instead, they sold pictures from their 2002 wedding to whoever was willing to shell out £1000 (US$1,600), with the proceeds going to their pet charities.
    Selling rights to cover the wedding is one way for celebrities to control the media maelstrom surrounding their nuptials. Tiger Woods foiled paparazzi plans by renting the entire Sandy Lane Resort on Barbados, plus the island's only helicopter charter company, when he and his bride Elin Nordegren wed there in 2004. Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones required all guests at their 2000 wedding in New York City to arrive with their invites, which had been embossed with holograms to thwart crashers who might have dummied fake invitations.
    Yet other celebrity couples seem to relish the limelight. The ill-fated Manhattan marriage of Liza Minnelli and David Gest in 2002 caused a near standstill of city traffic thanks to the caravan of limousines dropping off celebrity guests like Mia Farrow, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson (the best man) to the church. They then had to wade through a battalion of photographers to attend the ceremony.
    When Mariah Carey wed Sony Music boss Tommy Mottola in 1993, she paraded before photographers and onlookers decked out in a poofy Vera Wang ivory silk confection, tailed by a 27-foot train and topped off with a diamond-encrusted tiara, ala Princess Diana. (The comparisons didn't end there. Fifty flower girls tended to her, and she walked down the aisle of New York's St. Thomas Church serenaded by a boys' choir.)
    Marc Anthony and Dayanara Torres, who renewed their vows in San Juan in 2002, held their reception at the Cuartel de Ballaja, a Spanish garrison built in 1854. It's an unusual, if not off-limits, venue for a wedding. But stars on the whole enjoy access to some of the most exclusive locales on the planet for their ceremonies and receptions.
    Castles are a recurring theme. Six of the couples on the list tied the knot in fairy-tale settings. Both Madonna and actress Ashley Judd wed at Scotland's Skibo Castle, now a sporting club. Accommodations cost non-members roughly US$2,200 a day. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes wed at the privately owned Odescalchi Castle in Bracciano, Italy, in November of 2006. Elizabeth Hurley and businessman Arun Nayar wed twice in March, both times in castles. The first ceremony was held in the U.K., at the Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire. A few days later a second, Hindu ceremony occurred at the Uman Bhawan Palace, where suites fetch as much as US$10,000 a night.
    Another popular celebrity wedding destination: the backyard. Tori Spelling wed Charlie Shanian in 2004 at the 56,000-foot Beverly Hills estate of her father, famed TV producer Aaron Spelling. Elton John and David Furnish celebrated their 2005 union at John's Windsor Estate, where guests milled about in two giant tents erected on his lawn. Liz Taylor married Larry Fortensky in 1991 at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch, in Los Olivos, Calif. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston tied the knot in 2000 at the Malibu estate of TV producer Marcy Carsey. Donald Trump and Melania Knauss held their 2005 wedding reception in the Versailles-inspired ballroom of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.
    And proof that like begets like, celebrities often recruit their famous pals for wedding assistance. Madonna enlisted designer Stella McCartney (Paul's daughter) to design her gown; Tom Cruise secured his dear friend Georgio Armani to design Katie Holmes' gowns (there were two). The original celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck catered Tori Spelling's affair. On the menu: herb-crusted rack of lamb. Natalie Cole sang "Unforgettable" at the reception for Liza Minnelli and David Gest; pop-rock band Hootie & the Blowfish performed at Tiger Woods' wedding.
    Even celebrities, however, can't pay for guarantees. Forty per cent of the couples on this list ultimately split--proof, perhaps, that even in Hollywood, money can't buy love.

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    20. Nicole Kidman & Keith Urban

    Estimated cost of the wedding: $250,000
    Actress Nicole Kidman and country star Keith Urban married in June 2006 in Sydney, Australia, at the Cardinal Cerretti Chapel, a Gothic cathedral atop a cliff, which was decorated by hundreds of candles and red flowers. Kidman, who arrived in a cream Rolls Royce limousine, wore a one-shouldered Nicolas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga gown and veil; she carried a white rose bouquet. Among the 200 guests attending the reception were Naomi Watts, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and billionaire Rupert Murdoch. Both Urban and Jackman performed at the event.

