Weddings are simple affairs, humble ceremonies to mark the union of a man and a woman (or a woman and a woman, a man and a man or even a human and a favoured electrical appliance, depending on which postcode district you reside in). They are about soul reaching out to soul and two becoming one, with no need for ostentation or overly-indulgent fripperies, right? Wrong.
It’s all about putting on the most extravagant, self-consciously expensive cavalcade of vaguely nuptial-related narcissism it’s possible to imagine. Sceptical? A quick canter through the Special Days of a couple of past masters and mistresses of the art of wanton wedding-day mega-displays will provide apt testimony…
Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra
The disparate worlds of Bollywood and Hollywood collided in spectacular fashion when Nick Jonas, the much-loved US singer, married Priyanka Chopra, one of India’s most popular actresses, at the tail end of last year. As befitting such a union of countries and cultures, the three-day celebrations proved just the perfect blend of East-meets-West.
Charitably, the couple flew out hundreds of their nearest and dearest to the five-star Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur in northwestern India for the festivities, which included a mass mehendi (a traditional ceremony where female relatives and friends on both sides gather as the bride has her hands and feet hennaed), a sangeet (an all-singing and all-dancing musical extravaganza), a traditional Indian marriage ceremony and a more conventional Western wedding ceremony.
While the Quantico actress donned several gowns throughout the course of the weekend, the most stunning was undoubtedly the custom Ralph Lauren creation she wore for the Western ceremony. This gorgeous hand-beaded and hand-embroidered ensemble took a staggering 1,826 hours to complete, with the column dress beneath the embroidered layer boasting some 2.38 million mother-of-pearl sequins. Custom Jimmy Choo shoes and a 75ft veil – which required the support of six aides as she strode down the aisle – completed this most memorable of looks.
Angelababy and Huang Xiaoming
When the outrageously famous Chinese actress-singer Angela Yeung – known to her fans as Angelababy – wed fellow thesp Huang Xiaoming a few years back, the elaborate affair snared headlines the world over, not least because of its phenomenal price tag – a cool US$31 million.
Reinforcing the notion that bigger is always better, Angelababy’s ring – the Joséphine Aigrette Impériale by Chaumet, featuring a massive five-carat pear-shaped diamond – cost US$1.5 million on its own. Her bespoke Dior wedding gown, meanwhile, was crafted from 165ft of tulle and 115ft of ivory satin organza and required five months of painstaking craftsmanship to complete.
The ceremony itself – which was streamed live online – was no less extravagant, with tens of thousands of roses adorning the extensive venue. In all, more than 2,000 guests, including many of the country’s mega-celebs, descended upon the Shanghai Exhibition Centre for the occasion, with the event further enhanced by a holographically-projected castle, climaxing with the ceremonial slicing of a 10ft multi-tiered carousel-esque wedding cake.
Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal
When your father is Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man – with a fortune conservatively estimated to be well over the US$56 billion mark – it’s pretty much taken as read that your wedding day is going to the stuff of legend. So, when Isha Ambani, Mukesh’s only daughter, wed Anand Piramal – the son of a rival Indian billionaire – back in December 2018, it was no surprise that it aspired to be the wedding of not just the decade, but pretty much every decade. From the off, the much-coveted invitations set the tone. Rumoured to be valued at US$4,000 each, this particular save-the-day came in a two-tier floral box stuffed to the gunwales with jewellery and precious stones.
The week-long festivities then commenced with guests being flown via one of a fleet of 40 chartered jets to the 18th-century Udaipur City Palace for a pre-wedding ceremony, which included special performance from the ultimate R&B diva, Beyoncé, as well as special dance numbers from some of Bollywood’s biggest names. Hillary Clinton, former US Secretary of State, John Kerry and former Indian president Pranab Mukherjee were among those who got to see such moves up close and personal.
The actual wedding ceremony – held on 12 December – proved a more intimate affair. Hosted at the family’s sumptuous 27-storey Mumbai home, the guest list was pruned to just 600 attendees. The final estimated cost of the entire elaborate affair? An international poverty-alleviating US$100 million, a sum that ensures that it still rejoices in the title of The Craziest Rich Asian Wedding.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
When Prince Harry, grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, announced his impending nuptials to Meghan Markle, an American actress, it predictably sent the monarchy-mad around the world into royal wedding fever overdrive. Ultimately the Duke and Duchess of Sussex-to-be did their ‘I do’s at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle in front of some 600 specially-invited guests, including the obligatory members of the British Royal Family, and sundry international A-listers like Oprah Winfrey, George and Amal Clooney and Priyanka Chopra.
In keeping with tradition, the focus was very much on the bride, who opted for a stunning US$508,000 Claire Waight Keller for Givenchy gown as a more-than-suitable attire for ascension to the aristocracy. Her 16 ft veil , meanwhile, came embroidered with flowers from each of the 53 Commonwealth countries, all held in place courtesy of a diamond bandeau tiara once owned by Queen Mary, Prince Harry’s great-grandmother.
In all, the final bill was said to be in the region of £32 million (US$41.85 million) – a whopping £8 million more than even the wedding of Prince William, Harry’s elder brother and Kate Middleton back in 2011 – making this fairy tale-esque affair truly the Royal Wedding of the Decade.
Text: Tenzing Thondup
Photos: AFP, ImagineChina