The average Australian wedding now costs $65,000, according to recent studies… but these are certainly not your average weddings.
For some, no expense is spared on the most important day of their lives – and what most couples spend on the whole day will barely cover the cost of groom’s tuxedo.
Where the budget for flowers alone is $1 million, brides buy multiple designers gowns to change into throughout the day, and the cakes are so enormous the bride and groom have to climb a ladder to cut them.
As a former wedding planner and now editor of Australian online weddings publisher Wedded Wonderland, Wendy El Khoury has witnessed some of the most extravagant nuptials in the world.
With exclusive wedding stylists, florists, and designers in her little black book, she is also privy to the decadent and, at times, diva demands of the world’s wealthiest brides.
‘From Arabian Royalty, Hollywood starlets, to Asian tycoons, weddings are big business and no expense is spared,’ El Khoury told Daily Mail Australia. ‘Diamond-encrusted favours and florals that have the same price tag as an inner-city apartment, we’ve seen it all.
As the mega-rich try to outdo each other, their requests can become more and more outlandish. ‘There’s been requests for a monkey ring bearer and a baby elephant at the reception and we’ve had wedding gowns that weigh upwards of 30 kilograms,’ she said.
‘It’s now normal for a bride to have two designer dresses for her wedding. Whether they’re from Steven Khalil or J’Aton, brides have one gown for the ceremony and one for the reception.’
ut two is only the norm. Wendy knows of a bride in Nigeria who requested no less than five couture Elie Saab gowns to choose from on her big day.
‘Celebrity florist, Karen Tran, styled a wedding for Vietnamese royalty where the budget for flowers was $1 million,’ Wendy revealed.
Wedded Wonderland have featured some of the most opulent weddings around the world, from a 1,000-guest reception in Beirut to a Beverly Hills party where the bride’s favourite flowers were flown in from Holland.
ALI AND LANA, BEIRUT
‘From Lana’s Elie Saab Couture gown to the phenomenal Louis Vuitton-inspired floral Ferris wheels which towered inside their reception venue, this wedding was jaw-dropping.
‘The couple exchanged their vows at the bride’s parents’ house in the South of Lebanon, before making a grand entrance to their reception, which was held at BIEL – one of Beirut’s biggest venue halls.
‘Adorned from top to bottom with real, white orchids on all four walls, LED lights and plasma screens, the reception was transformed into a romantic fairy-tale for their 1,060 guests.’
LARINA AND BEN, NEW YORK
‘Held in a grand New York space filled with high ceilings, trompe l’oeil paintings, gilt-edged mouldings and antique chandeliers, Larina and Ben’s big day was a celebration attended by 170 of their closest friends and family.
‘Dressed in a couture Inbal Dror gown and Jimmy Choo shoes, Larina had 10 bridesmaids by her side.
‘The reception was an opulently styled with resplendent table settings, gold-gilded crockery, antique lace linens and spectacular arrangements of white, cream and pale pink roses.’
SANDY AND ROD, SYDNEY
‘Sandy and Rod entrusted renowned Australian stylist, Jason James Design to provide the creative direction for this spectacular wedding. Held at Sydney University, the reception came complete with a custom designed 12-metre truss structure positioned over the bridal table featuring cascading ferns, roses in oranges, pinks and reds and hydrangea accents.
‘A mass of green trees created a rain forest effect at the back of the venue and terracotta hexagonal tiles, hand-painted table numbers and hand-written tags in custom calligraphy were attached to pears adorning the tables.
‘The wedding cake consisted of three bespoke hand-painted cakes, each embellished with individual gold leaf geometric shapes.’
BRITTANY AND JUSTIN, LAKE COMO
‘This wedding was the ultimate in intimate luxury, held at a private villa in Lenno, Italy where the only access is via boat.
‘Brittany and Justin held a three-day celebration for their guests, which included a fresh pasta tasting session.
‘The bride donned an Inbal Dror gown and took her vows to the backdrop of manicured gardens and Lake Como.’