    19. Marc Anthony & Dayanara Torres

    Estimated cost of the wedding: $500,000
    Latin crooner Marc Anthony and former Miss Universe Dayanara Torres married in May 2000 in a secret Las Vegas ceremony. They renewed their vows in December 2002 in Puerto Rico with a larger extravaganza. Throngs gathered outside the San Juan Cathedral, where Torres arrived wearing a crystal and pearl-embroidered satin dress by Reem Acra. The 200 guests, including Lance Bass from N'Sync, walked along cobblestone streets to a nearby historic military barracks converted to a reception space. (The pair divorced in 2004.)
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    18. Mariah Carey & Tommy Mottola

    Estimated cost of the wedding: $500,000
    Songbird Mariah Carey wed former Sony Music president Thomas Mottola in June 1993 at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Manhattan's tony Fifth Avenue. Carey wore an off-the-shoulder Vera Wang pale ivory dress with a 27-foot-long train and a Princess Diana-style tiara trailed by an English tulle veil sprinkled with rhinestones. Fifty flower girls flanked the bride. The wedding party and 300 guests then headed for a lavish reception at the Metropolitan Club. Guests included Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand and Robert De Niro. (The couple divorced in 1998.)

    17. Ashley Judd & Dario Franchitti

    Estimated cost of the wedding: $750,000
    Actress Ashley Judd and Scottish race car driver Dario Franchitti married in December 2001 at the Skibo castle in Scotland. Judd wore an open-back satin empire waist gown by Armani with a full-length beaded lace coat, while Dario donned a kilt. The 100 or so guests in attendance included Salma Hayek and Ed Norton, as well as several Formula One race car drivers. Guests partied outside in a giant tent outfitted with industrial heaters.
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    16. David & Victoria Beckham

    Estimated cost of the wedding: $800,000
    Soccer superstar David Beckham wed former Spice Girl Victoria Adams at Luttrellstown Castle near Dublin in July 1999. The duo appeared as king and queen of the evening, sitting on gilded red velvet thrones. "Posh Spice" wore a tight-fitting silk ivory gown with a 20-foot train, accessorized with a gold diamond-encrusted crown. The 250 guests--instructed to wear black or white--were greeted by trumpeters and entertained by Elton John. The night culminated in a fireworks display.

    15. Brad Pitt & Jennifer Aniston

    Estimated cost of the wedding: $1 million
    Hollywood A-listers Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston wed in July 2000 on the Malibu estate of TV producer Marcy Carsey. Among the 200 guests were celebrities Cameron Diaz and Salma Hayek, plus Aniston's Friends co-stars Courtney Cox and David Schwimmer. Aniston wore a Lawrence Steele floor-length white gown, accessorized by suede Manolo Blahnik sandals. Some 50,000 flowers created a "Zen garden look," while candles illuminated the reception tent. The night ended with a fireworks display. (The pair divorced in 2005.)
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    14. Tori Spelling & Charlie Shanian

    Estimated cost of the wedding: $1 million
    TV heiress Tori Spelling wed actor Charlie Shanian in July 2004 at Spelling's parent's 56,000-square-foot Los Angeles mansion. Spelling wore a Badgley Mischka crystal beaded gown accessorized with a veil and a diamond and platinum flower headband inspired by 1920s flapper fashions, in keeping with the wedding's Great Gatsby theme.
    Among the 400 guests were Tori's former 90210 castmates Jason Priestley and Jennie Garth, plus her dad's pals Jackie Collins, Bob Newhart and Ed McMahon. Michael Feinstein performed for the guests, who dined on a Wolfgang Puck-catered dinner. (The pair divorced in 2006.)

