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A Modest Little Affair: Breaking Down the Details of Harry and Meghan's Wedding Budget

By Motley Fool Staff - Updated May 28, 2018 at 12:11PM

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She was going to be a princess, and her grandmother-in-law is worth a half-billion dollars. Why shouldn’t she have worn a dress that cost as much as a house?

Love was in the air just west of London last weekend -- love and another scent (sniff, sniff)... oh, yes, that's the smell of money being spent in truly regal quantities.

In the "What's Up, Allison" segment from this episode of Motley Fool Answers, Robert Brokamp and Alison Southwick consider just how Prince Harry and Meghan Markle spent their way to a multimillion-pound wedding -- it was a magnificent spectacle and worth every shilling. They also look into how much the royal nuptials boosted England's economy. Maybe that extravagance paid for itself in more ways than one.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on May 22, 2018.

Robert Brokamp: So, Alison, what's up?

Alison Southwick: Hey, that's right. I'm the person who's what's up today, not Bro. It's exciting!

Brokamp: It is!

Southwick: So, Bro, two people got married this weekend [maybe you heard] and now that we're all done partying, it's time to take a look at the cheque, by which I mean, of course, Harry and Meghan Markle.

Brokamp: Yes. And cheque is spelled with a "que" at the end, I suppose.

Southwick: Absolutely.

Brokamp: That's right.

Southwick: According to the England-based luxury wedding planner, Aimee Dunne, a woman most qualified to make outrageous guesses, the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will end up costing £2 million, which is roughly $2.7 million. Let's break it down, shall we?

Brokamp: Let's do that.

Southwick: Well, they're having a humble affair at home, albeit the home is Windsor Castle in this case. At $75 a pop they spent $45,000 on invites. These are all estimates. I mean, no one knows for sure.

Brokamp: Just on invites?

Southwick: Yes, just on invites. Again, these are all just best estimates, so these could be totally off, but let's just enjoy it, huh? Estimates for a wedding dress are coming in at around $270,000. You can buy a house to live in for that and it's a dress. All right, whatever. Flowers, a $150,000-300,000 budget. They invited 600 guests, so let's talk about food, wine, and all that good stuff. The guests get lunch and dinner and another 2,640 commoners will get tea and a snack, so the estimates are that food and beverage will come in at about $680,000. I think that sounds like a deal if the dress is already $270,000. I don't know. It's all relative. So, $2.7 million. That's an expensive wedding. Still not as expensive as Prince Charles and Lady Diana's wedding. That apparently cost $48 million in 1981... or $110 million when adjusted for inflation. Well, here's the thing. This so-called expert lady when she was estimating...

Brokamp: [Laughs] Expert lady!

Southwick: ... the cost of the wedding, she was only looking at the fun stuff [the dress, the food]. She left out the largest part of the bill, which is... Do you want to guess?

Brokamp: Security?

Southwick: Yes!

Brokamp: Really?

Southwick: Yes, that's it. You've got to have your wedding snipers.

Brokamp: What?

Southwick: You've got to have your wedding policemen. Escorts. All of that security is estimated to cost up to $40 million for this wedding. And guess who gets stuck with the bill?

Brokamp: The taxpayers.

Southwick: Yes, that's right! The taxpayers!

Brokamp: Was there such a thing as a wedding sniper?

Southwick: No, it wasn't like what wedding sniper did you get for your wedding. He was the best. Let me give you my recommendation. No, you've got to have snipers. They just happen to be at a wedding. Here's a side note, though. For security for Kate and William's 2011 wedding, it only cost £6.35 million. And Harry is the spare [not the heir], so I don't know why there's such a massive difference and why they're saying it's going to be so much more for his wedding than the others.

So, $40 million. That is a small price to pay considering what a windfall this wedding is going to be for the U.K. economy according to some. Britain's very serious-sounding [Office for National Statistics] reports that the royal wedding could generate as much as £550 million or roughly $680 million and this is because of tourists coming in for the festivities, trinkets, souvenirs sold, and all of that.

PwC is skeptical that royal weddings really are such a boom to the U.K.'s economy. William and Kate's wedding generated about £107 million, but in perspective, that's less than 4% of the spending in the U.K. for Black Friday. There's maybe some more money to be squeezed out of that royal commemorative tea towel.

Brand Finance, a company that sounds way less serious than the [Office for National Statistics] thinks the wedding could create a boost of £1 billion, but they assigned an eye-roll inducing £300 million to something called PR value for the U.K., as if you're going to be like, "There's a royal wedding. Now I want to go to the U.K. and spend all my money."

And they compared it to, let's say, £50 million in merchandise that will be sold.

Speaking of merch, according to, the must-have item is Harry and Meghan themed china. You can get a plate for $49. You can get a mug. There's even an official commemorative plate which is a lovely cornflower blue and has initials, and plenty of doodads and whirligigs. That goes for $67. You can also buy some weird stuff, like commemorative sweet ginger and American mustard-flavored pork sausages.

You can get coloring books and condoms [or, as the Brits say, kawn-domms] named "crown jewels." That's not really how Brits say condoms, but they say it in such a way that just is so weird to American ears. You know what I'm talking about.

Brokamp: I don't think I've had this conversation with many English folks, but I should now, I guess.

Rick Engdahl: How many Brits have you known through the years?

Brokamp: I don't know. I was just saying...

Southwick: I went to school in England for a while, so...

Engdahl: So, you have experience. OK.

Southwick: My mom listens to this show, Rick, so let's just walk it back a little. So, you're not, unfortunately, going to make a ton of money off your Harry and Meghan sparkle-flavored bag of parsnip crisps [again, that's a commemorative thing you can buy], but you could maybe make some lucrative bets.

Yes, that's right. Something called Paddy Power, one of the largest sports gambling houses in the world has more than a dozen prop bets around the wedding including what tiara Meghan will wear [because she has many options, now]. What dish will be the main course? What color hat will the Queen wear? Will it rain? Will Harry shave? Maybe you went a little crazy and made the bet that Donald Trump will walk Markle down the aisle. It had 500 to 1 odds. Man, how awesome would that have been if it hit? But, of course, as they say, unlucky in gambling, lucky in love, and that, Bro, is what's up this week.

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