It's the event of the year: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are set to tie the knot on May 19th at St George's Chapel, Windsor, in the most anticipated ceremony since... the last royal wedding.
Shortly after the engagement was announced back in November, the royal family confirmed that they'd be fitting the bill for the celebrations. So, how much is the big day expected to cost? Wedding planning website and app Bridebook.co.uk has crunched the numbers to find that the happy couple could spend an estimated £1,969,873 - over 100 times as much as the national average spend of £17,913 - excluding the rumoured £30 million security bill and the honeymoon cost.
For Bridebook.co.uk's founder Hamish Shephard, the wedding 'is the mixing of two incredible two periods. Whilst Harry represents the endless history of the British royal family, Meghan personifies the modern day phenomena of celebrity. Whilst the wedding is being held in a castle following ancient traditions, it will also no doubt break most social media records.'
With 4,040 guests, 17,000 glasses of champagne and an eight-tier banana wedding cake, here's how they broke down the costs...
Harry and Meghan didn’t have to undergo the usual search for the perfect wedding venue: when your grandmother is the Queen, after all, you have an unrivalled array of properties at your disposal. The couple are set to tie the knot at the 800-capacity St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, with the reception thought to take place at St George’s Great Hall and then in an outdoor marquee in the Upper Ward grounds of the castle. According to Bridebook, a luxury glass marquee (much like the one Pippa Middleton used for her wedding to James Matthews last year) will cost £300,000, with an additional £50,000 for catering, security and staff adjoining marquees.
According to Bridebook's experts, this could prove one of the most costly aspects of Harry and Meghan's celebrations. First, there's the formal reception for state guests, then a dinner for close family and friends. Per Bridebook, a luxury caterer would charge at least £100 per guest for lunch, then £300 per guest for dinner. Then there's the 2,640 members of the public who've been invited along to watch from the grounds, who could be given drinks and snacks.
On the day, drinks are most likely to come from the Palace cellars. Bridebook suggest that one glass of champagne is served for every 30 minutes of the reception, with half a bottle per guest per meal: with the couple's extensive guest list, they could lay on at least 2,300 bottles to meet this demand. If, according to the site, they opt for Bollinger, the royal family's favourite champagne, they could spend around £136,000 on champagne alone. Throw in some Tignanello wine to keep Meghan happy (RIP The Tig) and the costs keep getting higher. No word yet on whether Harry's ordered in the treasure chests from Mahiki...
Reports on the estimated cost of Meghan's dress vary widely, ranging anything from £150,000 up to £400,000, and Bridebook have set their estimates at the higher end of the spectrum: £300,000 for a completely bespoke wedding dress. There's always a chance, too, that Meghan will chose another custom style for the evening reception (just like her future sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, did on her wedding day), which could double the cost again.
According to Bridebook, 'floristry is often much more costly than expected, and with at least two locations for the day, it will also be one of the heftiest costs for the couple.' Flowers for the marquee alone could cost around £70,000, with the church costing an additional £40,000. For their 2011 wedding, William and Kate used seasonal, British flowers, and we can surely expected Harry and Meghan to follow suit.
Photography and videography: £17,000
Dorset-based photographer Millie Pilkington, who photographed William and Kate's wedding as well as that of the latter's sister, Pippa, is likely to be documenting the occasion on film, as is Hugo Burnand. While the wedding will be broadcast live on television for the world to see, it's likely that Harry and Meghan will have a personal videography team - and maybe even a drone or two.
The cake will need to have at least 8 tiers to provide a slice for each of the 800 guests, while the addition of fresh fruit will only add to the price (it's already been rumoured that the couple are favouring a banana cake...) As for the cakemaker of choice, our money should be on Fiona Cairns (who created the Cambridges' rumoured £80,000 wedding cake back in 2011) or Rosamund Miller, according to Bridebook.
From save-the-dates to invites to the Order of Service, the cost for stationery can quickly add up. Bear in mind, though, that Meghan used to moonlight as a professional calligraphist for A-list weddings, meaning that this is one element she'd be more than qualified to DIY.
William and Kate had Ellie Goulding sing 'Your Song' for their first dance, and it's been rumoured that everyone from the Spice Girls to Ed Sheeran to Elton John could perform on Harry and Meghan's big day. Whoever gets the top job, they certainly won't come cheap.
Yes, really: every royal event needs a trumpet fanfare. The Ministry of Defence has reportedly requested 20 silver-plated fanfare trumpets stamped with the Royal Coat of Arms. Per Bridebook, they'll be made in the same workshop as those used for the Olympics and for William and Kate's wedding, costing between £3,000 and £6,000. We said this was no ordinary wedding...
Decoration and production: £130,000
Lighting and production will make this a world-class event, necessitating the services of a top production agency.
Wedding rings: £6,000
Tradition dating back to 1923 suggests that the rings will be fashioned from a nugget of Welsh gold. While Prince Philip and Prince William do not wear wedding rings, Bridebook reckon that Harry will buck the trend with a gold band, predicting that 'Harry will choose to wear a band on his fourth finger, proving again that he is intent on doing things his own way.'
Bridesmaids outfits: £5,000
A designer bridesmaid dress can cost on average £1,000 each. While the Duchess of Cambridge had just one adult bridesmaid - her maid of honour, Pippa - Meghan might opt for more, as a nod to US wedding traditions.
