Comparing the Royal Wedding’s Budget to the Average American Wedding

COMMENTARY | So with the royal wedding less than 24 hours away and trying to work out my own wedding budget, it made me wonder what exactly went into the royal budget and how much different it was from the average American wedding’s cost. Someone else put together a very, very basic breakdown of cost by comparing the royal wedding to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding, then to the average American wedding.

So for the overview budget, Kate Middleton and Prince William will have spent a whopping $32 million. To put this into some more perspective, the Clintons dropped only a tenth of that amount on their own “princess” and, in America, the typical “Daddy’s girl princess” spends approximately $27,000 — less than one one-hundredth of the royal wedding’s cost. Already I’m starting to feel like I’m not prepared to spend enough on my own wedding.

Going a little more in depth, next we’ll look at the cost of the cake. Based on my research around Pittsburgh, Penn., prices tend to run from $1.50 to $3 a slice for some really impressive-looking and -tasting cakes. So, going with the highest price, and my relatively large guest list (250 people), I’d be looking at paying around $750. Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor.

This is actually considered over the average price for a wedding cake in the United States, so I’ll definitely keep looking to find a cake a little cheaper. The royals will be dropping somewhere around $80,000. Divide that among the 300 guests, and you’re looking at $266 slices of cake. Yikes! That better be the most incredibly moist and delicious cake ever.

Middleton’s dress will cost somewhere in the ballpark of $434,000. The average American “princess” will spend just a little over $1,000. I personally spent just under $700 on mine (after taxes), and I’m darn proud of that because I managed to get a designer gown. I can only imagine what the average price will be of the royal wedding knock-off dresses that we can expect to start seeing in droves next month.

An astounding $800,000 will be spent on just the flowers for the big day. This is just shy of half of what was spent for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. But the average American bride will spend a little less than $2,000 for her flowers. It makes me wonder what the exact price of Kate’s bouquet (which will be left on the tomb of the unknown soldier) will be. I’m planning to try to spend not a penny more than $100 for my own bouquet if at all possible.

The engagement ring actually falls significantly lower than an American celebrity’s ring. Chelsea’s engagement ring cost a whopping $1 million, whereas Diana’s ring, which was passed on to Middleton, is valued at $136,000. Still, this is a lot more than the average American’s engagement ring, which clocks in somewhere around $5,000. Out of respect for my fiance, I won’t reveal how much mine is worth. But for most of us girls, we care more about the thought our men put into the ring than how much it cost. It means so much to me that my fiance had mine specially designed and kept in mind that I wanted a flat ring.

Next up are the wedding favors. There’s no exact price that’s been listed, but the customized scarves that will be given out to the guests are made by a company, Centrex of Ludhiana, India, that at the high end makes scarves valued at 300 pounds (~$500). Since these are custom scarves which will be offered in three different color schemes, I feel like this is probably a safe bet on the pricing.

Considering that most American brides aim to spend as little as possible on their favors, I’d say that this is at least a hundred times more than the average favor price. In fact, I’m having my mom crochet small seashells as favors for minimal cost (before the manual labor, of course) and having a photobooth with the money saved on favors.

As for what will be served during the toasts, the royals will be serving $45 bottles of Pol Roger champagne. This is actually a lot less than some would have suspected, considering that a good bottle of Dom Perignon can cost around $400 per bottle. At my wedding, we’re planning on serving either hard liquor or wine, but either way you can easily get a good bottle for anywhere between $20 and $30.

But all of these costs broken down don’t even come close to the cost on the British economy. The royal wedding will more or less shut down the country for a day. Estimates have been made that the national holiday could cost the country $10 billion (which is the low estimate; the high estimate being $50 billion). Impressive considering that the average American wedding does nothing but boost local economies by putting vendors and their employees to work. That and our guests are so widespread throughout the region and businesses that even if they need to take a day or two off to attend the wedding (or merely recover from their hangover), it would do no great harm to the economy. Granted, they have also calculated how much the wedding will help the economy with a surplus of around $1.5 billion from the sales of memorabilia.

So the next time you and your family or fiance get into a fight over the wedding budget, try to keep in mind that it could be worse — or better, depending on how you want to think about it.