    13. Donald Trump & Melania Knauss

    Estimated cost of the wedding: $1 million
    The real estate mogul married model Melania Knauss in January 2005 at the Bethesda by the Sea Episcopalian Church in Palm Beach. Knauss wore a strapless Christian Dior gown made from 300 feet of satin beaded with 1,500 crystals, punctuated by a 13-foot train weighing an estimated 50 pounds. A reception for 400 or so guests, including Rudy Giuliani, Barbara Walters and Regis Philbin, was held at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. Celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten catered the affair. A 36-piece orchestra provided the music.
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    12. Madonna & Guy Ritchie

    Estimated cost of the wedding: $1.5 million
    Pop idol Madonna married film director Guy Ritchie in December 2000 at Scotland's Skibo Castle, where the couple booked all 21 rooms of the estate for guests including Gwyneth Paltrow, Rupert Everett, Sting and Trudie Styler. Madonna wore a strapless cream silk gown by Stella McCartney, accessorized with a 1910 diamond tiara once worn by Princess Grace of Monaco. Ritchie wore a kilt, as did baby Rocco. Madonna's daughter Lourdes led the procession in bare feet. Guests danced the night away in a "basement" converted into a disco.

    11. Pierce Brosnan & Keely Shaye Smith

    Estimated cost of the wedding: $1.5 million
    Former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan wed Keely Shaye Smith, a former television journalist, in August 2001 in Ballintubber Abbey, a 13th-century Irish castle. The reception was held at Ashford Castle, set on the island-dotted shore of Ireland's largest lake. Some 120 guests feasted on a six-tier carrot wedding cake modeled after the one served at the wedding of John F. Kennedy and Jackie Onasis. Word is Smith commissioned an ice sculpture of Rodin's The Kiss as a gift for her husband that day. A fireworks display capped off the evening.
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    10. Eddie Murphy & Nicole Mitchell

    Estimated cost of the wedding: $1.5 million
    Funnyman Eddie Murphy wed model Nicole Mitchell in March of 1993 at New York's famed Plaza Hotel before some 500 guests, including Bruce Willis, Demi Moore and Prince. The Plaza's Grand Ballroom was re-carpeted in white and filled with flowers for the ceremony. The bride wore an off-the-shoulder white gown with French lace, replete with a 12-foot-long train. Guests dined in the Palm Court before moving back to the Grand Ballroom, which during dinner had been converted to a disco. Afterward, Murphy donated the flowers to an area hospital. (The pair divorced in 2006.)


    9. Tiger Woods & Elin Nordegren

    Estimated cost of the wedding: $1.5 million
    Golf great Tiger Woods wed Elin Nordegren in October 2004 in an ultra-secret ceremony at the exclusive Sandy Lane Resort in Barbados. Woods rented the entire hotel and the island's sole helicopter charter company to ensure privacy. Some 120 guests, including basketballers Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, watched as the pair exchanged vows in a white-netted pagoda decorated with roses. The reception featured entertainment by Hootie and the Blowfish. The night was capped off with a massive fireworks display. The couple spent that evening on Woods' yacht.
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    8. Michael Douglas & Catherine Zeta-Jones
    Estimated cost of the wedding: $1.5 million
    Oscar-winning actors Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones tied the knot in November 2000 at New York's famed Plaza Hotel. To prevent crashers, the 250 or so guests--including Sean Connery, Jack Nicholson and Michael Caine--were required to present their hologram-embedded invitations. Zeta-Jones wore a Christian Lacroix gown with antique Chantilly lace, accessorized with a tiara. Entertainment included Simply Red frontman Mick Hucknall and Grammy winner Bonnie Tyler.

