The Langham Hotel in Chicago recently introduced an “ultimate luxury wedding package,” priced at $500,000 — which includes hotel rooms for 32 guests, ceremony and reception for 200, pre- and post-nuptial events, a $15,000 wedding gown, an $8,000-per-night presidential suite for the bride and groom plus more.
No takers yet, but it’s just a matter of time.
While the marriage rate has gone down dramatically (from 9.8% in 1990 to 6.74% in 2015), the price tag has gone up in equal measure.
Nationally, the average wedding in 2019 is estimated to cost $29,858 — higher for: Manhattan ($88,170), Metro Chicago ($49,151) and Los Angeles ($36,745).
Everything about weddings is more elaborate than it was in 1964 when Jack and I got married. We never heard of destination weddings, bachelor and bachelorette parties, wedding hashtags or the purchase of two wedding gowns. (FYI, the latter is a new trend that saves the bride the humiliation of showing up at the reception in the same old thing.)
Jack and I were married at noon on a Sunday, followed by a luncheon at a lovely French restaurant. My parents planned it and paid for it. Jack and I had virtually no say in any of the arrangements.
I do think it’s somewhat ironic that weddings have become more lavish and costly at a time when the bride and groom are older, already share a home, often have one or more children and own all the dishes, glassware, pasta makers and garlic presses they’ll ever need.
And, of course, a big, fancy wedding is no guarantee the marriage won’t end in tabloid tragedy.
Delphine Arnault, heiress to the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy empire, married Alessandro Vallarino Gancia, heir to a dynasty of Italian winemakers, in a $7 million celebration billed as the “wedding of the year” in September 2005. The couple divorced five years later.
Liza Minnelli’s fourth marriage, in 2002, to David Gest featured a 12-tier cake, a 60-piece orchestra and a wedding party starring Elizabeth Taylor as matron of honor and Michael Jackson as best man. Presumably, the $3.5 million invoice was paid in full prior to the divorce a year later.
Actor/model Elizabeth Hurley’s eight-day wedding to Arun Nayar, an Indian businessman, began in a 15th century British castle and then moved to a palace in Jodhpur, India. The cost: $7 million. Length of marriage: four years.
The marriage of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries lasted only 72 days despite the $6 million price tag, which included a $2.5 million diamond headpiece and three different Vera Wang dresses. Kim’s next marriage to Kanye West was a bargain at $2.8 million but appears to be doing better.
I don’t think the price of a wedding can predict the success a marriage, but perhaps shelling out all that money would be more palatable if it could be amortized over a lifetime.
Come to think of it, the Langham Hotel might be more successful selling its $500,000 wedding if it offered a money-back guarantee. Please comment here.