Sausage rolls on silver platters and a $97,000 lemon elderflower cake. Cara McGoogan looks at what Meghan and Harry’s nuptials might cost.

A flurry of flowers worth more than NZ$213,000 scattered down the aisles, piles of sausage rolls on silver platters costing $50,000, and a cool $1.91 million on a counter-drone system. These are just some of the items that may contribute to the $62m estimated price tag for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding.

Wedding planner Bridebook has calculated the soon-to-be newlyweds' big day, in Windsor on Saturday, could earn the couple a place on the list of the top 10 most expensive weddings of all time - ahead of William and Kate's (estimated to have cost $38m). It would be behind Charles and Diana's, though, which is estimated to have cost $162m. Official figures for royal weddings are never released.

Bridebook, which is planning the upcoming marriage between Made in Chelsea stars Millie Mackintosh and Hugo Taylor, says the bulk of the royal costs will be spent on security. Meghan's dress, the flowers, catering and drinks are expected to come in at nearly £1m in total.

But what does a $62m wedding look like?

Advertisement

To start with, the leafy town of Windsor, 38km west of London, will be locked down for the day, with a heavy police presence, crowd control and restrictions placed on shops and restaurants.

Security, which may include snipers, undercover police and military technology such as a counter-drone system, could cost the nation as much as $58m, says Bridebook (though other estimates round it down to nearer $46m).

The security cost is expected to be higher than for William and Kate's wedding - even though theirs was larger, and held in London - due to the ongoing terrorist threat level. Harry's military background as well as the amount of racist comments directed at Meghan is believed to have increased the security quotient.

Which means that, after the event has been locked down, the couple will have a rather modest-looking $3.8m for the wedding.

According to the high-end wedding planners Quintessentially, for this you can still put on a pretty decent bash, complete with luxurious invitations to a beautiful wedding breakfast for 600 guests.

Ralph and Russo is rumoured to be making Meghan's dress.
Ralph and Russo is rumoured to be making Meghan's dress.

BRIDEBOOK'S WEDDING

cost includes $174,000 for 20 silver-plated trumpets that will announce the event, $97,000 on the lemon elderflower cake from Violet Bakery in East London, and $213,000 on flowers to adorn the aisles of St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle and St George's Great Hall, where the first reception will be held.

The glass marquee that will be the centrepiece for the evening reception in the grounds of Frogmore House can cost around $580,000 to hire.

Advertisement

The company says the couple could also be forking out $50,000 on sausage rolls and hot tea for the 2640 members of the public who have been invited into the ground of Windsor for the big day.

One of the biggest costs, according to the company's estimates, will be Meghan's dress, which design firm Ralph and Russo is rumoured to be making and could be worth between $582,000 and $776,000.

But royal expert Katie Nicholl, author of Harry: Life, Loss and Love, says such figures are "wildly inaccurate".

"Meghan is very mindful of wanting to send the right message with her gown," says Nicholl. "It's going to be iconic and fit the backdrop of Windsor Castle, but it would send the wrong message to wear a dress that in cost alone would upstage Kate's."

There's a rumour the Spice Girls will play at the evening party. Photo / Getty Images
There's a rumour the Spice Girls will play at the evening party. Photo / Getty Images

The Duchess of Cambridge wore a Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen dress rumoured to have cost $485,000.

That isn't to say Meghan's dress won't be a spectacle.

"Ralph and Russo are famous for their showstopping, elaborate and incredibly beautiful handmade couture gowns," says Nicholl, adding that it will likely be paired with a tiara on loan from the Queen and an item of jewellery from Diana's personal collection.

Jessica Seal, director of weddings and events at Quintessentially, adds: "As Meghan is quite cool and understated, she might pay in the $116,000 range for her dress."

She is expected to change into a second dress for the evening.

THE BUDGET for Harry and Meghan's big day is a far cry from some of the world's most luxurious weddings. The 2017 marriage of Russian oligarch Aleksey Shapovalov to Ksenia Tsaritsina, in Moscow, was described as one of the most lavish ever, with an eight-tier "floating" cake, a $14.9m, 70-carat diamond ring, two dresses and a performance from Eurovision runner-up Polina Gagarina.

Such extravagance wouldn't be in keeping with what we know about Harry and Meghan.

Mark Niemierko, who has planned weddings attended by royalty, says the couple will probably lean more towards low-key than lavish.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding is said to be cheaper than Charles and Diana's. PHoto / AP
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding is said to be cheaper than Charles and Diana's. PHoto / AP

"I know the royal family, and they don't spend money," says Niemierko.

"Everyone thinks the royals are like the Kardashians, but they're the total opposite.

"They find it crass to be over-the-top."

Aside from the cost of the dress and the wedding security - most likely paid for by the bride's family and the public purse, respectively - Niemierko expects Prince Charles will spend just $970,000 on behalf of the royal pair.

One of the biggest expenses, he says, will be the evening party.

"The dinner-and-dancing part will be the real celebration.

"The Queen will most likely not be present, so everyone can let their hair down and have some fun."

The costs of night-time festivities can easily rack up, he explains.

Lighting, sound and bespoke bar designs are pricey, while small touches, such as mirrorballs, alone have been known to cost $21,000.

The other question is whether a famous musical act is to perform.

A view of St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will have their wedding service.
A view of St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will have their wedding service.

Kate and William held their party in the throne room at Buckingham Palace, converted into a nightclub for the occasion.

This would have cost around $97,000, says Niemierko, while an act such as Ellie Goulding can command about $194,000 for a performance. But, Niemierko anticipates, "they're not going to go mad".

"With Meghan there, I think Harry might toe the line.

"All of his friends are married and William's a father.

"There was a rumour the Spice Girls might play, but that would cost an average Joe a fortune - about $1.9m for each band member."

That said, because of the historic nature of the event - and the global coverage it will receive - the wedding singers would likely drop their price. That goes for dressmakers, florists, caterers and designers.

"The royals get a lot more for their money because people are happy to do things for free," says Niemierko.

So perhaps it won't leave quite such a dent in the families' pockets after all.

What does $62m buy?

$58m: security
$1.91m: counter-drone system
$776,000: Meghan Markle's dress
$580,000: hirage for glass marquee for the evening reception
$213,000: flowers scattered across Windsor Castle
$174,000: 20 silver-plated trumpets to announce the event
$97,000: lemon elderflower wedding cake
$50,000: sausage rolls on silver platters and tea for members of the public invited on to Windsor grounds