Flower girl and page boy outfits: £,1968
Nicki Macfarlane created outfits for flower girls and page boys at the royal wedding in 2011, so expect to see Prince George and Princess Charlotte in her designs, which cost up to £340 each.
Church fees: £175
Like any other couple, Harry and Meghan will need to pay for use of the chapel at Windsor. This will doubtless prove one of the cheapest aspects of the big day - but it's certainly one of the most important.
It's likely that Prince Harry will wear an RAF uniform on his wedding day - just like his older brother - as he is a qualified Apache Helicopter Commander.
Hair and make-up: £10,000
Two words: glam squad. Meghan is reported to favour Neville Hair and Beauty in Belgravia (which has also been frequented by Kate), while Richard Ward (who styled Kate and Pippa's hair back in 2011) could be another contender. There's also Amanda Cook-Tucker, who works with the Duchess of Cambridge on a regular basis.
Bridebook reckon upon the RAF taking part in a wedding day spectacle, with a photobooth and children's entertainers among the other more conventional entertainment options. Plus, expect to see fireworks over Windsor on the night...
Wedding favours: £3,000
If Meghan's guide to hosting is anything to go by, expect something that's handmade and personal.
Not exactly glamorous, we know, but luxury toilet rental for 800 guests - plus the 2,640 members of the public gathered in the grounds of Windsor Castle - will certainly prove pricy...
If we've learned anything from The Crown, it's that the royals have an extensive state fleet at their disposal. Surely Harry can call upon Granny for a Rolls-Royce or three on his big day - and he might even borrow Charles' Aston Martin Volante DB6 to drive from the church to the reception, like his brother.
Bridebook's honeymoon experts predict that Harry and Meghan might break with tradition when it comes to the honeymoon, escaping ahead of the wedding then holidaying with 'a group of party-loving friends [...] to celebrate afterwards, either on safari in Africa or to long-standing friend Sam Branson's private Caribbean island, Neckar.' Sources have reported that Meghan will be footing the bill as a wedding gift to her new husband.
Security: a bonus £30 million
Security for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's nuptials cost a massive £30 million, and while Harry and Meghan's ceremony won't be taking place in central London, it'll still pose a major risk, necessitating rooftop snipers, undercover police and the latest military technology, plus an anti-paparazzi system that'll ward off rogue drones, too.
To read the report in full, head to bridebook.co.uk
NOW READ: Prince Harry And Meghan Markle's Relationship Timeline
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle met in London in July 2016.
They were introduced by mutual friend Markus Anderson, who is the director of Soho House.
In October 2016, the Express became the first newspaper to publish news that Prince Harry had a new girlfriend.
On November 8th 2016, Kensington Palace released an unprecedented statement which referring to Markle as Harry's girlfriend for the first time.
In the statement, Prince Harry condemned the 'wave of abuse and harrassment' faced by Markle, saying that he was 'worried about Ms. Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her.'
'It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm,' the statement continued.
The couple were papped together for the first time in December 2016, shopping for a Christmas tree in London at the Pines and Needles store.
Later that week, they were seen on London's West End, catching a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
In February, Prince Harry wore a his 'n' hers bracelet on the cover of Town & Country magazine, just weeks after Markle was pictured wearing the same one on Instagram.
In March 2017, Meghan joined Prince Harry in the Caribbean for the wedding of his friend's Tom 'Skippy' Inskip and Lara Hughes-Young.
It was the first time that Markle accompanied Harry to a wedding, marking another milestone occasion for the couple.
The first public event attended by the couple was the polo at Coworth Park in May 2017.
Later in May, Markle attended the party portion of Pippa Middleton's wedding to James Middelton.
Prince Harry was seen driving her to the event after the church ceremony.
The couple made their first official public appearance in September, when Markle attended the opening of Prince Harry's Invictus Games.
Meghan wore a maroon midi dress with a pleated chiffon skirt by one of her favourite Canadian brands Aritzia.
She teamed it with a matching burgundy biker jacket by Mackage.
Although Prince Harry was sat next to First Lady Melania Trump at the event, rather than his girlfriend, she was only seated a few rows behind him.
The couple were photographed together the following day at the wheelchair tennis.
Much was made of Markle's choice of outfit: ripped jeans and a white blouse called 'The Husband'.
The couple 'broke with royal protocol' by holding hands and appearing affectionate while at the Invictus Games.
Prince Harry reportedly spent time with Meghan's mother Doria while at the Games too.
The couple indulged in some PDA at the closing ceremony.
Prince Harry was photographed kissing Meghan.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Meghan referred to Harry as her boyfriend numerous times, saying: 'We're a couple. We're in love. I'm sure there will be a time when we will have to come forward and present ourselves and have stories to tell, but I hope what people understand is that this is our time.'
In late September 2017, it was reported that Meghan had met the Queen, prompting speculation that the relationship was getting serious.
In early November 2017, it was reported that Meghan Markle was leaving Suits after seven series.
In mid-November 2017, bookies suspending betting on an impending royal engagement, as speculation grew that an announcement was about to be made.
On November 27th 2017, Prince Charles announced the engagement of his younger son Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after 15 months of dating.
The couple later appeared at a photocall, with Markle wearing a white dress coat by Canadian brand Line The Label. The website has subsequently crashed.
The engagement ring, by Cleave and Company, was reportedly designed by Prince Harry himself, using two stones that belonged to Princess Diana.
When asked by waiting photographers if the proposal was romantic, Harry joked 'of course!'