    7. Elton John & David Furnish [/B]
    Estimated cost of the wedding: $1.5 million
    Pop legend Elton John wed filmmaker David Furnish in December 2005--the first week that Britain legalized civil unions. The pair exchanged vows and diamond wedding bands at Windsor's Guildhall, where Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles married some eight months earlier. Hundreds of onlookers and paparazzi crowded outside during the ceremony. Over 600 guests arrived at John's Windsor country mansion for the reception, which featured two massive heated tents. Guests drank vintage pink champagne and listened to John serenade Furnish with "Your Song."
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    6. Christina Aguilera & Jordan Bratman

    Estimated cost of the wedding: $2 million
    Pop star Christina Aguilera wed music executive Jordan Bratman in November 2005 at Napa Valley's Staglin Family Vineyard. The couple stayed at a cottage at the Auberge du Soleil, splurging on the $3,500-a-night suite replete with fireplace and outdoor hot tub. Aguilera wore a Spanish-style Christian Lacroix gown before changing into a satin minidress for the reception, attended by some 150 guests, including Sharon Stone. Festivities were held in a winter-themed tent filled with white roses, silver drapery and dangling crystals.


    5. Elizabeth Taylor & Larry Fortensky

    Estimated cost of the wedding: $2 million
    Elizabeth Taylor married construction worker Larry Fortensky, 20 years her junior, in October 1991. It was Taylor's eighth wedding (and her seventh husband--she married Richard Burton twice). The wacky event was held at Michael Jackson's 2,700-acre Neverland Ranch. Jackson gave away the bride, who wore a pale yellow gown by Valentino. Fortensky's best man was Liz's hairdresser, Jose Eber. Among the 150 guests were Liza Minnelli, Eddie Murphy and former first lady Nancy Reagan. All strained to hear the nuptials as a beehive of paparazzi helicopters swarmed overhead. (The pair divorced five years later.)
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    4. Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes
    Estimated cost of the wedding: $2 million
    Actors Tom Cruise and Katie married in November 2006 in Italy's 15th-century Odescalchi Castle outside Rome. Superstar guests included Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, Jennifer Lopez and David and Victoria Beckham. Holmes wore an off-the-shoulder ivory silk gown personally designed by Giorgio Armani. Guests were treated to a five-tiered white chocolate wedding cake covered with marzipan roses. Cruise serenaded Holmes, ala Top Gun, with a rendition of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers.

    3. Elizabeth Hurley & Arun Nayar
    Estimated cost of the wedding: $2.5 million
    Model-actress Elizabeth Hurley wed Indian businessman Arun Nayar in March 2007 in an extravagant double ceremony with festivities spanning eight days. Some 300 guests, including Elton John and designer Valentino, attended the first ceremony, held in the medieval Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire. Hurley wore a traditional chiffon gown designed by good friend Donatella Versace. A second, traditional Hindu ceremony was held in India's majestic Umaid Bhawan Palace, where the palace-view Maharani suit costs upward of $10,000 a night.
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    2. Paul McCartney & Heather Mills

    Estimated cost of the wedding: $3 millio
    Former Beatle Paul McCartney wed model-turned-activist Heather Mills in June 2002 at St. Salvador's Church in Monaghan, Ireland. The bride ascended the altar to "Heather," a song McCartney penned for her. A covered walkway shielded the 300 or so guests, including Ringo Starr, Elton John and Eric Clapton, from the rain as they headed to a lakeside tent for the reception. The Indian-themed party featured dancers in authentic Indian dress and a vegetarian feast. Fireworks capped off the night. (The pair are in the midst of divorcing.)


    1. Liza Minnelli & David Gest

    Estimated cost of the wedding: $3.5 million
    Oscar-winning entertainer Liza Minnelli wed producer David Gest in March 2002 in New York City's Marble Collegiate Church. The over-the-top nuptials featured Best Man Michael Jackson and Maid of Honor Elizabeth Taylor. Among the 500 or so guests at the reception were superstars Diana Ross, Lauren Bacall and Mia Farrow. Backed by a 60-piece orchestra, Tony Bennett entertained VIPs, who feasted on a 12-tier wedding cake and received personalized favors encased in satin candy boxes embossed "Liza and David 4 Ever." (The pair divorced the next year.)
  12. 8/20 are now divorced.

    Star Jones's Wedding = Priceless
  13. Money can't buy love.
  14. ^^true!

    Thanks for posting caitlin! It was a very interesting read.
  15. 3,5$

    Thanks for posting! :smile: