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Most expensive weddings: ‘I do’ in style

July 08, 2012

Marriage may be a universal institution but every bride (and her mother) wants her wedding day to be absolutely unique and one-of-a-kind. Combine this desire with truckloads of money and, voila, you can have an extravaganza worthy of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and his bride Princess Salama in 1981. Not satisfied with any of the available venues — perhaps none was large enough for the guest list that topped 20,000 people — the prince’s father ordered a custom-made stadium to be built for the duration of the wedding.

The prince toured his kingdom on horseback, distributing largess to the population in the best royal tradition, and the bride’s gifts were delivered by 20 jewel-decked camels. The groom may have been too stiff after all that horseback riding to enjoy the day (or night) but according to Forbes, with a price tag of $100 million (adjusted for inflation) the event still holds the title of the Most Expensive Wedding in the Guinness Book of World Records.

On the other hand, royals across the Atlantic don’t always go for the ostentatious — in fact, at times, their subjects have even chipped in to help with the arrangements. Girl Guides Australia donated the ingredients for Queen Elizabeth’s wedding cake at a time when England was facing severe war shortages; and when the people learnt that their queen was saving ration coupons to buy material for her gown, they rushed to send her their own coupons — which she kindly returned.

But things were a lot different 30 years down the road when her son married the fairytale princess. Far from a ration coupon gown, Lady Diana’s dress was a fantasy in taffeta, silk, tulle and antique lace. At a cool 9,000 pounds, the dress was encrusted with 10,000 pearls and trailed a 25-foot long train. In fact, one might be tempted to say that the train went on almost longer than the marriage.

Of course, you don’t have to be royalty to make an over the top statement. When Vanisha, business tycoon Lakshmi Mittal’s daughter got married, the invitations were delivered in real silver boxes (and included plane tickets and hotel accommodation). Giorgio Armani designed dresses for the entire bridal party and the reception was held at a Chateau in Versailles, France. Another cross-continental celebration would be that of Arun Nayar and Elizabeth Hurley where the party kicked off at a castle in Gloucestershire, England and wound up in a palace in Jodhpur, India, with guests being carried across in private jets.

For those who have the money but lack imagination, a popular celebrity on the guest list will add all the necessary razzmatazz. The host will of course, have to pay a hefty fee for this ‘guest appearance’ but a mere $750,000 is a small price to pay for the privilege of having Shahrukh Khan drop by at their wedding (and even pose for some pictures).

Of course, if you want your wedding to be your own special day rather than a scoop for a gossip magazine, perhaps you should skip the celebrity, the 100-dish menu and the fancy invitations; just focus on what makes you happy and you will be set for your own ‘happily ever after.’