Even though it was exactly what we wanted, our wedding was not exactly a five-star affair. I’m guessing many of you can relate.
A friend of a co-worker made our wedding cake. Our ceremony was in the backyard of my office building. An uncle served as our photographer for the day. It was all quite lovely, and I have no regrets that we didn’t spend the $25,000 to $30,000 U.S. couples pay on average for their weddings.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not intrigued by watching women on Say Yes to the Dress spend $34,000 on a custom-designed gown without batting an eye. It’s fun peeking into another world — one I have no interest in being a part of, but that’s fascinating nonetheless.
If you have similar voyeuristic tendencies, here are 13 more ridiculous and extravagant wedding expenditures to boggle your mind — some from celebs you’d expect to spend a fortune, and others from everyday couples who just felt the expense was worth it for their big day.
1. A 16th-Century Fortress ($409,000+)
Of course we have to kick off this list with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.
Their wedding budget included many insane items, but the cost of their venue tops the list. For $409,000, Kimye rented a 16th-century fortress overlooking Florence.
And that’s just the cost for the space itself; they also had to pay for construction work, lighting and other upgrades to make the place event-ready.
2. A Rain-Free Day ($113,000)
What if you could ensure not a drop of rain would fall on your big day? If you’re planning an outdoor wedding in France, Oliver’s Travels can help you do just that.
They offer a “cloud bursting” service they claim “can 100% guarantee fair weather and clear skies for your wedding day.” Their guarantee had better be that strong, because the service costs £100,000 (around $113,000).
3. A Dress That Weighs as Much as a Small Child ($100,000)
For Donald Trump’s latest wedding, the bride wore a Christian Dior dress worth $100,000 — and the Donald certainly got his money’s worth.
The gown had nearly 300 feet of material (including a 13-foot train) and 1,500 crystal rhinestones and pearls — and it weighed around 50 lbs. It was so wide and heavy that when the bride needed to sit down (which I imagine was often), she had to sit on a bench instead of a chair.
4. Shoes That Would Make Carrie Bradshaw Jealous ($645)
On TheKnot.com, user “PGY4” confessed to splurging on a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes, which she says she does not regret. She feels she got the ROI she wanted from them, on her big day and for years to come.
“They cost almost as much as my wedding dress (they cost $645, and I bought my dress at a Kleinfeld’s sample sale for $700),” she said. “I loved wearing them, and I plan on wearing them every year when we celebrate our wedding anniversary.”
5. Your Own Social Media Coordinator ($3,000)
In 2014, W Hotels in New York City introduced a new Social Media Wedding Concierge service. For $3,000, your concierge would take care of vital tasks like live-tweeting your ceremony and reception, creating a unique hashtag for your wedding and producing a “Shutterfly book with social media highlights from the planning process and a collage of the best tweets and Instagrams sent during the wedding.”
For once, the media reaction over a ridiculous wedding expense was not adoring. The service is no longer available.
6. A Life-Size Cake Version of You (Cost Unknown)
No, this one wasn’t a celebrity splurge. A Texas woman named Chidi Ogbuta had always wanted a doll that looked like her growing up, and apparently a wedding-cake clone was the next best thing.
Ogbuta and her husband haven’t disclosed the cost of this confection, but it took two chefs, 200 eggs and five weeks to make this five-foot-tall, 400-pound cake. So I’ll leave the final price to your imagination.
7. Lots and Lots of Flowers ($500,000 to $800,000)
Donald Trump and Melania Knauss-Trump’s wedding also featured 10,000 all-white roses, peonies and hydrangeas (the bride’s favorite) for a price tag of around $500,000. Chelsea Clinton also spent $500,000 on flowers for her big day. Kate and William (no last names required) enjoyed $800,000 worth of florals.
None of these flowers, as far as I can ascertain, lasted any longer than regular flowers tend to last after a wedding.
8. Celebrity Entertainment ($3,165,000)
At the high society wedding of Petra Ecclestone and James Stunt, guests were treated to performances by The Black Eyed Peas, David Guetta and Andrea Bocelli for a combined cost of around $3 million.
The wedding also featured fireworks, which cost around $165,000. You know, just in case the famous performers weren’t enough.
9. Bridalplasty ($500 to $4,500)
There’s a lot of pressure on brides to look perfect on their wedding days, so it’s probably no surprise that more and more brides are opting for pre-wedding plastic surgery. Some are even so generous as to host bridal Botox parties for their whole crews.
Alice Lillie spent £4,200 on a pre-wedding nose job, which she paid for by ravaging her savings account and putting the rest on credit. Yet she says it was worth it: “As I posed for photo after photo, feeling relaxed and happy, I knew the surgery had been vital to my confidence.”
10. Engagement Selfie Hand Treatments ($300 to $3,000)
What’s one of the first things a newly engaged bride-to-be often does? She snaps a pic of her new ring on her hand and shares it with her social media followers.
In following this new tradition, women are noticing things like sunspots, rough skin and veins they don’t like the looks of. Which means — you guessed it — more cosmetic procedures.
From microdermabrasions to chemical peel treatments, brides-to-be are shelling out anywhere from $300 to $3,000 to get their hands in tip-top shape for what amounts to 15 seconds of online fame.
11. Swag-Level Favors ($125,000)
Kim and Kanye reportedly spent $125,000 on favor packages for their guests, which included $500 bottles of champagne, luxury skincare products and perfume, $250 vouchers for the hotel’s spa and, of course, handmade souvenirs featuring Swarovski crystals and their initials.
Makes those wine stoppers you handed out at your wedding seem kinda ho-hum, huh?
12. Outdoor Air-Conditioning ($600,000)
An outdoor wedding is lovely, but things can get a little icky on the dance floor in summer temperatures. That’s why Chelsea Clinton shelled out $600,000 for air-conditioned tents for her wedding guests.
(One certain sign of extravagance? Being able to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors without actually having to feel like you’re outdoors.)
13. Luxury Porta-Potties ($1,000 to $4,500)
Don’t want your outdoor wedding guests to have to cram their expensively attired selves into gross portable toilets? That’s where luxury restroom trailers like the Presidential Limited Trailer come into play. With an AM/FM CD player, climate control, hands-free faucets and more, these trailers feel like restrooms from a five-star hotel.
I once attended a wedding that featured one of these beauties, which boasted marble countertops and automatic air fresheners, and I have to admit, I wanted to spend more time in the restroom than the actual venue because the restroom seemed so much posher.
The Flip Side to All This Opulence
In addition to the idea of spending these amounts of money on a single day, there’s another reason to keep your wedding budget to a minimum.
Women who spent more than $20,000 on their weddings were 60% more likely to get divorced than those whose budget was more affordable, according to recent research. Similarly, men who spent $2,000 to $4,000 on an engagement ring were 30% more likely to get divorced than those who spent $500 to $2,000.
My engagement ring was an heirloom from my grandmother, which my husband spent all of $20 to have resized. He still brags about it. Now it seems he has extra reason to.
Your Turn: How do you feel about extravagant weddings? Do you secretly wish you could have a big blowout, or are you happy keeping things simple?
Kelly Gurnett is a freelance blogger, writer and editor who runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.